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Gender and Sustainable Urban Mobility. Official Thematic Study for the 2013 UN Habitat Global Report on Human Settlements.

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Abstract and Figures

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Dr. Deike Peters teaches urban planning and development at the University of Southern California in
Los Angeles. From 2000 to 2011, she held various academic appointments at the Technical University
Berlin in Germany – most recently as Director of the Center for Metropolitan Studies’ DFG Research
Group on Urban Megaprojects. She has sixteen years of experience in sustainable transport advocacy
and consulting for international development institutions. Her work has been published in numerous
academic journals and edited volumes. From 2007 to 2011, she served on the HS-Net Advisory Board,
reviewing several draft issues of the Global Report on Human Settlements. Comments may be sent to
the author by email: d.peters@usc.edu.
Gender and Sustainable Urban Mobility
Deike Peters
Thematic study prepared for
Sustainable Urban Mobility:
Global Report on Human Settlements 2013
Available from http://www.unhabitat.org/grhs/2013
Disclaimer: This case study is published as submitted by the consultant, and it has not been edited by
the United Nations.
The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication do not imply the
expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning
the legal status of any country, territory, city or area, or of its authorities, or concerning delimitation of
its frontiers or boundaries, or regarding its economic system or degree of development.
The analysis, conclusions and recommendations of the report do not necessarily reflect the views of
the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, the Governing Council of the United Nations
Human Settlements Programme or its Member States.
Nairobi, 2011
Contents
1. A Gendered Perspective on Sustainable Urban Transport.............................................. 1
2. A Gendered Perspective on Non-Motorized Transport.................................................... 3
2.1. Trends and conditions..................................................................................................... 3
2.2. Impacts and challenges................................................................................................... 7
3. A Gendered Perspective on Public Transport................................................................... 9
3.1. Trends and conditions..................................................................................................... 9
3.2. Impacts and challenges................................................................................................. 11
4. A Gendered Perspective on Informal Motorized Transport.......................................... 12
4.1. Trends and conditions................................................................................................... 12
4.2. Impacts and challenges................................................................................................. 14
5. A Gendered Perspective on Private Motorized Transport............................................. 15
5.1. Trends and conditions................................................................................................... 15
5.2. Impacts and challenges................................................................................................. 19
6. A Gendered Perspective on Commercial Goods Transport........................................... 20
6.1. Trends and conditions................................................................................................... 20
6.2. Impacts and challenges................................................................................................. 22
7. A Gendered Perspective on Land-Use and Transport Planning ...................................23
7.1. Trends and conditions................................................................................................... 23
7.2. Impacts and challenges................................................................................................. 25
8. Policy Responses in Urban Transport.............................................................................. 27
8.1. Gender mainstreaming at the international and national levels.................................... 27
8.1.1. The World Bank’s Gender and Transport Resource Guide website..................... 28
8.1.2. EU recommendations on gender mainstreaming in transport............................... 28
8.2. From sex-disaggregated data sets to gender-sensitive stakeholder consultations........ 28
8.3. Gender auditing for urban transport............................................................................. 31
8.4. Local policy responses: ‘Women-only’ vs. gender-sensitive solutions .......................32
8.4.1. Women-only transit services and parking infrastructures ....................................33
8.4.1.1. Women-only rail services .............................................................................33
8.4.1.2. Women-only bus services............................................................................. 34
8.4.1.3. Women-only taxi services............................................................................. 34
8.4.1.4. Women-only and family parking spaces....................................................... 34
8.4.2. Designing gender-sensitive transit and transport infrastructures.......................... 35
8.4.3. Gender-balanced public signage: re-gendered traffic signs and signals............... 36
8.5. Increasing female employment in transport................................................................. 36
8.6. Impacts of policy responses.......................................................................................... 37
8.7. Challenges for future policy development ................................................................... 40
9. Future Policy Directions: Towards Gender-Sensitive Urban Transport Policies, Plans
and Projects................................................................................................................... 41
9.1. Gender and sustainable urban transport and mobility: Evidence and responses.......... 41
9.2. Revisiting the transport and gender dimensions of the Millennium Development Goals41
9.3. The ‘9 Ps’ of gender-sensitive urban transport planning and additional resources...... 43
9.4. Concluding remarks...................................................................................................... 45
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Deike Peters iii Gender
List of References................................................................................................................... 46
Annex A. Overview of the World Bank Gender and Transport Resource Guide ...........54
Annex B. Transport Policy Recommendations From the International Preparatory
Conference ‘Gender Perspectives for Earth Summit 2002’ in Berlin...................... 57
Annex C. Gender Mainstreaming in Transport: EU Policy Recommendations.............. 59
Annex D. Sample ‘Women and Public Transport’ Gender Audit Checklist.................... 60
