Queens of the Road
Queenrides’ Iim Fahima Jachja on empowering women to drive safely
By Mary R. Silaban and Gilang Ardana
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
We all know Jakarta’s roads can be a little crazy sometimes, gridlock accentuated by drivers, especially motorcyclists, paying scant attention to rules or safety norms. Having discovered some disturbing data about the capital’s roads being some of the most unsafe in the world, with women suffering a high degree of fatalities in accidents, entrepreneur Iim Fahima Jachja set up Queenrides to help women drivers.
Iim Fahima, who admits she does not know how to drive a car or a motorcycle, has an innovative approach, focusing on riding safely with beauty and style. She shared with AmCham Indonesia her journey in spreading road safety awareness to Indonesian women, and how 230,000 have taken part in her program.
AmCham Indonesia: How did you embark on this business for women’s empowerment?
Iim Fahima Jachja: The company was only established last year, and we call it Queenrides. I happened to read data on Indonesia’s road safety that said it is among the bottom five countries in the world with the worst road safety. We are also a country with the highest growth in accidents, at 80 percent. For the past four years, women drivers have grown by 42 percent in the country, both for motorcycles and cars, and the accident rate is very high, and most of the victims are women.
However, if we look at the current situation, these issues are being ignored, many people are not aware of those facts happening in Indonesia. Or maybe they know, but we are used to seeing numbers as just numbers, to seeing accidents as a common phenomenon. But I am always curious about data, what’s the story behind the data?
I created FGDs [focus group discussions] for this, and several facts emerged. In the past five years, the emancipation of Indonesian women has increased significantly. The number of women workers has increased at a very high rate, and many housewives are also workers. It turns out 80 percent of women drivers are the ones who work for their family. They are the backbone of the family, which means they are also the backbone of the country. They spend around one to four hours on the road [each day]. However, their awareness about road safety is very limited. The data we got from KORLANTAS Polri [the Indonesia Traffic Police] says the fatality ratio for women compared to men drivers from accidents is 5:2.
With this alarming situation, we should take specific action. Otherwise, there will be many motherless families. You can imagine the further impact of this. I am not saying that losing a father will not also have a serious impact, but with this data, I think it is urgent to have specific action for women. For all of those reasons, Queenrides was established, with the vision to empower women to drive safely, and we use methods that are designed specifically for women.
What methods are used by Queenrides?
We are a limited liability company (PT) with the current business model as business-to-business. We focus on educating women about skills, knowledge and safe driving behavior, while also integrating a beauty and style approach. My team is quite small, only eight people.
We have three approaches: safety, style and beauty. These also came from the FGDs we conducted. For safety we have been partnering with the Road Safety Association, an NGO that is connected to Geneva and New York. For style, we still talk about safe driving, but we tweak the message so we are not directly telling them about safety, instead we share info such as “Do you know the type of motorcycle riding jacket that is stylish but also safe?” We often conduct shows where we share do and don’ts and other similar activities. For beauty, we should understand that beauty is part of a woman. We have conducted surveys before asking what are the concerns women have when driving? Part of the answers are about how they can maintain their hair and skin to still look good even though they are driving.
Since we started this movement in January last year, we have already around 230,000 women registered in our community [both online and offline]. We educated around 1,200 women through our events in 2016. For our online activities, visitors stay around four minutes in our website and we have already gained around 500,000 views - not bad at all for a website on safe driving. For offline activities, we conducted 15 events in 2016, with each event ranging up to four hours for a talk show and safety education. It’s kind of like a gathering. We held our first in a coffee shop for 50 participants, then moved to larger places such as hotels and malls. We partner with vendors to provide stuff needed by women in order to make them look stylish and pretty while driving safely. The training we do is free of charge.
From those activities, we can improve women’s awareness of safe driving. They are aware that they need to be safe not only for themselves, but also for their families, for their children. That kind of emotional awareness is what we target, so they can take action in driving safely. Of course, when we talk about women, when we educate them, we also educate the family.
What challenges did you encounter when you first started to educate women about road safety?
Well, if you do not really understand the best approach [to educate women about safety], it will be hard. In Queenrides, we decided to internalize the spirit of “women empower other women,” so we position ourselves as also a learner and not as an expert.
What’s happening currently in our society is women sometimes get bullied for their skill in driving. We should not be like that, instead we should embrace them and learn together with them.
Considering that Indonesia has one of the worst road safety records in the world, what has Queenrides been sharing with women in mitigating the risk of road accidents?
There are basically three key information strands we share with our community: rules, skills and attitude.
For rules, we teach basic knowledge of driving regulations. For instance, not many know that we have two type of tickets [red and blue] and which ticket is for what violation, or the prohibition on motorcycle modifications. For skills, we share safe driving skills and for attitude, we share how to behave safely on the road. That’s what we’ve been doing for the past year, to increase their awareness level about road safety.
I think this movement is way beyond driving matters, it is about how women handle themselves, how they can take control of themselves on the road. This is a women’s movement with the angle of transportation and automotives.
Of the three areas, which one do women lack most?
Skill. For attitude, once we can deliver the right message that touches their emotions, it is very easy to share with them the right knowledge. What’s happening is that so far there has been not much sharing with women on how to drive safely, or if there is, they take the wrong approach.
What about the issue that some Indonesian drivers get their licenses illegally?
There is already a study that revealed that high numbers of road accidents indicate a high corruption rate as well. If you pass the driving license test, surely the number will not be high. Some 90 percent of accidents happen due to the behavior factor, and this means that there is one process that they [the driver] skipped, which is the driving license test.
I think in Indonesia the regulations are already good, but we need also strong monitoring on implementation. But for Queenrides, that’s a higher issue, we cannot wait for change to happen, that’s why we move forward with our movement.
Do you have a plan to create a Kingrides for men?
Yes, this is happening on both sides. Studies say that when it comes to driving, men are more reckless than women. Both men and women have their weaknesses. For men, because by nature they are born as hunters, most road fatalities happen because they are over confident, while for women most of the accidents happen because they are over-cautious.
However, the current data shows that women have a higher rate of fatalities. So we will focus first on women. They are being marginalized in this issue, leadership in the industry is masculine, and regulations overseeing transportation are still also masculine. Thus, this is our current focus. But let’s see in the future, because I am asked a lot about this.
How do you see Queenrides in the next decade?
We want to bring this to the world level. I believe the company, which is categorized as a transportation company, is the first in the world to provide this service.