Participants at the meeting, on 11 September, agreed to launch the campaign on 25 November, the United Nations day for the elimination of violence against women and girls. They also established a co-ordinating committee to develop broader community engagement, clear demands, strategy and materials.
The campaign is being developed with support from the ITF women transport workers committee and ITF affiliate SEKO, and solidarity support from LO-TCO in Sweden, as part of a broader MSTKS project on increasing women’s participation in the heavily male-dominated workplace and union.
Sister Yong Chimplee from the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority State Enterprise Workers’ Union (BMTASEWU) described how her union had recently implemented a similar campaign, which had reduced the instances of violence and resulted in the Thai government now rolling out the campaign policy and implementation across all its departments.
Sheela Naikwade, bus union MSTKS project co-ordinator, said: “There are so many common issues for women working and travelling by bus in Maharashtra, and opportunities for unions and other organisations to work together to develop and implement strategies and hold the employer, police and government accountable for keeping women safe. We are working closely with the Human Rights Law Network to build a strong campaign that reaches deep into our community.”
ITF women transport workers assistant co-ordinator Jodi Evans added that research showed that women in Maharashtra experienced bus travel as one of the least safe public spaces, which was why MSTKS women activists were leading the fight to reclaim safe public road transport for women workers and passengers.