Working with UN Women, UN Global Pulse in Jakarta is helping end violence against women and girls in cities across Indonesia. Results from our After Dark project have been used to improve safety for millions of women who take public transportation at night. The study looked at safety perceptions and mobility patterns of the many women who face long nighttime commutes because they work night shifts in small retail businesses, yet live in the outskirts where housing is cheaper. 

Many governments have focused on using technology to improve mobility for women, but we showed that smart cities do not always mean safe cities for women. Researchers conducted in-depth interviews in the capital, Jakarta, and three more of Indonesia’s most populous cities,  Medan, Semarang and Surabaya. Researchers asked the women to keep commuting diaries, and later shadowed them on their trips. This provided insights into how infrastructure quality, transportation efficiency, and familiarity with surroundings influenced their perceptions of safety.

The research identified changes that could make the commute safer for women.

Our impact

Bringing the emotions and experiences of individual women into public discussion sparked action and led to policy and practical changes to create safer, more inclusive public spaces for women. Our research pointed to effective and safe ways that bystanders could help women in trouble. 

GoJek, Indonesia’s largest ride-hailing company, used our results to make tangible changes to improve safety for women commuters. For example, it turned its minibus stations (angkot stops) into safe zones for women travelling after dark. 

The project continues to pay dividends, as Medan, Semarang and Surabaya have also taken practical steps to allow women to travel more safely. It’s influenced public policy within the Ministry of Transport, and its National Land Transport Association (ORGANDA).

Our lessons

  • This research proved the effectiveness of a human-centred design in research, leading to comprehensive and empathetic insights into the women’s experiences. It called attention to the need to transform research insights into tangible, user-centred prototypes to improve women’s safety during nighttime commutes.