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International Women’s Day spotlight: commercial road transport
Global | Geneva

International Women’s Day spotlight: commercial road transport

8 Mar 2023 · People

Commercial road transport has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. Nevertheless, the percentage of women working in the sector is slowly but steadily changing. We look at some of them on this special day.

The share of women truck drivers is less than 3% in most regions.

It’s a bit better in the passenger sector. For example, 22% of bus and coach drivers are women in Denmark. But the European average is below 12%.

Overall, women make up 10% of the road transport sector's workforce globally. It’s a bit higher in Eurasia (22%), Europe (22%) and the United States (28%).

But there are women out there breaking stereotypes and shaping a new industry.

On the occasion of International Women's Day, we spotlight just a few of the women in road transport supporting trade, economic growth, jobs, safety, the environment, communities, and social inclusion.

Women truck drivers

Kelly Diane Freeman is a 30-year-old former beauty therapist who has recently become a truck driver.

Growing up, she spent a lot of time around trucks, as her father had a haulage company. But, as she put it, “back then, it was not common for women to drive trucks.”

After several years of travelling abroad as a beauty therapist, she wanted a career change.

“While I was in New Zealand, I worked in a warehouse where I was loading/unloading trucks. That’s when I got interested in the profession,” Kelly Diane Freeman told us.

Kelly Diane Freeman, truck driver.

Asked if she would recommend this career to other women, Kelly Diane Freeman said, “The support from the very start of my journey has been phenomenal. If you are considering this career, do not hesitate!”

Kelly Diane Freeman is certainly not the only woman truck driver, CNN profiled another one, Amélie Riquelme, earlier this year.

Women bus drivers

There are more women coach and bus drivers than truck drivers. Yet, they still remain few and far between.

We celebrated Women’s International Day 2020 with a story on Egypt’s first female bus driver, Umm Abdalla, a mother of five who wanted to make a living for herself after her husband passed away.

Lisa Van Schaik is another one. As a bus driver, her primary concern is “to drop people off safely.”

“People trust us. When they’re lost, they come and ask us questions,” said Lisa Van Schaik.

Lisa Van Schaik, bus driver.

Asked if she would like to have more female colleagues, she unequivocally replied, “I would really love to have more female colleagues.

“To me, a driver is sociable, helpful and drives safely.

“To all women: come join us!”

Women leaders in road transport

For International Women’s Day, IRU has been running a social media campaign asking female industry leaders what women bring to the road transport industry.

Raluca Marian
Florence Berthelot
Katie Klein
Yan Zhou
Iro Doumani
Tatiana Rey-Bellet
Anna Grönlund
Theresa-Jasmin Meyering
Maria Luisa Boyce

IRU’s efforts to bring more women into the road transport industry supports its members’ work and contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Women’s equality, empowerment and entrepreneurship are directly linked to SDG 5: Gender Equity and, according to UN Women, also have a “multiplier effect” on SDG 1, SDG 3, SDG 4, SDG 8, SDG 9, SDG 10 and SDG 17.