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Women in Africa face substantial discrimination in the transport sector, both as transport users and as transport sector employees. This affects their wider access to work in every sector. Relevant skills acquisition, at an early age, is essential if women are to break through such barriers.  

Through this research project we aim to understand and address these challenges.  Our in-depth, mixed-methods research will include piloting of skills-based interventions in three major cites: Abuja (Nigeria); Cape Town (South Africa) and Tunis (Tunisia).  The focus is on girls/young women of low socio-economic status living in less accessible locations (one peri-urban site and one linked rural site per city). 

This research project, “Youth engagement and skills acquisition within Africa’s transport sector; promoting a gender agenda towards transition into meaningful work”, is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund [GCRF].  The grant, which runs from 1st December 2018 to 28th February 2021, was awarded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council.  

There are three, interlinked strands to the research in each city:

The User Strand, which focuses on exploring young women’s travel and transport usage and the impact on their access to employment and training programmes. 

The Employment Strand, which focuses on women’s employment experiences within the transport sector.

The Action Research Strand, which is designed to build on findings in the User Strand and the Employment Strand. It will pilot transport-related skills training for women to improve their access to employment (both directly, through employment in the transport sector and indirectly, through the travel safety skills that will enable them to travel to diverse employment opportunities).  Expanding women’s employment in areas such as commercial driving and vehicle repair and maintenance can help build a  critical mass so women users feel safe travelling on public transport.

In each site a small number of unemployed local young women are being trained as peer researchers at project outset to help build a firm understanding of local context and constraints.  This should also ensure that a full range of appropriate issues are taken forward in the academic-led research which follows. 

Through this study we aim to produce gender-sensitive transport/travel related skills guidance for governments, private sector, NGOs, and academia at local, national and international levels.  The study will cover diverse modes of transport, including walking as well as non-motorised and motorised vehicles.