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Society India8. December 2023

Women Here Can Take the Bus to Work (or Wherever!) for Free

The Indian state of Karnataka is the latest to offer to make public buses free of charge for women, empowering them to join the workforce and have more autonomy. Due to the scheme’s success, it could be implemented in other states.

“These policies suddenly open up new opportunities for women,” states Satya Arikutharam, a Bengaluru-based independent mobility expert.

The Shakti program – which means strength in Hindi – has made bus commutes free to women since June 2023. Delhi was the first, in 2019, to give out free, pink paper tickets to women. So far, more than one billion have been used. Punjab and Tamil Nadu have started similar schemes. The number of women in the workforce could increase since these policies facilitate travel. Indeed, even if women are allowed to work, they often decide not to if the commute is unreliable and unaffordable. According to the World Bank, less than a quarter of women above age 15 were in employment in 2022, down from 27% in 2012. Women contribute around 17% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP). By closing the employment gap, women’s contribution to India’s GDP could reach 30% by 2050.

Deccan Herald

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