Uber, the popular ridesharing startup, announced on Tuesday that it is creating 1 million jobs for women by 2020.
The initiative is the result of a partnership with UN Women, a United Nations organization committed to global gender equality — a mission that can only be accomplished when all women have “direct access to safe and equitable earning opportunities,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said in a joint statement.
Currently, Uber has over 160,000 drivers in the U.S. — 14% of which are women — and “hundreds of thousands” of drivers worldwide. The UN Women partnership benefits current drivers like Esther Wanjiru Kirigwi, who shuttles riders around Nairobi, Kenya most “mornings and evenings” to help support her young daughter. Uber General Counsel Salle Yoo suggested driving for the fast-growing startup can be ideal for individuals like Kirigwi because of its flexibility with scheduling: drivers can work as many (or as little) hours as they like, day-to-day.
The UN Women partnership also follows Uber’s announcement of an initiative last fall called UberMilitary, which pledged to sign up 50,000 service members, veterans and military spouses as drivers by 2016. As of February, Uber reported that 10,000 drivers with military backgrounds had earned $18 million.
Uber’s latest announcement comes on the heels of news that Uber expanded its latest funding round by $1 billion up to $2.8 billion at a steady $40 billion valuation. The fast-growing startup has rapidly expanded to 290-plus cities since 2009, raising controversy along the way over regulatory issues and taking fire for allegations made against several male drivers in recent months for sexual harassment or assault.
Uber’s partnership with UN Women could be viewed as another step towards the company being more socially responsible – a boon for drivers like Kirigwi, either way.
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