List of boxes
Box 1. Women as a means of commercial goods transport in Accra, Ghana............................ 6
Box 2. After the rickshaws ban, a Dhaka woman’s struggle to access public transport
(Bangladesh) ..............................................................................................................10
Box 3. Baltimore’s hacks: Gendered perspectives on using informal motorized transport in the
US............................................................................................................................... 12
Box 4. Gender differences in using motorcycles as paratransit in Nigerian cities................... 14
Box 5. Motorbikes and maternal health................................................................................... 17
Box 6. Practical necessity trumps legal ban against women drivers in Saudi Arabia.............. 18
Box 7. Truck and taxi divers’ wives’ advocacy for their husbands’ rights, Rwanda............... 22
Box 8. Gendered perspectives on life and travel in post-socialist suburban Sofia, Bulgaria... 24
Box 9. Using cognitive mapping and geographic information systems (GIS) for gender-
sensitive transport prioritization: Results from a pilot study in Southern Lesotho.... 30
Box 10. The feminization of Peruvian traffic police: Ending corruption by hiring female
officers ....................................................................................................................... 37
Box 11. The tangible impacts of teaching women how to ride: ITDP’s AfriBike pilot project39
Box 12. Key resources for mainstreaming gender into urban transport on the web................ 43
Box 13. The ‘9 Ps’ of gender-sensitive urban transport planning and policy making............. 44
List of figures
Figure 1. Women’s share of bike trips in selected developed countries.................................... 4
Figure 2. Mode shares by gender and ethnicity in Johannesburg, South Africa........................ 5
Figure 3. Gendered car use in Germany, 2002 – 2008............................................................. 16
Figure 4. Female employment by transport sub-sector, EU27, 2001 and 2005 (per cent) ......20
Figure 5. ‘Twin-track’ gender mainstreaming ......................................................................... 27
Figure 6. Toward socially inclusive and gender-responsive transport planning: Stakeholder
consultation for the Timor-Leste Road Sector Improvement Project........................ 29
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Deike Peters iv Gender
List of tables
Table 1. Trips by gender and mode of transport in the UK ..................................................... 15
Table 2. Employment in transport occupations in Great Britain (2003).................................. 21
Table 3. Policy initiatives aimed at female employment in transport...................................... 36
Table 4. The transport and gender dimensions of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)42
List of pictures
Picture 1. Woman transporting an older woman and child in a cargo bicycle in Copenhagen.. 3
Picture 2. Pedestrians in Tokyo, Japan....................................................................................... 3
Picture 3. Girl biking in Los Angeles, US................................................................................. 3
Picture 4. Man transporting women in a cycle rickshaw in Bukhara, Uttar Pradesh, India...... 3
Picture 5. Girl carrying water in East Africa............................................................................. 3
Picture 6. Men pulling and pushing carts in Mombasa, Kenya................................................. 3
Picture 7. Woman carrying fruit in Hanoi, Viet Nam............................................................... 3
Picture 8. Woman carrying a basket in Mexico........................................................................ 3
Picture 9. Informal motorized transport in Senegal ................................................................ 13
Picture 10. Informal motorized transport in Kenya................................................................. 13
Picture 11. Female tuk-tuk driver in Kathmandu, Nepal......................................................... 13
Picture 12. Okada motorcycle taxis passenger loads, Nigeria: Six children............................ 13
Picture 13. Okada motorcycle taxis passenger loads, Nigeria: Woman with infant................ 13
Picture 14. Motorcycle ambulance in Southern Sudan............................................................ 18
Picture 15. Midwife on motorbike in Timor Leste................................................................... 18
Picture 16. Women-only train Tokyo, Japan (Keio Line)........................................................ 32
Picture 17. Women-only train Tokyo, Japan (JR Line) ...........................................................32
Picture 18. Women-only train, Taipei main station, China...................................................... 32
Picture 19. Women-only train in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia..................................................... 32
Picture 20. ATENA Program for women-only buses in Mexico............................................. 32
Picture 21. ATENA Program for women-only buses in Mexico............................................. 32
Picture 22. ‘Women-only’ parking in Germany....................................................................... 35
Picture 23. Parking for ‘expectant mothers’............................................................................. 35
Picture 24. ‘Family-friendly’ parking in the US...................................................................... 35
Picture 25. Gendered traffic sign in Vienna, Austria............................................................... 36
Picture 26. Gendered traffic signal in Vienna, Austria............................................................ 36
Picture 27–29. African women and girls learning to ride bicycles under the Afribike
programme ................................................................................................................. 39
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Deike Peters v Gender
GRHS 2013: Thematic report
Deike Peters vi Gender
List of acronyms
CIDA Canadian International Development Agency
DFID UK Department for International Development
EU European Union
GDP gross domestic product
GIS geographical information systems
GIZ German Agency for International Development [new since 2011]
GTZ German Agency for Technical Corporation
KfW German Development Bank (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau)
SIDA Swedish International Development Agency
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UK United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
US United States of America
US$ US dollars
USAID US Agency for International Development
1. A Gendered Perspective on Sustainable Urban Transport
Why ‘Gender1 and Transport’? Contrary to the situation just a couple of decades ago, there is
now a well established literature on the subject, and few transport experts today would dispute
the need for greater gender sensitivity in urban transport analysis, planning and practice.
