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Women transport workers and Covid-19

During the current COVID-19 crisis, violence in the world of work and the gender-segregated nature of the transport industry will continue to have a disproportionately negative impact on women transport workers. The future of work will become an even more pressing issue as we emerge on the other side of this crisis and as the transport industry adapts to the new reality, with the risk of further disadvantaging women in the sector.

There are many aspects of this crisis that women will face specifically or disproportionately, not exclusively including:

  • maternity concerns and risks,
  • increased vulnerability to catching and spreading the virus and to violence at work due to over-representation in customer-facing roles and lack of sufficient and appropriate PPE,
  • risk of non-payment of salary and/or wage cuts,
  • over-representation in cleaning work,
  • over-representation in informal or precarious work,
  • over-representation in the immediately and severely affected cruise and civil aviation sectors,
  • disproportionate share of unpaid care responsibilities,
  • increased risk of domestic violence as an additional consequence of isolation and curfews, and lack of support due to the economic impact on survivor support services and initiatives, and
  • low levels of representation in industry decision-making bodies with concern about the long-term impact on women’s participation in the industry.

Additionally, sufficient access to decent sanitation is critical to the prevention of illness and slowing the spread of the virus. This issue is relevant to all workers, but for women there are additional concerns. The ITF Transport Workers’ Sanitation Charter contains information and demands relevant for all unions in our response to COVID-19.

How can transport unions help?

Due to the disproportionate impact this crisis is having on women workers in our industry, we want to highlight best practice in support of women, and expose the worst practices and support our affiliates to address these. In order to do so, we want to ask for your support by providing any of the following information:

  • Positive legislation, government initiatives, employer policies or bargained provisions that particularly benefit women transport workers - examples could include virus protection mechanisms and equipment, caring responsibilities, violence at work, commuting, social protections including for informal workers
  • Women’s occupations in the transport industry that are particularly impacted by the virus
  • Worst practice/priority issues not yet addressed for women transport workers
  • Workers’ stories (women transport workers’ voices)
  • Re-skilling of the workforce (for example to work in other occupations, sectors or to prepare for digitalisation)
  • Women involved in relevant decision-making - either within transport or in collaboration with other sectors
  • Action in support of domestic violence support systems and workers

Please send any information to

Thank you very much for helping our efforts to give women transport workers a voice in these challenging times.