Whenever you book a ride or order food from your Grab app, you may have noticed a trend: most of the drivers are men. 

We want to change this. 

Grab’s mission is to drive Southeast Asia forward by creating economic empowerment for everyone. One way we do this is by creating income opportunities for our driver- and delivery-partners.

But we aren’t quite there yet. Today, women make up just a small percentage of our community of driver- and delivery-partners. This means that the flexible earning opportunities that our platform offers do not benefit men and women equally. 

The same trend can be observed across Southeast Asia. Women’s participation in paid work lags that of men in the region. They make up slightly over half the population but represent just 42 per cent of the workforce.

Women partners shared that their peers are held back by doubts over whether driving is suitable for them.

While ride-hailing and delivery platforms like Grab offer women the option to pursue economic progress independently, many lack the confidence to take up these opportunities due to social norms against entry into a non-traditional sector like driving. 

The issue is not that women are less qualified. Women driver-partners we spoke to shared that many of their peers were held back by doubts over whether driving is suitable for them. Concerns over safety also weighed on their minds. 

There is a huge gap to be plugged if we want to support the region in maximising its potential for sustainable and equitable economic development. Addressing gender inequality could boost the collective gross domestic product (GDP) of Southeast Asian economies by an estimated US$370 billion a year by 2025, according to McKinsey Global Institute

So, ahead of Women’s Day this year, I am excited to announce the launch of Grab’s Women Programme. It covers a series of long-term initiatives to dismantle stereotypes that prevent women from actively participating in Southeast Asia’s growing digital economy. 

Drive with peace of mind 

As part of the programme, we are testing a feature that increases the chance of women drivers being matched with women passengers, if there is one looking for a ride nearby. 

The new feature prioritises matches between women drivers and passengers.

While 99.99 per cent of our rides occur without incident, the Women Passengers Preferred (BETA) feature will serve as an additional layer of safety for women driver-partners. 

Toggling on the feature will prioritise matches between women drivers and passengers. If there are no women passengers in the vicinity, our partners will still be matched to a non-woman passenger based on our existing allocation approach. This ensures that the earnings of our women driver-partners and the ride experience of our passengers are not compromised. 

Lower barriers to platform onboarding and performance 

At the same time, we will be ramping up efforts to support women in the onboarding and training process. 

For instance, we have set up women-only onboarding sessions in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. Through these sessions, they can expect to learn more about using the Grab driver app efficiently and get tips on managing consumers. 

Vehicle maintenance training in the Philippines.

To equip women with practical skills that will help them feel more confident on the road, we have also rolled out an anti-harassment guidebook regionally and will offer self-defence training in Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

A supportive and equitable system 

Building a more inclusive and welcoming environment for new women joiners is another way we are nudging them towards taking the first step. 

Building an inclusive and welcoming environment for women.

We will be rolling out women-only online communities such as chat groups for them to connect and support one another in each market. 

In the Philippines, there is already a women-only forum where women drivers can share best practices, advice and safety tips with each other. 

We are also looking to provide additional benefits to meet the needs of women on our platform. 

Over in Vietnam, for instance, we are offering discounts on healthcare products and dental services to our women driver- and delivery-partners. 

Bringing more women on board

Driving change and altering mindsets take time. By addressing the needs and concerns of women within the ride-hailing and food delivery industry, we hope to open up new opportunities for women seeking economic independence and build a more diverse and inclusive Grab ecosystem.

We look forward to a future where women drivers are a norm rather than an exception on our platform.

Komsan Chiyadis

GrabFood delivery-partner, Thailand

Komsan Chiyadis

GrabFood delivery-partner, Thailand

COVID-19 has dealt an unprecedented blow to the tourism industry, affecting the livelihoods of millions of workers. One of them was Komsan, an assistant chef in a luxury hotel based in the Srinakarin area.

As the number of tourists at the hotel plunged, he decided to sign up as a GrabFood delivery-partner to earn an alternative income. Soon after, the hotel ceased operations.

Komsan has viewed this change through an optimistic lens, calling it the perfect opportunity for him to embark on a fresh journey after his previous job. Aside from GrabFood deliveries, he now also picks up GrabExpress jobs. It can get tiring, having to shuttle between different locations, but Komsan finds it exciting. And mostly, he’s glad to get his income back on track.