The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday November 29th

UN Women puts brakes on planned jobs partnership with Uber

United Nations Women, a UN-branch advocating for women, has hit a dead end with Uber — ending discussions of a long-term partnership.

Earlier in March, Uber sponsored UN Women’s event “Planet 50-50 before 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” — which honored the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. The plan was a landmark document identifying “women and health” as prominent international objectives.

Oisika Chakrabarti, a spokesperson for UN Women, said it appreciates Uber’s donation.

“UN Women is grateful for Uber’s generous support to this event, and encourage Uber to continue its efforts to promote gender equality,” Chakabarti said.

Following the event, Uber announced the early stages of a partnership with UN Women in a letter to all Uber drivers on Mar 10, pledging to advance women’s empowerment. The letter, co-written with the executive director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcucka, detailed a plan to create employment for women globally.

“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,” the letter read.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation and Public Services International, a trade union spanning more than 140 countries, condemned the proposed partnership.

“We call on UN WOMEN to cancel its partnership with UBER and to stop cooperation with companies that do not respect workers’ rights,” Rosa Pavanelli, PSI’s general secretary, said in a statement. “The economic empowerment of women can be realized through decent work, not by the creation of low-paid, unprotected and dangerous casual jobs.”

Brigitta Paas, vice president for the International Transport Workers’ Federation, highlighted the unpleasant international reception to Uber’s plan in a March 12 statement.

“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,” Paas said.

Uber has also been criticized for its surge pricing,which can increase a typical fare multiple times over during holidays or high-demand times, and overall lack of rigid regulation. The car service has been repeatedly cited at Raleigh-Durham International Airport for being acting as unregistered taxis.

But the potential partnership was short-lived.

Responding to criticism, Mlambo-Ngcucka formally ended any possibility of working with Uber in a speech March 23.

“I want to assure you that not only are we listening, we are aligned,” she said. “I also want to assure you that UN Women will not accept an offer to collaborate on job creation with Uber, so you can rest assured on this.”

Chakrabarti said UN Women will be uninvolved with Uber’s employment goals for women.

“We have not discussed opportunities to engage with Uber, including in the context of their commitment to create 1 million jobs for women in the next five years,” Chakrabarti said. “At this point, we do not plan to expand the collaboration.”

Despite this canceled partnership, Uber has publicized plans to pursue a relationship with iCare Life, a medical organization, to provide jobs and training to women in India.

“Uber is deeply committed to bring (sic) more economic opportunities to women across all communities in India,” Uber’s website read. “This partnership with iCare Life, the first of many, will empower women with the skill set and knowledge to provide a safe and high quality service in an industry traditionally dominated by their male counterparts.”

This collaboration will come after a high-profile ban on Uber in New Delhi, India’s capital, in December. The decision came as a reaction to the accused rape of a female passenger in the Uber car of Shiv Kumar Yadav, a 32 year-old driver with previous arrests. 

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