Patterns of access and use of transportation infrastructures and means of transport are all
deeply gendered. While these patters may vary deeply across different cities and regions, one
key fact remains the same the world over: Women’s travel patterns are different from
men’s, and these differences are characterized by deep and persistent inequalities.
Within any given urban setting, women have inferior access to both private and public
means of transport while at the same time assuming a higher share of their household’s
travel burden and making more trips associated with reproductive and caretaking
responsibilities.
Women are also more likely to be the heads of single-parent households. Put in very
simple terms, women thus have a harder time getting around in cities while at the same time
having to accomplish more challenging and more complex travels. Research also consistently
shows that women travel shorter distances to work than men in most settings, and that gender
differences in commuting increase in the suburbs compared to inner cities.2 Women are
generally also less likely to find employment in urban transport. It is important to be clear that
it is just a matter of simple ‘gender differences’ due to women and men taking on different
roles in society. This is not a case of ‘different but equal’ but a case of an unequal burden
related to the persistent problem of gender inequality within human societies. The unequal
power relationship between the sexes (i.e. ‘patriarchy’) is one of the most pervasive features
of both pre-modern and modern civilizations.
This report is designed to:
present empirical evidence of trends and conditions of gendered transport usage,
differentiated by different travel modes, and of gendered employment in urban
transport;
review impacts and challenges related to these gender differences;
review policy responses designed to address these gender inequalities and their
resulting challenges; and
provide summary findings and present lessons for policy.
Urban transport planning and policy-making all over the world remains strongly
influenced by transport planning standards, procedures and methodologies which were
developed in the industrialized North over the course of the 20th century and which were
biased in favour of individual journey-to-work trips which were increasingly assumed to be
undertaken by private motorized means of transport. Although long-assumed to be ‘gender-
neutral’, evidence over the last several decades has clearly revealed the deeply gendered
nature of such transport planning and policy-making. The core planning paradigm upon which
these approaches was based implicitly or explicitly assumed that households typically
consisted of nuclear families with traditional division of labour, i.e. households consisting of a
1. ‘Gender refers to culturally-based expectations of the roles and behaviors of males and females. The term
distinguishes socially constructed roles from biologically determined aspects of being male and female. Gender roles and
responsibilities transform over the life cycle and can change overall, sometimes quite quickly. Several aspects of gender roles
and responsibilities undermine economic growth and reduce the well-being of men, women, and children: Gender-based
division of labor; Disparities in power and control of resources; Gender biases in rights and entitlements.’ (World Bank,
undated).
2. Blumen, 1994.
GRHS 2013: Thematic report
Deike Peters 1 Gender
male ‘breadwinner’ with primary responsibility for the ‘productive’ tasks within the
household, a female ‘home-maker’ with primary responsibility for the ‘reproductive’
caretaking tasks. Whereas men tended and still tend to make longer yet more direct
commuting trips, women are typically responsible for getting children to and from school, and
for other household and caretaking tasks such as shopping, medical visits, elder care or
children’s after school activities.3 Journey-to-work trips – understood as trips by men in
private motor vehicles – became the focus of transport planning in developed countries, with
these methodologies then also inappropriately exported to developing countries. Today, the
problematic nature of these underlying assumptions is much better understood, especially
since households and household divisions of labour have dramatically changed in the last half
century, both in developed and developing countries. Most importantly, women now make up
an increasingly higher percentage of wage earners, both in formal and informal economic
settings. This means women now have to manage even more complex travel patterns,
carefully ‘chaining’ their trips from schools to places of work to shopping, health care, and
recreational facilities or places of worship. Women’s mobility patterns are also more
intimately bound up with their children’s mobility patterns than men’s.
3. See, for example, Cresswell and Uteng, 2008; Hanson and Pratt, 1995; Law, 1999; Levy, 1991.
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Deike Peters 2 Gender
2. A Gendered Perspective on Non-Motorized Transport
Non-motorized transport is not a mode of choice but of necessity for a majority of the urban
poor in developing countries, simply because they cannot afford any motorized forms of
transport. This chapter will provide a short yet comprehensive overview of gendered instances
of non-motorized transport both in developed and developing countries, starting with the
former yet emphasizing the latter. Pictures 1–8 feature some of the non-motorized transport
situations in different human settlements around the world.
