Uber Revolution In Egypt Challenges Gender Roles Behind The Wheel

dpa, Berlin

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) More uber apps are being installed on smartphones in Egypt. Although it may be disturbing to some, WOMEN are stepping up to answer the call and drive.

CAIRO

Rehab Mahran is part of the Egyptian Revolution and so she has to take some abuse for it.

Men are incredulous, sometimes negative. Others are afraid. She gets accused of being a sinner.

So what’s the problem? Mahran is driving a car. Or more precisely, driving for Uber. She is one of the first female drivers for the internet transport service in Egypt.

Egypt is a country where it is the men who drive taxis and limousines. That has always been so and will always remain so — at least the men thought. It is a society that is conservative and ridden with patriarchal prejudices and customs. One is that the man’s place is behind the steering wheel. Mahran thinks otherwise.

“I decided to cross over these boundary lines,” she said, laughing so heartily that her golden jewellery swings back and forth.

Mahran’s story is also that of the transport service Uber, which is experiencing a boom in the Middle East. The app from Silicon Valley is being installed on more and more smartphones in Egypt, and more and more people are making use of the GPS-guided callup service to collect them where they are and take them to their next destination.

Uber started up in Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, in 2014 and since then around 50,000 drivers have signed up for it. Among them are also a few hundred women.

The youthful boss of Uber in Egypt, Abdellatif Waked, says that allowing female drivers is all about providing equal opportunity in society.

“Promoting women is one of our main concerns,” the 29-year-old says. There had been some previous projects for women, for example the “Pink Taxi” reserved only for women that made the news in 2015. But comparatively few women drivers were employed for it.

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