Uber for Arab women? New ride sharing app to increase access to job market

Israeli researchers from the Technicon collaborated with The Ministry of Transport and a feminist NGO, Kayan, to develop the application.

March 5, 2019 16:44
2 minute read.
Prof. Yoram Shiftan with the Safarcon application.

Prof. Yoram Shiftan with the Safarcon application. . (photo credit: TECHNION SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)


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 A new ride-sharing application was launched on Tuesday to solve a unique Israeli problem – giving Arab women in northern Israel access to the workplace.

Israeli researchers from the Technion collaborated with the Ministry of Transportation and a feminist NGO, Kayan, to develop the application.

“We knew that we were facing a major challenge yet we believed that a ride-sharing application could only improve the limitations of public transportation in Arab communities," Dr. Robert Ishaq and Ebtihal Shety, the application developers who work for Technion's Transportation Research Institute, said on Tuesday. "Our main target audience were women who suffer from lack of transportation options both within and outside their villages. The application's main potential is that the majority of these women (98%) have access to a smartphone and 73% have a driver's license.”

Israel has its share of ride-sharing applications including Mobility, and MoveIt, but none address the specific concerns of Arab women in the north.

After consulting with 117 women from 10 different Arab communities in northern Israel, the research team discovered that these women highly valued lending a hand and systems of mutual assistance. They were also primarily concerned with safety and privacy.

Taking these findings into consideration, the team set out to create the app.

"It was clear to us that we had to offer a simple and intuitive application that fully supports the Arabic language," said Prof. Yoram Shiftan, another creator of the application. "We chose a simple and meaningful name – Safarcon – which translates into, 'Your Travels,' and a logo designed in both Arabic and English. While the application is also available for men, its main goal is to increase transportation mobility among women. This is a non-profit application, and the financial accounting takes place between the driver and the passenger."

“The problem of accessibility to public transportation is considered one of the most significant barriers that women face, and which hinders women's integration into the job market and their involvement in the public arena,” said Kayan's general-director, Rafah Anabtawi. “This application, which was designed according  to the needs of Arab women taking into account gender and cultural sensitivity, may provide a solution, if only partial, to the inter-locality and inter-city mobility limitations.”

Arab women have long faced significant challenges in the Israeli workforce. According to Israel’s 2018 Global Diversity Report, Arab women earn less than 50% of the average wage, and around 60% of their Jewish peers.

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