Pictures 1–8: 1. Woman transporting an older woman and child in a cargo bicycle in Copenhagen,
Denmark. 2. Pedestrians in Tokyo, Japan. 3. Girl biking in Los Angeles, US. 4. Man transporting women in
a cycle rickshaw in Bukhara, Uttar Pradesh, India. 5. Girl carrying water in East Africa. 6. Men pulling and
pushing carts in Mombasa, Kenya. 7. Woman carrying fruit in Hanoi, Viet Nam. 8. Woman carrying a
basket in Mexico
Sources and ©: 1. Mikael Colville-Andersen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/16nine/2471827952/;
2. Travis Nep Smith at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nep/3371989118/; 3. by author; 4. NH53 at
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nh53/5155914418/; 5. David Dennis at http://www.flickr.com/photos/
davidden/358833636/; 6. by author; 7. Maurice Koop at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mauricekoop/
311344940/; 8. Nathan Gibbs at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathangibbs/309300235/.
2.1. Trends and conditions
Despite the existence of a growing literature on gender differences in urban travel,
particularly in developed countries, specific studies on gender differences in walking and
cycling patterns and preferences are still relatively scarce, so the evidence presented here is
still drawing from a comparatively small pool of studies. In North America,4 researchers have
4. Land-use patterns in North America are rarely conducive to walking and cycling, and Americans are regularly using
cars even for very short trips under half a mile, leading to rising levels obesity and ill health among the general population
(Craig et al, 2002; Ewing et al, 2003).
GRHS 2013: Thematic report
Deike Peters 3 Gender
now demonstrated a direct inverse relationship between obesity and rates of walking, cycling
and transit use across developed countries.5 In general, women in the US are more likely to
walk than men, but in more concentrated areas, and they are more concerned about safety and
appropriate lighting.6 Fear of victimization and crime is clearly a deterrent to walking,
especially at night, or to waiting for transit in public places.7 Women are also still less likely
to commute by bicycle than men.8 They are more likely, however, to bike for shopping,
errands or visits to friends, and they also place a higher value than men on safe cycling
infrastructures such as clearly marked bike lanes even on lower trafficked streets or fully
separated bike ways along major transitways.9
As Figure 1 indicates, women’s share of cycle trips varies greatly in developed countries,
ranging from a low 21 per cent in Australia to a high of 55 per cent in the Netherlands. Key
factors for the Netherlands’ high rates of bicycle use among women (alongside men) is the
extensive availability of traffic-protected cycling infrastructures and the fact that cycling is an
essential part of urban culture.10
In developing countries the situation is rather different. For the most part, non-motorized
transport is not a mode of choice. The central insight from available evidence world-wide is
that due to both economic and social reasons, a significantly higher share of women than men
have no access to either individual or public means of transport and are hence dependent on
walking. In essence, poor women are forced to walk and headload. Research in Bamako
Figure 1. Women’s share of bike trips in selected developed countries
Source: Pucher, 2009, p.13.
5. Pucher, 2009, p5.
6. Clifton and Livi, 2005.
7. Loukaitou-Sideris, 2005.
8. Tao, 2009.
9. Krizek et al, 2005.
10. Pucher, 2009, p13.
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Deike Peters 4 Gender
Figure 2. Mode shares by gender and ethnicity in Johannesburg, South Africa
Source: Kunieda and Gauthier, 2007.
(Mali) demonstrated that 87 per cent of all women surveyed had no access to individual
means of transport, whereas only 57 per cent of men were in the same position.11 Evidence
from low-income populations in Chennai (India) and Chengdu (China) also revealed stark
differences: as many as 83 per cent of the poor women in Chennai walked, compared to the
men, of whom 63 per cent walked; in Chengdu, 59 per cent of the women surveyed walked,
while only 39 per cent of the men walked. There is also a stark difference in bicycle use in the
two cities, which is largely explained by the near complete lack of bicycle facilities in
Chennai, resulting in male bicycle rates of 8 per cent and women rates of only 1 per cent,
compared with a cycling mode share of a comparatively impressive 32 per cent for men in
Chengdu, and a much lower but still solid 19 per cent for women. Once again, gender
differences in cycle use within the cities are largely explained by women’s higher concern for
safe riding environments and their inferior access to personal means of transport.12
It is also important to note, however, that motorized and non-motorized mode shares are
strongly influenced by both gender and ethnicity. Figure 2 presents mode shares by gender
and ethnicity in Johannesburg, South Africa, showing starkly different modal use patterns
both within the male and female data set depending on ethnicity (which, in the case of South
Africa, is strongly correlated with income). That is: even within the very same city, white
women’s modal usage is much more similar to that of their white male counterparts than to
African or coloured women: both male and female whites drive cars for over 50 per cent of
their trips, and their walking shares are below 10 per cent. By contrast, no African or coloured
woman had a car available to drive at all (although about 7 per cent of African men and over
20 per cent of coloured men did), and walking accounted for over or just under 40 per cent of
African and coloured women’s trips, respectively, which was in fact roughly similar to their
male counterparts. This underscores the fact that gender assessments always need to be
carried out in full awareness of all other social and economic factors in order to be fully
effective.
