• 15 December 2020
  • Gender

  • by

Women and transgender empowerment through e-mobility initiatives in Odisha

By Tim-Sören Hohmann

The transport sector in India and in most other parts of the world is dominated by males. There is almost no female drivers of buses, rickshaws or cabs. Additionally, the corona pandemic has a negative impact on the economic development in India. Marginalized groups are most vulnerable in this situation. SMART-SUT recently signed a finance agreement with the non-governmental organization ARUNA in Bhubaneswar to create jobs and to support green mobility in a pilot project running 50 electric rickshaws operated by women and transgender.

In SMART-SUT’s partner city Bhubaneswar the transport operator Capital Region Urban Transport (CRUT) provides its bus service under the name MoBus, which in the local language Odia means “my bus”. The e-rickshaws will be implemented in collaboration with CRUT and will contribute to improve the first and last mile connectivity of the bus service. Women and transgender will be the operators of the e-rickshaws. By providing jobs in an innovative new field women and transgender employed in the project will be able to maintain their livelihood in a sustainable way.

In a first step a total of 50 e-rickshaws are planned to be purchased through a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory procurement process. In the second phase the women and transgender applying for the job of drivers are going to be trained in a capacity development measure. The training is based on a training needs assessment and will probably include e-mobility operation training, road safety, behavioral training, and minor repairs. The third phase of the project aims at communication and outreach towards creating awareness on the necessity to operate zero tailpipe emissions vehicles and the importance of respecting transgender and women. This will include an information, communication and education campaign.

ARUNA, which is an acronym for Association for Rural Uplift and National Allegiance, was set up in 1994. The development organization has experience in working with women and transgender in the field of HIV & AIDS prevention and livelihood creation. The finance agreement between ARUNA and GIZ is about 100.000 Euros.

Integrated and Sustainable Urban Transport Systems for Smart Cities in India (SMART-SUT) is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The project objective is to improve planning and implementation of sustainable urban transport systems in selected Indian cities and states. The project is part of the Green Urban Mobility Partnership between German and Indian Governments.

Passenger view from inside an auto-rickshaw in India