Tomorrow night, Uber is announcing its newest partnership, this time with UN Women, the organization dedicated to gender equality. The global ride-hail company wants to create 1 million opportunities on the Uber platform for women around the world by 2020.
"We are supportive of the UN Women's goal of accelerating economic opportunities for women," Uber general counsel Salle Yoo told BuzzFeed News. "In the coming weeks, we plan to sit down with UN Women and discuss the most innovative ways to [create these jobs]."
The partnership essentially entails reaching out to women in the places in which UN Women and Uber both have presences. UN Women is on the ground in 48 countries, according to Yoo, and though all of the locations don't necessarily overlap, Uber is available in 55 countries.
"We are going to collaborate with them and we are going to learn from them," Yoo said, citing UN Women's vast local knowledge. "They will teach us how to get our message out there. I believe women will tell other women [about this] as they see how this impacts their lives and we will have that virality."
The company didn't have specific operational details to share yet, but Uber reps did say they plan to begin meeting with UN Women in the next couple of weeks to discuss exactly how they plan to accomplish their goal.
But Uber has a mixed track record when it comes to ensuring the safety of its female drivers. As BuzzFeed News reported, many female drivers in the U.S. have complained of cases where male passengers obtained their phone numbers through the lost-and-found feature and harassed them.
In India, Uber has ramped up its safety measures with features like a panic button for consumers in response to the alleged rape of a woman in January. However, a feature like this has yet to be made available for drivers or even consumers outside of India for that matter.
The company, Yoo said, will be "listening to these women drivers" for ideas on how to evolve its safety measures.
"Safety is the number-one priority for Uber," Yoo said. "We continue to learn and evolve ... women drives bring a lot of real life experience. As a company, [listening to women is] where we should start."
Safety measures to protect female drivers are certainly not one size fits all, particularly for a company that's in as many countries as Uber. Esther Wanjiru Kirigwi, who told BuzzFeed News she heard about Uber through a friend, is the first female driver in Nairobi and will stand alongside Yoo and London Uber driver Natalie Swallow during the announcement. According to Yoo, Kirigwi mentioned that the cashless transactions are a key part of driving safely in Nairobi, in addition to knowing which streets to avoid.
"When I look at this issue the way I think about it is I think that empowering women is part and parcel of gender equality and earning a living on your terms is a huge piece of that," Yoo said. "This is something I believe in."