Female customers currently represent 80% of Uber's Saudi rider base and 70% of business for its Dubai-based counterpart, Careem, according to statistics shared with CNN by both companies. The apps are a lifeline to women with no independent way to get around the Kingdom. Currently, all drivers employed by the two firms are male -- mostly Saudi nationals driving their privately-owned vehicles. Following the ground-breaking royal decree that announced plans to lift the ban on women driving last September, however, both companies have been preparing to hire their first female drivers.
Women are at greater risk of violence while using public transportation everywhere, and Mexico is no exception. Taxis are only marginally safer, with many women wary of hailing a cab off the street at night. So-called "pink taxi" programs have been launched in Puebla and other cities over the years, but they appear to be mostly defunct today. Mexico City has tried to address the issue by designating women-only cars on many buses and on the metro, but still, when Uber launched here in 2013, many women welcomed it. With driver profiles and GPS tracking, it seemed to be a safer option. But when a woman accused a Mexico City Uber driver of rape last year, the hope for a safer way to get around dimmed.
Ride-hailing apps for female drivers and passengers are not unique to Brazil. All-women ride hailing app See Jane Go launched in California in 2016, and rival Safr launched in Boston this year. Yet their rapid growth in cities such as Sao Paulo, Uber’s biggest market by rides, underscores rising concerns about public safety in Brazil and efforts to shield women from the discomfort and danger of a culture steeped in machismo.