Improving Public Transport Services for Women: A Story from Cairo

Home to approximately 20 million people, the Greater Cairo Region is one of the most crowded cities in the world which means that moving around the city is a complex process involving various modes of transport and many inefficiencies. Since   2016, Ministry of Housing and UN Habitat have been planning and designing, the city’s first Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) to connect a new urban community, 6th of October to Central Cairo. 

Recognizing a clear need to design a BRT system that is gender sensitive to women’s needs, expectations and experiences, UN Habitat and UN Women have undertaken extensive surveys and focus group discussions revealing interesting findings. For example, 60% of women surveyed visit two or more places outside their home on a daily basis per trip and while most male trips were work-related, women had varied trip purposes. Women took more personal and shopping trips than their male counterparts, which may reflect an unequal distribution of household related duties such as taking children to school and visiting relatives. 57% of women reported spending 2 hours or more in their commute in the previous day.

Surveys also revealed that women make up approximately a quarter of the passengers in road-based public transport modes. In addition, most women seldom or never use a substitute, perhaps pointing to the unaffordability of alternate modes. The project has also looked at harassment issues which women using public transportation often experience in the form of verbal or physical harassment from perpetrators including drivers and passengers.

This in turn limits women’s mobility and access to opportunities.



 “The dangers for me consist in the cost, effort and time wasted in transport. Means of transport are so terribly crowded. When I arrive home, I am so tired that I cannot do anything anymore. I do not get tired from working, I am exhausted by the trip.” – Focus group participant

The first BRT corridor is expected to move 130,000 people per day and will be 42 kilometers and will be integrated with existing transport modes.  It is expected to save users at least fifteen minutes per trip.  The gender plan for the BRT services provides clear recommendations for operational solutions to make travel for women and other vulnerable groups safer and more comfortable. In addition, public advocacy and awareness campaigns will be undertaken.  The system will enhance accessibility to education, work, health care, cultural, and other important activities that are crucial to women’s participation in the society.


UN Habitat is currently developing a gender brief to be published in 2019.

Check Also

The SECRETARY-GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 17 May 2019

  Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, …