International Women’s Day: women behind the wheel in Ghana

Charlotte Bayn is one of the first women to drive a bus in her home country, Ghana. And now transport in Accra is quicker, safer and more sustainable.

‘Women moving the city’ is an initiative to recruit drivers for a new bus rapid transit system in Ghana’s capital city, Accra. Charlotte Bayn is one of 73 women accepted from among 400 applicants to train at the new transport academy. She has now completed her six months’ dual training and is the proud holder of a bus driver’s licence. Around 50 female academy graduates are currently driving buses in Accra.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH designed and planned the dual training as part of a development partnership with Scania and a number of logistics companies. The partnership also involved setting up the training centre and the training company in cooperation with Ghana’s Ministry of Transport. The project is part of the develoPPP.de programme, through which the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development fosters private sector engagement in development policy.

One of the objectives of the project in Accra is to train 600 bus drivers by the end of 2019. In keeping with the spirit of International Women’s Day, equal opportunities at work are a key factor. The development partnership also aims to tackle the shortage of trained professional drivers in Ghana: the country previously had no specialist training for bus and truck drivers.

Alongside addressing the skills gap and ensuring equal opportunities, however, there was also a third factor involved in the decision to target women drivers: statistically, they cause fewer accidents, both in Ghana and elsewhere. Road safety is a particularly important issue in Accra: the city is expanding rapidly and, with it, the volume of traffic on the roads. Careful driving reduces the risk of accidents and also prevents traffic jams. As well as making local public transport run more smoothly, defensive driving also reduces the impact on the environment.

Now permanently employed as a bus driver, Charlotte Bayn is helping to make journeys for the citizens of Accra safer and more sustainable. Her salary enables her to pay her own living expenses and to support her family. And she is fulfilling a long-standing dream: ‘I’ve wanted to drive buses and trucks since I was a child,’ she smiles. Until very recently, it was almost impossible to imagine a woman behind the wheel of a bus in Ghana. The country’s mobility sector is strongly male dominated – though this is changing.

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