SINGAPORE: In light of International Women’s Day, Grab’s Women Programme was launched earlier this week, offering an array of endeavors that give women a leg up while making sure they are safe.

The programme “covers a series of long-term initiatives to dismantle stereotypes that prevent women from actively participating in Southeast Asia’s growing digital economy,” said Ms Cheryl Goh, the company’s Group Head of Marketing and Sustainability.

In Singapore, a new feature is being tested to allow women drivers to say whether they prefer to pick up women passengers.

In a piece published on Grab’s site on Mar 5, Ms Goh underlined that the company’s mission is to create economic empowerment for everyone, which would drive the whole region forward. One of the ways that Grab does this is by creating income opportunities for its driver- and delivery-partners.

However, there is still a great gender disparity among Grab’s drivers and riders, most of whom are still male, which means that men and women do not access the company’s flexible earning opportunities equally.

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“We want to change this,” Ms Goh said, adding that many women lack confidence to take advantage of its opportunities because these jobs have traditionally been taken by males and others are doubtful that driving is suitable or safe for them.

On the feature that allows women drivers to be matched with women passengers, Ms Goh added that though 99.99 per cent of Grab’s rides occur without incident, this feature will add an extra layer of safety for women drivers, allowing them to drive with peace of mind.

“Toggling on the feature will prioritise matches between women drivers and passengers. If there are no women passengers in the vicinity, our partners will still be matched to a non-woman passenger based on our existing allocation approach.

This ensures that the earnings of our women driver-partners and the ride experience of our passengers are not compromised,” she added.

The company is also seeking to lower barriers to platform onboarding and performance by setting up onboarding sessions in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines that will solely be for women.

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Through these sessions, the women will learn more about how to use the Grab driver app efficiently as well as receive tips on managing consumers.

An anti-harassment guidebook has been rolled out across Southeast Asia and self-defence training will be offered in Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

“Driving change and altering mindsets take time. By addressing the needs and concerns of women within the ride-hailing and food delivery industry, we hope to open up new opportunities for women seeking economic independence and build a more diverse and inclusive Grab ecosystem,” said Ms Goh. /TISG

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