11. Data in Pochet et al, 1995.
12. Srinivasa, 2008.
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Deike Peters 5 Gender
There is now also rich and expansive literature documenting the immense struggle
women in developing countries face in delivering their produce and goods to local markets.13
The backs, heads, and handcarts of both rural and urban women are typically the first link of
the international transport chain for many of the products which ultimately end up on the
shelves of stores and supermarkets across the world.
Additionally, in developing country cities, a large share of urban goods transport occurs
via non-motorized means, and this informal sector is often heavily gendered. There is still a
much greater paucity of specific studies and policy interventions to fully comprehend and
address this gendered transport challenge in urban settings, and much additional research is
needed to tease out locally specific practices, but the main problem once again remains the
same the world over: women and girls are frequently carrying large loads on their heads and
backs, while men tend to have better access to transport technology, even if this just means a
push cart or load-carrying bicycle. Box 1 presents the situation of female porters in Accra,
Ghana.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, high instances of maternal mortality due to
pregnancy-related complications are closely linked to poor women’s non-access to reliable,
on-demand motorized transport.14 While instances of material mortality due to non-
(motorized) access to healthcare facilities have been most dramatically demonstrated in
certain African regions,15 the issue clearly has global relevance and reach (also see Box 5 in
Chapter 5 below).
Box 1. Women as a means of commercial goods transport in Accra, Ghana
In Africa, a significant portion of commercial goods are transported by non-motorized means. There
are, however, significant gender inequalities to observe. When men or boys transport goods, they
typically do so with the aid of technology such as carts, wheel barrows or bicycles. Women and girls,
however, have but their heads and backs to perform load carrying functions. This type of gender
segregation in human portering has been found to be both pervasive and complete: Research among
male and female porters in Accra, Ghana in the 1990s revealed no instance of women or girls using
technology and an overall highly segregated market: While teams of three to six boys or men jointly
rented trolleys to transport more remunerative, heavier loads of larger traders over larger distances,
women or girls individually rented dead pans to carry the smaller loads of petty traders or travellers.
While males were mostly long-term residents, most females, especially the young girls, were recent
arrivals from rural areas. Both men and women cited ‘god-given’ customs, along with the lower
physical strength and the dangers and difficulties of negotiating the chaotic traffic on Accra’s streets
as the main reasons for this gender division in the kayayoo [porter] community. The researchers bring
the voices of the porters alive in their report:
A 25 year old truck boy: God wants me to push a truck and a woman to carry loads on the head.
A 32 year old kayayoo: Men are stronger and we have babies which will be very difficult to push
trucks with.
Source: Apt et al, undated, Grieco et al, 1996, Oparei, 2003.
13. The two best starting points to key writings and materials on the subject are International Forum for Rural Transport
and Development (IFRTD)’s 2002 book and pertaining website ‘Balancing the load: Women, Gender and Transport’ at
http://www.ifrtd.org/new/proj/bal_load.php (last accessed 11 May 2011) and key sections of the World Bank’s ‘Gender and
Transport Resource Guide’ hosted by the Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Program at http://www4.worldbank.org/afr/ssatp/
Resources/HTML/Gender-RG/index.html, last accessed 11 May 2011.
14. Turner, undated.
15. Grieco and Turner, 2005.
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Deike Peters 6 Gender
2.2. Impacts and challenges
A further increase in non-motorized transport trips, along with an increase in transit use and a
move away from auto dependency is now the ultimate goal for sustainable transport policy in
most developed country cities. Women have both become a major force as active participants
in the liveable streets movement, and have been identified as an ‘indicator species’ for bike-
friendly cities: cities able to attract significant numbers of new female cyclists are typically
doing so by offering safe, protected bike infrastructures and services.16
In developing countries, where access to both motorized personal and public transport is
less readily available, the ‘sustainability’ and desirability of relying on non-motorized
transport needs to be somewhat questioned, especially in contexts where excessive walking
puts a heavy physical strain and time burden on women who are already income and time
poor. As demonstrated above, women’s access to basic non-motorized means of transport
such as carts or load-carrying bicycles is often restricted, resulting in frequent strain injuries,
neck and back pain due to excessive head loading. Access to carts and bicycles thus becomes
the key challenge.
