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General Overview

EICS Framework


Region of Reference

  • AfricaAfrica
  • AsiaAsia
  • AustraliaAustralia
  • EuropeEurope
  • North-AmericaNorth-America
  • South-AmericaSouth-America
  • WorldWorld


This intervention refers to the establishment of gender desks at key transport hubs, and the training of the personnel who manage the desks. Gender desks are places where women can go to report sensitive issues relating to sexual harassment and assault, where staff, usually female, are specially trained to handle such reports. [2,3] Research has shown that victims of such offences are hesitant of approaching main police desks to report incidents, as they are often afraid, intimidated, or ashamed, or believe that there is no point in reporting. [1,2,8,10,11]

Implementing gender desks in the public transport space is an important step in increasing the number of incidents reported, as female victims will be more likely to do so if they feel safe and comfortable, and know that their reports will be seriously considered. [1-3]

Types of Impact

Area Impacted

  • To/from the stop/station/rank
  • Waiting for train/bus/paratransit
  • In the vehicle
  • At interchanges
This intervention would impact areas where formal infrastructure is present, and therefore would not impact areas on the way to the stop/station or on the vehicle. Gender desks could be present at stations/stops, or at transport interchanges.

Time of Day of Impact

  • Day-time travel
  • Night-time travel
  • Peak-time travel
  • Off peak-time travel
All travel time categories could be positively impacted by this intervention, depending on the scale of implementation and availability of staff.

Mode Impacted

  • Bus
  • Train
  • Rideshare
  • 4 wheelers informal
  • 3 wheelers informal
  • 2 wheelers informal
  • Cycling
  • Walking
Modes with formal infrastructure and stations/stops will be impacted. Locations with high volumes of informal pick-ups and drop-offs would also be impacted.

Demographic impacted

  • Girls
  • Boys
  • Adult Women
  • Men
  • Elderly Women
All public transport users could be positively impacted by this intervention, as any user can report an incident at a gender desk. However, literature shows that women experience sexual harassment more than men, so more women are likely to need to report incidents than men.2,3 Implementing gender desks could aid in increasing the number of incidents reported, as female victims will be more likely to do so if they feel safe, comfortable, and know that their reports will be seriously considered. [1-3]

SWOT Analysis

  • Ensures staff are trained to record reported incidents well in order to help passengers

  • Establishes a system to report incidents

  • Scalable to suit budget and need

  • As soon as implementation stops, the benefits stop

  • Not effective in parts of the transport system where the intervention is not physically present

  • To encourage female passengers to come forward and report incidents

  • To apprehend more offenders through reports of incidents

  • Job opportunities for women to man these desks

  • Female passengers might still feel ashamed of reporting incidents due to the stigma around sexual harassment, even if the staff are available.


Literature shows that the very high number of unreported incidents is due to a negative perception of reporting by females. Females who have been victims of sexual harassment often don’t report incidents as they believe that reporting is useless or too complicated, or because they are fearful or feel like they won’t be taken seriously. [1,-3,5,8,10] Females also prefer reporting incidents to female staff as opposed to male staff, as “they feel compromised talking about such things with unknown men” (Allen & Vanderschuren, 2016) [1,5]. Therefore, the presence of gender desks – places specifically designed for reporting sexual harassment – is much more desirable for female victims of such offences. As there is a significant amount of literature to support this, confidence in these ratings is good.

  • Perception by (female) passengers
  • Perception by governing bodies
  • Level of confidence in these ratings


Implementation of this intervention takes some time initially, as staff has to be trained and the gender desk has to be set up. The benefits ensue after the training is finished and the trained staff begins working at the desk. Benefits will continue to increase as passengers become more aware of the gender desk. Unfortunately, if the intervention ends, so do the benefits.

Implementation timeframe

  • 0-1 year
  • 1-3 years
  • >3 years

Timeframe to realise benefits

  • 0-1 year
  • 1-3 years
  • >3 years

Scale of Implementation

This intervention can be implemented at a station/suburb or city level.

Station or

Ease of Implementation

This intervention takes a moderate amount of effort to implement, as it requires skilled personnel, and it takes time.

List of References



1. Allen, H. & Vanderschuren, M. 2016. Safe and Sound International Research on Women’s Personal Safety on Public Transport. FIA Foundation Research Series. 6:1–55. [2022, January 19].

2. Wamukonya, N. 2002. A critical look at gender and energy mainstreaming in Africa. [2022, January 21].

3. Thomson, D.R., Bah, A.B., Rubanzana, W.G. & Mutesa, L. 2015. Correlates of intimate partner violence against women during a time of rapid social transition in Rwanda: Analysis of the 2005 and 2010 demographic and health surveys. BMC Women’s Health. 15(1):1–13. DOI: 10.1186/s12905-015-0257-3.

4. Together for Girls. 2018. Visit the Mbeya Police Gender Desk. [2022, January 20].

North America

North America

9. Kearl, H. 2018. A National Study on Sexual Harassment and Assault. Virginia, United States.

South America

South America

10. Quinones, L.M. 2020. Sexual harassment in public transport in Bogotá. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice. 139:54–69. DOI: 10.1016/j.tra.2020.06.018

11. SP TRANS 2021. “A campanha “Ponto final ao abu- so sexual nos ônibus de São Paulo” circu- la também no Jornal do Ônibus . A tercei- ra edição especial do Jornal do Ônibus, orienta as vítimas dessa situação, que comuniquem de imediato o(a) motorista ou cobrador(a) .” https://t .co/gFEg8iekxD https://t .co/jtFcmmnn9n