Indonesian Super App Creates Safe Zones for Women in Transit Following Recommendations of “After Dark” Research

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One of the women-friendly safe zones designed by Gojek to improve the safety of passengers. Photo courtesy of Gojek/ Illustration by Pulse Lab Jakarta
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Find out more about the work of Pulse Lab Jakarta on https://pulselabjakarta.org/

Affirming its commitment to safety, Gojek, one of the leading super apps in Indonesia recently launched an initiative called #AmanBersamaGojek translated as “safe with Gojek”. Under the pillars of technology, protection and education, this initiative seeks to implement key measures to address the needs of customers and service partners. Zona Aman or “safe zone” represents one of these measures, which adopts recommendations from the After Dark research conducted by our Pulse Lab Jakarta and UN Women around the safety of women travelling at night.

Highlighting the fact that safety goes beyond the adoption of high-tech security measures, these safe zones underscore the importance of fostering a culture of safety in everyday public places. To learn more about how Gojek came across the After Dark research and went about designing this women-friendly intervention, we interviewed Monita Moerdani, Gojek’s Senior Vice President for Transport Marketing. Here she shares some of the app’s main features, the behind-the-scenes support system and how these zones are evolving to cater to different needs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re pleased that Pulse Lab Jakarta’s After Dark research in collaboration with UN Women on women’s safety while travelling at night is cited as a basis for Gojek’s Zona Aman intervention. How did Gojek come across the research?

Safety for women has always been our priority, and 2019 saw several efforts on our part to create a safer transportation ecosystem for women. Towards the end of 2019, we began brainstorming on ways to further improve the safety of our female customers and driver-partners. It was during this period that Gojek was invited to become a panellist on the public talkshow UN Women organized on After Dark to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign in December. We came away with several useful insights from the presentation that Pulse Lab Jakarta gave, as well as from the discussions that followed. Many of these insights fed very well into the brainstorming process that we were carrying out. We also found the report particularly relevant because it acknowledged how on-demand transportation had become a crucial part of women’s daily travel.

In Gojek’s effort to create a safer environment for women passengers, which findings from the After Dark research were particularly useful?

The After Dark report highlighted that waiting zones like an angkot stop are not just transition points; instead they are perceived as “safety assessment” points. We learned that women generally prefer a shorter waiting time and favour locations that have proper lighting. In this waiting space, a woman seeks to establish a sense of safety based on regularity and familiarity. It was interesting to note that women felt safer at angkot stops, because they tend to be located at busy intersections or street corners. And, this remained true even when the locations did not have proper signs, seating, or proper lighting. It was important for us to understand that while proper lighting — and perhaps to a lesser extent, seats and proper signs — was considered by women who travel at night to be a favourable feature, a “busy” area is even more important to provide a sense of safety. The point that bystanders oftentimes may want to help, but may be unsure if intervening is the best course of action was something that also stood out to us.

How did Gojek go about translating these insights to develop a women-friendly intervention?

The main insights underlined above inspired our team at Gojek to transform existing Gojek shelters into safe zones, hence the name “Zona Aman”. We took several steps in designing these zones. We first identified our shelters that were located nearby busy intersections or public transportation hubs; these shelters became prime candidates for our safe zones as they met the criterion of being a “busy” waiting space that provides a sense of safety for women travelling at night. We then made sure that these shelters were fully equipped with proper signage, seating, and most importantly, proper lighting. Pulling on recommendations from the After Dark report, we thought it was pertinent to include educational materials and tips on how one can become an active bystander at the shelters, by allowing individuals to become more informed about how to help victims should they witness harassment in public spaces. These are the main design features of our Zona Aman.

What were some of the requirements needed for these zones to be implemented and is there a sort of support system to facilitate the day-to-day operations?

Prior to the launch of Gojek’s Zona Aman, several planning sessions and discussions took place among various teams to ensure that the operation would run smoothly. And of course, strategic planning was done to identify existing Gojek shelters that were suitable to be turned into a Zona Aman. We took great care to ensure that these safe zones were located in busy areas where many people, including our driver-partners, typically carry out their activities. At several Gojek shelters, such as the ones located next to Sudirman Train Station and Bekasi Train Station, we have deployed staff to standby and manage the day-to-day activities, such as managing driver and customer queues. As these shelters were transformed into Zona Aman, these “managers” were also tasked with helping to maintain the security of the zones. At other locations, such as Lebak Bulus, our safe zones are located near security posts, allowing us to leverage existing safety features in the surrounding environment. Besides relying on dedicated security personnel, both internal and external, we also empower our driver community to maintain the security of Zona Aman. We are very proud of our driver-partners’ natural tendency to do good, and with a bit of added knowledge and motivation, asking for their support in helping to nurture a safe space for women and becoming “active bystanders” was not difficult.

With individuals being encouraged to stay at home amidst the COVID-19 situation, what’s the atmosphere at these zones?

We are currently monitoring the effectiveness of our Zona Aman initiative as an integral part of our business process, in particular through our regular customer surveys. However, one thing that we realised recently is how these safe zones can also evolve to cater to different needs that may arise, despite not being a part of the original concept. Specifically, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been utilising these safe zones as health and safety points. For instance, to ensure the safety and health of our driver-partners and customers, we introduced several preventive measures. These include checking drivers and customers’ temperature upon entering the safe zones, providing hand sanitisers, and distributing masks to customers who need them. So it is heartening to see that Zona Aman has the potential to evolve beyond what it was originally designed to be. This intervention, which is based on the findings and recommendations from the After Dark research, is a testament to the quality of the insights from the report. We were truly lucky to have been invited to the public discussion on the report. The recommendations can also be tailored to meet the needs of other transportation planners within Indonesia.


After Dark: Encouraging Safe Transit for Women Travelling at Night was a research project conducted by Pulse Lab Jakarta in collaboration with UN Women in Indonesia, with the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The research sought to understand the mobility patterns and perceptions of safety among women workers who regularly travel at night.

The full report is available here for download.

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