Cultural reservations are often cited as presenting a major challenge preventing women
from accessing bicycles and learning how to ride, especially in Africa, but studies have
demonstrated that such reservations can be highly local, varying from one (ethnic) community
across town to another, and that they are actually more susceptible to change than initial
verbalizations of ‘women can’t ride’ may indicate.17 Box 11 in Chapter 8 on policy responses
shows how economic and socio-cultural constraints to women’s and girls’ cycling were
successfully overcome in the Afribike project in South Africa.18
Most poor urban residents do not have access to such well-devised interventions,
however. A recent study of 5000 slum residents in Nairobi, Kenya is highly representative of
the situation in informal settlements all over the world:
[T]he majority cannot afford any of the motorized transport options in the city.
They cope by limiting their travel outside their settlement and, if they do travel, by
often “choosing” to walk. [T]he burden of reduced mobility is borne dispropor-
tionately by women and children. [W]omen, men, and children in this population
each face distinct barriers to access. We conclude that policy aiming to improve
mobility and transport access for the poor needs to grapple not only with the
crucial issue of affordability but also with specific constraints faced by women
and children.’19
This does not mean that poor men are not affected by the problem of excessive walking,
of course. Yet given women’s inferior access to vehicles and their multiple roles and resulting
time poverty, the effects are disproportionately greater on women.20 Also note that women’s
reliance on informal transit, discussed in more detail below, is often focused on non-
motorized paratransit such as cycle rickshaws in Asia or boda-boda bicycles in Africa
16. See Baker, 2009. Also see, for example, Forbes, 2010, the Fall 2010 issue of Reclaim, the New York bike-ped
advocacy NGO Transport Alternative at http://www.transalt.org/newsroom/magazine/2010/Fall or the March 2010 free
webinar by the Association and Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals in the US entitled ‘Writing Women Back into
Bicycling’ which is archived at http://www.apbp.org/event/women_in_cycling, last accessed 11 May 2011.
17. Turner and Kwakye, 1996.
18. See White, 1999, pp.8–10; and Mahapa, 2003.
19. Salon and Gulyani, 2010 p. 3.
20. Spatially segregated and gendered labour markets may additionally complicate the issue however. In Nairobi, for
example, industrial areas north of the centre irregularly employ a largely male workforce, so men walk for miles every day to
search for work there. Poor women, by contrast, are most likely to find somewhat more regular employment as cleaning staff
and household help among richer families located closer to their place of residence.
GRHS 2013: Thematic report
Deike Peters 7 Gender
because these modes are more affordable than their motorized counterparts. As a 1998
Habitat Debate article pointed out:
‘For many women in developing countries, cycles or animal-drawn carriages are
the most accessible and affordable modes of transport available besides walking.
A 1997 World Bank study revealed that 35 per cent of female commuters [in
Dhaka] relied on cycle rickshaws as their sole mode of transport, with another 6
per cent using them in combination with bus services and scooters. One fourth of
all women also relied on rickshaws for accessing educational facilities. So when
the Government of Bangladesh recently proposed to ban rickshaws from the
streets of Dhaka, they were singling out not only the most environmentally-
friendly mode available, but the one transport choice most essential and
accessible to women, thereby gravely affecting their mobility.’21
Bans on non-motorized paratransit thus gravely affect women’s already constrained
mobility. Box 2 at the end of the next chapter on public transport continues the above account
of Dhaka, providing one woman’s personalized account of the effects of the rickshaw ban on
her daily routine. In cities where non-motorized taxi services are not readily available, women
either have to walk or pay for motorized transit, provided they can access it.
21. Peters, 1998.
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Deike Peters 8 Gender
3. A Gendered Perspective on Public Transport
This chapter presents evidence of trends and conditions of gendered public transport systems,
followed by a brief discussion of key impacts and challenges, and an illustrative case study.
3.1. Trends and conditions
Available evidence in urban contexts where households have a choice between motorized
private and public means of transport typically shows a much higher dependence of women
on public means of transport; a finding which is directly related to women’s inferior economic
position in society and within households and to the tendency of male members of households
to appropriate private means of transport. Within the available spectrum of available public
transit choices, the use of certain modes is often heavily divided by gender, income and race.
For example, in heavily car-dependent Los Angeles, suburban commuter rail transit patrons
are predominantly middle-class, white, male choice riders, while inner-city bus patronage is
predominantly non-white, transit-dependent, poor and often female.22 The report ‘Women in
Transit’ by the Women’s Foundation of California found that ‘low-income African American
women with children take five times more trips by public transit than the general female
population and six times more trips than men.23 Advocating for mass transit from an urban
sustainability perspective therefore always needs to be cross checked against social
perspectives, including race, class and gender. Local, flexible, off peak transit operations are
typically more important to women (as well as youth and elderly) than men, so the socio-
economic impacts of not providing such services at adequate cost are not gender neutral.
