REPORT | Statistics SA highlights transport disparities between women and men

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A woman undertaking her driver's test
A woman undertaking her driver's test
  • Statistics South Africa's latest report shows that only a fifth of South Africa's female population possesses a driver's licence.
  • Females from particular racial groups are more likely to use public transport such as taxis and trains.
  • Walking to school or college ranks second regarding how female and male scholars access education in SA.
  • For motoring news, visit Wheels24

It might be no surprise that women in South Africa are far less likely to possess a driver's licence than men. If you guessed that the fairer sex is on the back foot when it comes to personal mobility in the country, you'd be correct.

A recently published gender report by Statistics South Africa (SSA) highlights that only 21.8% of females possessed a driver's licence in 2020 compared to 40.1% of males in SA.

Racial inequality stands out too

The possession of a driver's licence also showed gender and racial disparities. Black South Africans lagged behind all other population groups, with females from this population group recording the lowest percentage (9.6% in 2013 to 13.4% in 2020) compared to females from other population groups.

Black African Females in SA are more likely to use
Black African Females in SA are more likely to use a taxi.

Particular groups use taxis

The SSA report outlines the disparities between males and females on their general travel patterns, and it shows that the use of public transport, particularly taxis, remains skewed toward black African and coloured population groups, with females reporting a slightly higher usage than males. However, females from white and Indian/Asian populations were more likely to be car passengers or car drivers.

Do you think obtaining a driver's license should be made part of SA's school curriculum? Please let us know in the comments section or send us an email here.

Females are more likely to use public transport in
Females are more likely to use public transport in SA compared to males, according to Stats SA.

Access remains a challenge

Access to transport, whether public transport or private transport, is of significance to women's rights and equality. Limited or inadequate access to transportation may limit the quality of life, access to learning, employment, cultural and leisure opportunities of women, SSA notes.

"Transport is critical to achieving social equity because it enables people to participate effectively in various life activities and avert potential exclusions, such as the inaccessibility of education to some learners due to a lack of a viable transportation system," the report expounds.


According to Stats SA: Day trips, defined as travelling away from one's usual home and returning on the same day, but not including trips to educational facilities or work, declined from 60.5% in 2013 to 28.8% in 2020. The reasons for taking trips differ between males and females. Differences in the primary purpose of day trips undertaken during this period showed that females were more likely than males to take trips to religious or cultural or traditional facilities, go shopping, attend funerals, and travel to medical facilities. Males were more likely to have visited friends or family or ancestral homes, attended sporting events, and travelled to look for work.

Too many scholars walk too far

In 2020, travel patterns to educational institutions for Grade R to 12 revealed that more than 70% of learners in rural areas, both male and female, were more likely to walk to school. However, females in urban areas were more likely than males to ride as a passenger in a car, take a taxi, or take the bus to school.

Travel patterns to Post-Secondary Education and Training institutions (PSET) showed that more than 47% of females took a taxi to these institutions. This was 12.5% points higher than their male counterparts, at 34.7%. Walking all the way to the PSET institution was the second most popular mode of transport for both males and females while taking the train was the least popular.

Fewer females are obtaining driver's licenses in S
Fewer females are obtaining driver's licenses in SA each year since 2013.

Safe transport is needed

Statistics SA makes it noteworthy in its report that safe transport is crucial for women's access to decent work, mainly if they depend on public transport and travel late at night.

"Gender-based violence risks increase for women travelling from all walks of life, including walking to and from boarding points and waiting at public transportation boarding points or stations, such as bus, taxi, and train stations. Safety is a significant concern that affects women and girls disproportionately. Women on public transportation may be susceptible to unwanted attention, sexual harassment and violence," SSA notes.

You can download the full report from Statistics South Africa for more information.

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