An environment must be created in South Africa where the transport industry is friendly to women, Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters told Fin24 on Wednesday.

“We should look at how we tend to encourage boys to play with cars and girls with dolls,” she said at the global summit of the International Transport Forum (ITF) taking place in Leipzig this week.

“Cars are not just for boys. We should encourage this approach also at school level. There must be platforms and scholarships, for instance, to empower women in science, technology, mathematics and clean energy.”

It is important for her to realise that empowering women in the transport industry would also involve ensuring the safety of women. Affordability is another important issue for her.

“In SA we are committed to gender equality,” said Peters and added that she is the first woman minister of transport SA has ever had – including the apartheid years.

“If we do not appoint women in the transport industry, we are short changing ourselves in SA. Remember, we need both men and women to hold up the sky,” she said during a workshop on women in transport.

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“Accessibility to transport should be one of the issues that are gender equal. Women need to be protected on public transport, for instance, no matter how early or how late they have to use it.”