Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why UN Women Is Pulling Back from Uber Partnership

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why UN Women Is Pulling Back from Uber Partnership

Article excerpt

It looks like Uber will have to go elsewhere to fix its troubled reputation with women.

Concerns over the ride-sharing company's perceived inability to protect female drivers and passengers from harassment has led UN Women, a gender equality initiative, to cancel a partnership with Uber that was announced two weeks ago.

"UN Women will not accept an offer to collaborate on job creation with Uber, so you can rest assured about that," executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said Friday at the Commission on the Status of Women conference in New York City, where world leaders discussed next steps in achieving the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.

The partnership was the main announcement at the conference's opening March 10, the Guardian reported. The plan would have had UN Women and Uber working together "to create 1 million jobs for women as drivers on the Uber platform by 2020," according to the company's blog.

A coalition of trade unions responded to the proposed collaboration by pointing to the reports of harassment and assault that, on top of allegations of unfair pricing and breaches of privacy, have dogged the ride service.

"As unions and NGOs we find it astonishing that UN Women is linking to this organisation, based on a promise of a million jobs that we know are likely to be insecure, ill paid, and potentially unsafe," Brigitta Paas, vice president of the International Transport Workers' Federation, a global union coalition that frequently challenges Uber, said during the conference.

"We urge the UN Women organisation to reconsider this announcement of their partnership with Uber without delay," Ms. Paas added.

Uber operates out of 55 countries, and reports of harassment related to the service have surfaced from a number of them.

In the US, female Uber drivers have complained about harassment from passengers; one incident, reported by Buzzfeed, involved a customer who tracked his driver to her home using the Uber app's "Lost and Found" feature. On the inverse, female passengers have also reported sexual assault by Uber drivers in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities. …

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