The United Nations has pulled out of a partnership with mobile-app-based taxi company Uber, which would have created 1 million driving jobs for women because of concerns about the company’s treatment of women.
On March 10, the opening day of the two-week session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York,Uber and UN Women announced the partnership to help advance the UN’s goals toward gender equality and female empowerment.
“Today, UN Women and Uber are launching a partnership to work together around the world toward a shared vision of equality and women’s empowerment,” announced Uber’s founder and chief executive, Travis Kalanick. “We intend to invest in long-term programs in local communities where we live and work, as Uber commits to creating 1,000,000 jobs for women globally on the Uber platform by 2020.”
Kalanick’s statement was co-signed by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women. But the UN director recently changed her tune, however, after trade unions and women’s rights groups brought pressure to bear.
“UN women will not accept an offer to collaborate on job creation with Uber, so you can rest assured about that,” she said during a March 20 speech at the conference, a recording of which was posted on YouTube this week.
Uber’s detractors, who campaigned at the conference, urging supporters to use the hashtag #UNWomenDumpUber, decried the partnership, saying the San Francisco-based ride booking app provider fails to protect female passengers and drivers.
“As unions and NGOs we find it astonishing that UN Women is linking to this organisation, based on a promise of a million jobs that we know are likely to be insecure, ill paid, and potentially unsafe,” said Brigitta Paas, vice president of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, in remarks at the Un Women conference.
“Uber says it operates in 55 countries around the world, but according to our research, almost 40 percent of national or local governments in those countries have said ‘no’ to Uber one way or another,” she added. “There is not a day that passes without a news story on Uber, but many of those stories are scandalous and disturbing. They include reports of assaults, surge pricing, and breaches of privacy. There have even been cases of Uber ignoring rulings to shut down its service and indicating to drivers that it will pay the fines and cost of any appeals if drivers are penalised for continuing to use its app to pick up passengers.”