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Culturally Correct Transportation for Women


Evelyn Hannon

Pink taxis in Mexico. Separate toilets on Japanese airplanes. Pink striped subway cars in Rio. Must a woman sit in the back of the bus or should she go to the front? Know-before-you-go what women can expect from 'transportation' around the world. If you have further female-centered transportation facts from cities you've visited, please send your tips to True to Journeywoman style we'll be very happy to add it to this listing. Thanks everybody!

Toronto, Canada
Every subway stop has a well-lit designated waiting area (DWA) where females can wait for the train. This DWA is monitored from the ticket collector's booth by closed circuit TV and a voice intercom system. The guard's car on each train stops right at the DWA so that female passengers can always have a Toronto Transit Commission employee riding with them and keeping an eye on things.


Tehran, Iran
Women getting on to buses are asked to enter by the rear entrance and sit in a small segregated area at the back. Men sit in the front. However, according to reports that Journeywoman has read, 'Due to regular complaints of sexual harassment on public transportation', 11-seater mini vans driven by women for women have now been introduced to make life on the road just a bit easier for females living in Iran.


Beijing, China
According to, 'Beijing authorities launched "Seat-giving Day" to encourage people on public transport to give up their seats to those in greater need, in their bid to improve civic-consciousness ahead of the Olympics. The city named the 22nd of every month as the day for commuters to give way to the aged, pregnant women, children, and the disabled on public transport.' We doubt that that generous idea continued after the Olympics. There are just too many people in Beijing and they operate on the credo, 'survival of the fittest'. P.S. Watch out for Chinese grannies. They've been forced to develop very sharp elbows for getting on to buses.


Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Special pink-striped subway cars have been set aside for women only. Opponents to this concept ask, 'Why oh why won't men behave and then we won't need pink cars to escape to?'


Jerusalem, Israel
Protestors continue to demonstrate against gender-segregated buses on some routes in Jerusalem. For religious reasons, the ultra-orthodox community has fought for the right to sit separately from women. Of course that segregation means women in the back, men in the front of the bus. Israeli women are not accepting this ruling and are fighting back for their rights. Watch out fellas, every Israel woman has had military training.


Tokyo, Japan
To counteract groping by males who've had more than their share of alcohol, all commuter rail and subway companies in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan's two biggest cities, run women-only cars. Female-only policy varies from company to company; some are effective during rush hour, others throughout the day, while some limit women-only cars to rapid service trains, as they tend to be more crowded and have relatively longer distances between stops. But in general, the policy is effective only on weekdays, excluding holidays. Platforms and train doors are marked with signs indicating boarding areas for the cars, and the days and times when the cars are women-only. Also, most train operators in Japan allow male elementary school pupils, disabled persons, and their assistants to board women-only cars (Wikipedia).


London, England
Bus companies are experimenting with hiring female bus drivers and are seeing that there appears to be less rowdiness on these drivers' routes. Transport London is running the following content targeting women on their website. "Modern buses are no more physically demanding than cars. So gone are the days when you had to be the world's strongest man to drive one. Or a man at all, for that matter. The fact is that anyone with a full car driving licence can make a great bus driver. And great bus drivers can make up to £500 a week. Join the Women into the Bus Industry program now.'


Cairo, Egypt
The first car of every subway train is reserved for women and children. Egyptian women lobbied for these cars, they won and now protect their right to ride in them. Pity the men that try to get on to these cars. He will be fined and will have to protect himself from a crowd of angry female subway riders. P.S. City buses in Cairo once reserved their front seats for women but there is such overcrowding that that rule now goes unheeded. Today, Egyptian men are quick to sit in those seats without any problems.

According to M&G News, in Cairo, City Cab that runs a fleet of cabs has launched a division of 'pink taxis for women' but they are not allowed to be pink. They must be yellow like all the other Cairo cabs. 'Cairo's governor will reconsider the firm's request to paint the cars a distinguishing shade of lavender'.

'Al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, has endorsed the concept of women-driven taxis, provided they serve only female clientele. In a fatwa it urged authorities to pass legislation to ensure the safety of women who work in this field'.


Beirut, Lebanon
This is another place that has instituted 'Pink Taxis' for women. In a video interview one driver describes how she wears light make-up, a pink identifying scarf, a bit of perfume and a pink flower in her hair. It's interesting to hear how both men and women react to these pink taxis, their drivers, and the woman-only concept in general. Video:


Puebla, Mexico
A fleet of 35 pink taxis are driven by women exclusively for women. Each four-door vehicle is equipped with a GPS system and an alarm button. Supposedly the cabs cater especially to those female passengers who are tired of leering male drivers and who worry about their personal safety. Critics wonder why each cab is equipped with a beauty kit. Journeywoman feels the same way. We're all for woman's safety but 'the beauty kit' stereotyping = silly!


Mumbai, India
Good news to combat all the 'Eve teasing' (public sexual harassment) in this country. The Minister of Railways is a woman. Her name is Mamata Banerjee and she is now responsible for women-only commuter trains in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Calcutta. Even the vendors in these cars must be women and the passengers love this time alone to comb and braid their long hair, have a quiet moment (read the newspaper) or just visit with friends. P.S. A female reporter on one of these trains wrote, 'The men are not happy. Its unfair, they say. These ladies trains go empty. The men felt that what was needed was more trains for them'.


Japan's All Nippon Airways
Seat up, seat down? Starting this month, female passengers on Japan’s All Nippon Airways will have a toilet dedicated only to women on most international routes. The female only toilet will be located in the rear of planes (oh, oh delegated to the back again) and will be available to all female travelers regardless of whether they're travelling in economy or first class. The decision to offer women-only lavatories was the result of a ’07 online survey in which 90 percent of the responding women said that the option of having a female-only toilet really appealed to them. All Journeywoman can think of is ... Can you imagine the line-ups?



Women take trains in India...

One video is definitely worth a 1000 words. Check out this YouTube piece and witness what women in India's workplace have to go through to get to their job.

Compare that to the size of crowds on subway platforms in most Western cities and we, women will never complain again. Link:






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Culturally Correct Dos and Taboos



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