Due to their lower economic status, women often have to use less expensive, less
desirable public transit options than men. A major finding in a social assessment for an urban
transport project in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, where women had 30 per cent lower earnings
than men, was that women relied more heavily on cheaper and less reliable buses and trolleys,
whereas men had comparatively better access to minibuses, taxis or enterprise transport.24
Contrary to the situation in developed countries, where women tend to make up the majority
of transit riders, public transport in developing countries is often among the more expensive
mode choices available to households. In such contexts, low-income women tend to use
public transport less than men, reverting to even cheaper, yet typically less attractive
intermediate or non-motorized modes.
Safety and security in public transport are crucial issues which disproportionately affect
women. Women are frequently subject to unwanted sexual contact in public transit. For
example, according to a survey by Tokyo Metropolitan Policy and East Japan Railway
Company, two-thirds of female passengers between the ages of 20–39 said that they had been
groped on trains, many of them frequently.25 Trains are typically too crowded to identify the
perpetrators and in 2004, Tokyo Police reported that groping on trains had increased three
times over the last eight years.26 One important policy response to this in many cities around
the world is the introduction of special women-only services, described in more detail in
Chapter 8. Note that harassment may originate both with fellow passengers and with transport
operators.
22. Mann, 2001.
23. Women’s Foundation of California, 2005 p. 3.
24. Kudat, 1996, p. iv.
25. See http://wapedia.mobi/en/Women-only_passenger_car, last accessed 7 December 2010.
26. Joyce, 2005.
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Deike Peters 9 Gender
In many cities and towns with large Muslim populations, the social institution of pardah
(sometimes also spelled purdah) refers to the practice of gender-segregating access to public
areas, with certain Muslim societies even more strictly stipulating against any mixing of non-
relative females and males in public. This makes it extremely difficult if not impossible for
women to share crowded public transport with men, resulting in additional calls for women-
only train cars and/or women-only bus services in many Muslim cities.
Women’s access to crowded public transport may be additionally constrained in contexts
where preferential boarding practices for men results in women being left behind, as
evidenced in Box 2 below. Meanwhile, problems with safety and security in public transport
continue to disproportionately affect women.27 The unavailability of safe transport also
seriously impact girls’ educational possibilities, as parents will keep them away from school if
transit is unsafe.28
Box 2. After the rickshaws ban, a Dhaka woman’s struggle to access public transport (Bangladesh)
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, where pardah is key factor of public life, women heavily rely on cycle
rickshaws for convenient door-to-door travel. In December 2002, as part of the World Bank-funded
Dhaka Urban Transport Project, cycle rickshaws (responsible for 20 per cent of all trips) were banned
from several major routes to improve conditions for motorized transit (responsible for under 10 per
cent of all trips). Walking accounted for almost 60 per cent of all other trips. The personal account
below, published in Dhaka’s Daily Star Weekend Magazine on 6 June 2003, illustrates the strongly
gendered, negative effects the rickshaw ban had on women, especially since bus drivers gave
preferential service to men:
The other day, in a desperate attempt to go to my workplace in time, I had to resort to riding the local
buses. But to my astonishment, I was told off by the busboy at the gate, he shouted, “mahila seat naai”
(there is no seat for women). It was in the morning, and after an hour or so desperately looking for a
CNG scooter, I decided to opt for the bus. I am a makeup artist, and I need to go to different places
every morning to serve my clients. But after the government enforced the regulation that put a stop to
plying of rickshaws and two-stroke scooters in Mirpur road, everyday I go through an ordeal looking
for transport.[…] Buses refuse to take women passengers during rush hour. I have seen our male
counterparts taking up the seats reserved for women. Often when there is no shortage of male
passengers then the buswalahs (bus operators) simply avoid women. Only the government can change
this scenario, as they are the ones who decided to withdraw rickshaws and two stroke scooters from
the road.’
Source: Zohir, 2005, pp. 17 and 25 (quote).
Bus drivers and train conductors across the world are predominantly male. This strong
male bias typically extends from the operational into the managerial and executive levels at
transit agencies. Detailed employment figures for 2002 from Metropolitana di Roma (Italy),
the company responsible for running several of Rome’s regional railway and metro lines, also
provided a telling picture: of the company’s 2,600 employees, only 283 were women, i.e. 11
per cent. Of these, only four women were working in maintenance and only two in engine-
driving activities. Of the remaining 277, most were office workers and office/station
operators, with only 20 of them working in managerial positions.29 In London (UK), about 6
per cent of bus drivers are women, an increase from even much lower numbers in the past.30
That targeted interventions can make a difference is evidenced by the example of London
