About 45% of the working women from lower-earning groups in Dhaka go to their workplaces on foot to save money, avoid any feared harassment and for the lack of adequate public transports on the road, finds a recent study.
Conducted by a team of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), the research titled "Towards Sustainable Mobility: A Study on Working Women's Mode Choice Behavior in a Developing Urban Society" said that the women walk as far as 5 kilometres to reach their workplaces.
On the other hand, only 25% of women from the group used public transport, it added.
"We tried to find out how many working women use public and private transports. We have also tried to identify the problems of low-income working women in the study," Fahmida Hanif, a member of the research team, told The Business Standard.
She, also a graduate research assistant at the Bureau of Research, Testing and Consultation (BRTC) at Buet, urged the government to take initiatives to resolve the public transport crisis in the city to facilitate working women with transportation.
They, however, used secondary data from different agencies including the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha, the World bank, and the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority.
The study pointed out working women do not prefer public transport for moving to workplaces due to the unavailability of buses, overcrowded environment, and ill driving practices.
Moreover, they often face sexual harassment and ill-mannered behaviour from fellow passengers and bus staffers.
"In the densely populated megacity Dhaka, an improved public transportation system will encourage working women to use transports, inspire more women to participate in work," the report said.
Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, told TBS that the lower-income women suffered much due to the adverse environment in public transports.
"The female workers face harassment inside the buses. Besides, it is sometimes costly for the low-income workers, which is why they move on foot even for a long-distance," he said.
He called for ensuring a decent environment on public transports for lower-income women.
Buet Professor Dr Md Hadiuzzaman and Assistant Professor Md Asif Raihan were the key members of the research team.
The low-income working women cannot afford the public transport for going to offices, said Hadiuzzaman. "If they use transport they will have no money for their other expenses. The government should increase public transports and reduce fares for the working women," he suggested. Women only bus service could be considered to alleviate the transportation plight of working women.