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International Women's Day 2023 Debate

Extract of what Pam said in Parliament on accessible and affordable transport to keep women safe:

As women, we consider our safety from the moment we leave our front door, to the moment we reach our destination. We change our behaviour and routes to protect ourselves from potential danger, we send friends our location, take longer routes to avoid certain areas, and we pay for taxis to avoid walking home at night. And it’s no wonder we do this, given that a staggering 55% of women have experienced harassment or assault on public transport. This, and the threat of it, stops women from accessing opportunities. Fearing our safety not only has a significant impact on our wellbeing, but it has a wider impact on the economy and contributes to women’s poverty overall, too. Women’s fears of travelling are so great that around 4% of the UK GDP is lost because of it. Morally, legally and economically, we must ensure public transport is safe, affordable and reliable so that women can travel freely without fear and participate freely in the economy and society.

It's not just the cost that matters. Inaccessible transport also puts women at risk, too. As a wheelchair user, I know this only too well. I am unable to travel on the same bus as my partner because we both use wheelchairs. Late at night, returning home after a 'light lemonade' in town, we had to split up and get on separate buses. 3 months ago, as we travelled home separately, I was followed off the bus by a man who proceeded to ask me detailed questions about my impairment and where I lived. I had to wait 20 minutes on my own with a strange man, until the next bus came with my partner on it. And instead of going home happy after a night out, I went home scared and angry. Buses in other countries don’t have this rule of one wheelchair user each, and so we must address this here, in Scotland, urgently.

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