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Bolt boosts safety with Women Only service

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E-hailing platform Bolt has launched its Women Only service, which enables women passengers to request rides from female drivers only.

TheWomen Only ride service, available via the Bolt app, is currently available in eight cities around SA, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Emalahleni, Mbombela, Mthatha, East London and Rustenburg, and it will continue to be rolled out to other cities, according to Bolt.

For a number of years, South African women have been sharing their experiences of alleged sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of e-hailing drivers.

As a result, many people have been calling for e-hailing cab services to make women’s safety their first priority.

According to Bolt, women passengers who request theWomen Only ride service will only connect with women drivers on the Bolt platform – their request for a ride will not be visible to male drivers.

Bolt joins several women-focused ride-hailing services that have launched in SA in recent months, including CheufHer,Ladies Own Transport and HER, aimed at connecting female drivers with female passengers via a mobile app.

Women Only costs the same as the main Bolt category, with no surcharge for this service.

“Gender-based violence is a reality that women across SA contend with every day,” says Gareth Taylor, country manager for Bolt in South Africa.

“Women Only – a service that is exclusively for and driven by women – shouldn't be needed, but unfortunately it is.Bolt continues to look for ways to make e-hailing safer for the women that use the platform, whether they are drivers or passengers. Doing so means that more women can earn an income by driving with Bolt, and SA’s women can choose to be driven by a woman.”

The Estonia-headquartered company notes that all drivers and passengers utilising Bolt’sWomen Only service are protected by an app-integrated SOS emergency button, made possible through Bolt’s partnership with national safety platform Namola.

Bolt has also allowed women drivers to have protection security screens installed in their vehicles to further boost safety, at no charge to them.

Despite the fact that more than half of the passengers that use Bolt in SA are women,research shows that women own only 38% of South African micro, small and medium enterprises in general, and less than 5% of drivers using Bolt to connect with passengers are women.

International Finance Corporation research shows 64% of women cited security as a reason they do not sign up to become e-hailing drivers.

Women drivers using this Bolt service are not penalised in any way if they cancel a trip if they are expecting to collect a female passenger, and a male passenger is waiting for them at the agreed collection point, according to Bolt.

“Women e-hailing drivers and passengers have the right to feel safe and be protected from any harm while working and moving around, and the Women Only service, in combination with Bolt’s many other safety features, provides this safety and protection,” adds Taylor.

Bolt says its registration process for drivers includes verifying their identity, including whether they are male or female, making it easy to confirm that only women drivers can access the Bolt Women Only category.

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