Safarcon: A new ride-sharing application for women in the Arab sector
The application was developed by researchers at Technion’s Transportation Research Institute (TRI) in collaboration with Kayan, a feminist non-profit organization, and supported by the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Transport. According to the researchers, the application intends to help solve the problem of Arab women’s access to the workplace in the absence of adequate public transportation, thereby increasing their participation in the job market.
Researchers from TRI and Kayan, which aims to promote the status and rights of Arab women, have developed a unique ride-sharing application which supports Arabic and is adapted to the Arab sector in general and to Arab women in particular. The purpose of the application is to create alternative modes of transportation and to increase mobility in Arab society. This free application connects drivers with passengers who need to reach the same destination. The application also features a package-delivery scheduling system.
The application was developed by Prof. Yoram Shiftan, Dr. Robert Ishaq, and Ebtihal Shety of TRI at the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in cooperation with Kayan’s General Director Rafah Anabtawi and Director of the Community Department Mona Mahajneh.
In order to characterize the application, the Technion research team held focus groups with the participation of 117 women from 10 communities in Northern Israel and reached these conclusions:
- The participants support the values of mutual assistance and responsibility expressed through their willingness to implement travel-share, in order to benefit from convenient and time-saving travel at low cost.
- The participants also addressed various challenges and concerns, primarily concern for their personal security. Most of the participants said they would prefer to travel only with drivers who are familiar to them. Another disadvantage that arose in the focus groups was the loss of flexibility and privacy.
Dr. Ishaq and Ebtihal Shety said, “We knew that we were facing a major challenge yet we believed that a ride-sharing application could only improve the limitations of public transportation in Arab communities. Our main target audience were women who suffer from lack of transport options both within and outside their villages. The application’s main potential is that the majority of these women (98%) have access to a smartphone and 73% have a driver’s license.”
“It was clear to us that we had to offer a simple and intuitive application that fully supports the Arabic language,” said Prof. Shiftan. We chose a simple and meaningful name – Safarcon – which translates into, ‘Your Travels’ and a logo designed in both Arabic and English. While the application is also available for men, its main goal is to increase transport mobility among women. This is a non-profit application, and the financial accounting takes place between the driver and the passenger.”
Referring to the importance of the application for Arab women, Anabtawi said, “The problem of accessibility to public transportation is considered one of the most significant barriers that women face and which hinders women’s integration into the job market and their involvement in the public arena. This application, which was designed according to the needs of Arab women, taking into account gender and cultural sensitivity, may provide a solution, if only partial, to the inter-locality and inter-city mobility limitations.”
The researchers believe that Safarcon can help Arab women cope with the lack of adequate transport and mobility solutions and that via the use of the application the number of Arab women entering the workforce is likely to increase.