Updated on 2 July, 2019
Gender-based subsidy programme First of its kind in India. Aam Aadmi Party government’s decision to make public transport free for women has given rise to mixed views. Proponents claim that the policy will protect and liberate women. Critics argue that it is financially unviable and unfair. In this article we will analyse the issue in detail. What Necessitates Gender based subsidy?
According to the 2011 Census, an estimated 60% of women workers in India choose to work from home or at a place which is less than a km from home. A study in Delhi found that college girls, compared to boys, chose lower ranked colleges with safe and reliable transport access.
- Prevailing Gender differences in travel choices and patterns:
- Social norms supporting Gender inequality: has already manifested in the form of Wage discrimination, gender segregation in employment, and household labour divisions and now contributing to gender inequality in transportation.
Singapore offers a discount to rail commuters who are willing to travel before the morning rush-hour. Public transport is free for residents in Estonia. Luxembourg, with a population of about 600,000, has made public transport free for those under the age of 20. Berlin offered women a 21% ticket discount for one day in March this year to highlight the gender wage gap. Prospects of Gender based policy making:
- Women in India travel far less than men, and this has significant impacts on their education, employment, and enjoyment.
- Compromises on education and jobs for travel purposes is one of the reasons for women earning less than men, leaving the workforce, and financially dependent.
- When Delhi Metro hiked fares last year, around 70% of women surveyed in a study suggested that they would have to choose a less safe travel option for work, or travel less.
- Limited money to travel also means that women are willing to forgo hospital visits, significantly affecting their health.
- Similar examples from other countries :
Transportation policy needs to reflect the social cost
- A subsidy like this is most likely to benefit women who might consider taking up jobs for which they are better suited but are further away from home.
- Women can engage in a range of activities that promote their wellbeing. Free public transport can therefore bring more women to public spaces, and, consequently, make those spaces safer for women
Way Forward: Subsidising public transport will make public transport truly public as some people are at a relative disadvantage due to their unique social, economic, and health circumstances. Article 13 in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises freedom of movement as a basic human right. If we consider transportation as a fundamental social need then any urban transport policy should include subsidies targeted at the disadvantaged. Better public transport service is key to reduce irrational vehicle mobility, reducing air pollution, and making cities more livable. It’s time for all urban bodies to design efficient, effective, fair, and context-specific public transport policies. Author: Sandip Chakrabarti is faculty in the Public Systems Group at IIMA and Akshaya Vijayalakshmi is faculty of Marketing at IIMA . Also read: The Legal Provisions for Women Maratha Reservation Verdict By High Court: An Analysis Source: The Hindu
- Social cost in using personal motorized vehicles is totally neglected: this has adversely led to traffic congestion, environmental pollution, and distortions in urban form.
- Need for pricing interventions such as congestion charges, mileage-based road use charges, parking charges, and higher petrol taxes so that private driving costs better reflect full social costs.
- London and Stockholm, for example, have been charging for congestion for over a decade. Such measures, in addition to discouraging driving, can help governments generate funds for expanding, improving, and operating relatively cleaner transportation alternatives such as public transport.
- Revenues accrued by appropriately charging personal motorised travel will be sufficient to make public transport cheap or free.