Just 10 days after Uber announced a global program to get more women drivers, UN Women has backed away from its highly publicized partnership to create 1 million jobs for women. “We will not collaborate with Uber on job creation, so you can rest assured,” says UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in the video below, which was uploaded to YouTube on March 18.
When reached via email for clarification, UN Women senior communications and media specialist Oisika Chakrabarti told Fast Company:
Uber has provided sponsorship for UN Women’s event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.” Beyond this event, we have not discussed opportunities to engage with Uber, including in the context of their commitment to create 1 million jobs for women in the next five years. At this point, we do not plan to expand the collaboration.
This statement from UN Women appears to contradict a previous announcement from them.
Many dismissed the announcement from Uber as a cynical marketing ploy to distract from recent allegations that Uber drivers have assaulted women passengers. In the press announcement from earlier this month, Uber emphasized safety. “This important mission can only be accomplished when all women have direct access to safe and equitable earning opportunities,” the statement read. “We look forward to a partnership where UN Women and Uber will drive more access to these types of opportunities around the world.”
Unions protested the plan, arguing that the jobs would be insecure, ill paid, and potentially unsafe. Uber treats its drivers like contract workers, meaning they don’t get the full protection and benefits of a full-time employee. As Fast Company pointed out in an article last week, Uber has a long way to go to making its services appealing to women, as both drivers and passengers. As of now, few safeguards exist.
At the time of publication, the original announcement of the program is still up on Uber’s corporate website.
Update 8:20 p.m.: After we published this story, Uber responded to our request for comment:
Uber was proud to sponsor the UN Women event last week, and we share their vision of accelerating economic opportunity for women globally. As part of our commitment to this vision, Uber set an ambitious goal to create 1,000,000 jobs for women as drivers on the Uber platform by 2020. Uber will be seeking advice from UN Women and groups around the world on the best way to achieve the important goal of economic equality and opportunity for women.
Read the full text of Uber’s March 10 blog post below:
In 1995, world leaders followed a call by the United Nations and gathered in Beijing to produce an unprecedented plan for advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women everywhere.
Today, on the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration, we are proud to share with The Uber Community that we are embarking on a new global partnership with UN Women with the goal of accelerating economic opportunity for women. As part of our commitment to this goal, Uber will create 1,000,000 jobs for women as drivers on the Uber platform by 2020.
Here’s the message from UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick that we’re sharing with our riders and driver-partners around the world today:
Today, UN Women and Uber are launching a partnership to work together around the world toward a shared vision of equality and women’s empowerment.
We intend to invest in long-term programs in local communities where we live and work, as Uber commits to creating 1,000,000 jobs for women globally on the Uber platform by 2020.
Join the conversation and help ensure the UN Women’s mission of economic empowerment is heard.
This important mission can only be accomplished when all women have direct access to safe and equitable earning opportunities. We look forward to a partnership where UN Women and Uber will drive more access to these types of opportunities around the world.
Please stay tuned for updates on our efforts.
Executive Director, UN Women