All-Female Ridesharing App Rolled Out in Egypt
A new all-female ridesharing service in Egypt aims to not only compete against the popular Uber and Dubai-based Careem, but also aims to combat rampant sexual harassment and empower women. Fyonka is the ridesharing service rolled out in January 2019 and provides women car owners with the opportunity to be financially independent and ensures female passengers with safety and security.
“Out of 400,000 drivers, only 10,000 are women,” said Fyonka co-founder Abdullah Hussein in an interview. “This is mainly due to social or safety barriers.” Sexual harassment is a human rights issue in Egypt with a UN report in 2013 stating that a staggering 99 percent of women had been sexually harassed in the country. Many of those women reported public transportation drivers as their perpetrators. Due to this cultural crisis, Fyonka takes on the issue of women’s safety by mandating all prospective drivers pass a security and background check, are personally interviewed and receive program training to ensure high-quality service.
Egypt has also been cited for their lack of education for women with only 65 percent of women over the age of 15 being literate as compared to 82 percent of men. The ridesharing app has pledged to address this issue by using a portion of its earnings and by collaborating with multiple organizations on women empowerment projects throughout the year. Fyonka co-founder Abdallah Hussein, recently revealed that the company is currently working on two projects, one of them focused on providing reading and writing classes for illiterate women in villages in Northern Egypt. With new laws lifted for women drivers in Saudi Arabia, the company hopes to expand in that market to further their initiative and inspire women in the region.
The Realist Woman’s take:
While some may have the opinion that it’s sad Egypt has to have a service like this, I applaud the founders of this service for creating opportunities and a safe space for women. I’ve only known about the problems Egypt has had culturally with sexual harassment since right before the Egyptian revolution in 2011.
I watched a movie called Cairo Time with Patricia Clarkson that showcased this issue. Her character was trying to meet up with her Ambassador husband in Egypt and when he couldn’t make it in time, she decided to explore the streets of Cairo by herself. Hell to the no. She was immediately being enclosed by men from all over the street. She ran into a cafe for safety but I will never forget how quickly she was about to become a victim of sexual harassment and possibly a victim of sexual assault.
Women in Egypt are hounded by men. The statistics on this issue are mind-boggling and the stories women and girls have shared in articles about it over the years are chilling in the least. I’m happy that even though laws have been put in place to protect women since the revolution with very little changing as a result, women now have options to work and to live their lives without the threat of harassment, at least when it comes to public transportation. This is huge for them. I hope it works out.