Ministry of Transportation: Women at the back of buses

Etti Aflallo, Calcalist, April 24th, 2019

Director: Turner Foundation, Director of the Public Transportation Authority: Amir Asraf, Head of the General Directorate: Rachel Tevet Wiesel, Director of the Civil Aviation Authority: Yoel Feldschu.

The term of the current government has been characterized by a massive development of roads and a severe failure to develop public transportation. Attorney Miriam Zalkind of the Israel Women’s Network (IWN) explains that public transportation plays a crucial role in reducing inequality in society as a whole, and in particular, in terms of gender inequality. “Women constitute about 2/3 of public transportation users in Israel.” Their sense of personal security and the prevention of sexual harassment are all important steps in favor of expanding women’s employment and education opportunities”.

An examination of the Ministry of Transportation’s budget in the years 2017 to 2019 shows that a very small portion was invested in existing public transportation. The Ministry’s development budgets in these years also allocated negligible amounts for the development of public transportation and infrastructure, other than railways or inter-urban roads. In addition, in order for the budget to serve both men and women equally, the Ministry of Transportation must invest in cheaper mass transit vehicles, such as BRT (fast bus systems) and public routes that are efficient.

A positive point in the period of the outgoing government is the effect of the reform of ticket prices on women (according to which prices are set for travel in a particular area, even if they are carried out through several transportation lines). Most women use the public transportation system for several different tasks which are integrated in one trip (and do not travel just from one point to another).

On their journey there are stops between several centers, such as an educational institution, grocery store, bank, work, home. Therefore, women are the main beneficiaries of the double-ticket rate reform, which created a significant reduction of monthly, weekly and two-day ticket rates.

Another positive point is a significant increase in the number of women trained as public transportation drivers during the outgoing government. However, the percentage of female drivers in the industry as a whole is still very low.

Women continue to be excluded from public transportation despite the Supreme Court ruling on the matter. “Mehadrin” bus lines, which separate men and women, are still running undisturbed, and some of them even offer lower prices than other regular lines.

The IWN recommends examining the use of public transportation in a gender context. The last such survey was conducted in 2013. Afterwards, it is recommended to adjust the frequency of public transportation to peak hours for women who use it more in the afternoon (13:00 to 15:00) and to ensure overall that public transportation is coordinated with women’s commuting.

As for the representation of women in the ministry itself, the Ministry of Transportation is headed by the CEO of the Turner-Ail Foundation, which has led a number of important moves in terms of inequality, leading to a significant improvement in the balance of workplaces of the ministry’s employees and for other government ministries that have adopted a similar policy.

Turner also leads a number of moves to make transportation infrastructure in general, and public transport in particular, friendlier to women, but not all initiatives have been implemented. Two senior appointments at the ministry during the term of the outgoing government were of the first female Director-General of the National Road Safety Authority, Rachel Tevet-Weisel and the appointment of the first female president of the Ashdod port authority, Orna Hozmov.

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