Underground, which won an Equality Award for increasing female employment in the
27. Loukaitou-Sideris et al, 2002.
28. See Fernando and Porter, 2002 (Chapter 1).
29. EMCC and EFILWC, 2007, p. 27.
30. EMCC and EFILWC, 2007, pp. 42–44; Hamilton et al, 2005.
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Deike Peters 10 Gender
organisation. Between 2000 and 2005, the number of female train operators in London
increased from 2.6 to 6.9 per cent, female sign operators went from 4 to 7.4 per cent, women
in middle management went from 17.2 to 22.6 per cent and women in senior management
went from 13 to 20.1 per cent.31
3.2. Impacts and challenges
Researchers have consistently identified the fact that the planning, provision and operation of
public transit is primarily undertaken by men as one of the main obstacles to properly gender-
sensitizing transit operations.32 Transit agencies may have a general interest in providing
adequate service to all customers, but unless a specific effort is constantly made to ask both
men and women what they need and want and how services can be improved, sub-optimal
solutions persist. Given that women, especially those who are older and low-income, make up
a majority of captive transit riders, are more likely to travel off-peak and along lower capacity
routes, and more often travel encumbered with children or groceries, special attention and
advocacy is needed to meet their needs. Given that these challenges are not immediately
present in their own daily routines, those (men) who plan and implement public transit
services typically do not pay adequate attention to issues most important to women. As a
result, bus shelters and train stations often lack basic safety and comfort features (lighting,
benches, emergency call options) built-in barriers where barrier-free access could have easily
been provided, etc. While these features in and of themselves are not gender-specific, the
impact of omitting them is not gender neutral. (Male) transit planners are also often overly
concerned with reducing point-to-point travel times and speed instead of focusing on the
improvement of overall system integration, reducing wait times, and increasing flexibility and
affordability. Women’s willingness to pay for special services and their latent demand is
frequently discounted or not explored.
31. All data directly cited from Kunieda and Gauthier, 2007, p.33.
32. Allen, 2002; Loukaitou-Sideris and Fink, 2008.
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4. A Gendered Perspective on Informal Motorized Transport
This section presents a gendered perspective on informal motorized transport, often called
paratransit.33 Its use and availability is much more extensive in developing than in developed
country contexts. In developed countries, ‘paratransit’ mainly relates to two aspects, namely
employer-based services, e.g. special bus or van services organized to collect workers to drive
them to a particular employment location or specialized services for senior citizens or people
with disabilities who are unable to operate a vehicle on their own. Such shuttle van services
and on-demand dial-a-rides are usually highly regulated and even government mandated, thus
technically falling outside the scope of this chapter.34 In developing country environments, by
contrast, informal motorized transport is an essential yet often inferior supplement to formal
transit operations. It often makes up the bulk of transport for the most disadvantaged groups.
Informal motorized transport takes on vastly different forms in different cities around the
world – from buses, vans and minivans to converted pick-ups, auto rickshaws or motorcycles
– all with different gender dimensions. Typical problems of informal motorized transport with
strong gender implications parallel those of public transport and are related to overcrowded
and unsafe riding conditions, unregulated fares, harassment, and preferential boarding being
given to male passengers. This chapter first discusses door-to-door services in developed
countries before discussing key gender dimensions of paratransit use in developing countries.
4.1. Trends and conditions
The most comprehensive study on paratransit services in developed countries is now almost
twenty years old, yet most of its key insights still apply.35 It effectively shone a spotlight on
small vehicle operators who serve market niches and work on irregular, on-demand schedules.
While much of the urban paratransit market in developed countries is now highly regulated,
most cities do also have a fringe market of informal taxi and van operations which cater to
low-income residents, typically in immigrant communities where few people own their own
vehicles. Box 3 presents recent insights on informal motorized transport in Baltimore.36
Box 3. Baltimore’s hacks: Gendered perspectives on using informal motorized transport in the US
A recent study of informal cab operators (‘hacks’) in four low-income neighbourhoods in Baltimore,
Maryland demonstrated how these informal motorized transport services are used to ‘compensate for
public system service deficiencies, spatial deficiencies or cost barriers. Of the people surveyed, 89 per
cent were African American and 67 per cent female, indicating a higher usage of women than men for
these services. A high number, about 40 per cent, regularly use public transport. While respondents
found that public transit was accessible and affordable, they found it lacking in efficiency,
convenience and timeliness. As many as 74 per cent of respondents had used hacks before, although
most of them only occasionally. Users cited affordability and flexibility as major reasons for using
hacks, and as many as 40 per cent of users had never used a regular licensed cab before.
Source: Buckner, 2009
33. Cervero, 1991 and 2000; Cervero and Golub, 2008; Silcock, 1981.
34. For example, the 1990 US Americans with Disabilities Act mandates complementary paratransit service to all
passengers permanently or temporarily unable to get to a point where they could access the public bus system and/or be
expected to navigate it, although this federal mandate is currently unfunded.
35. Cervero, 1991.
36. Buckner, 2009.
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Deike Peters 12 Gender
Informal transit operators provide important, flexible yet often illicit services to poor and
middle-income urban residents in settings where formal services do not exist. They are
market-responsive and hence better suited to women’s complex travel demands. Paratransit
operation is also a gateway to employment for many low-skilled, almost exclusively male
residents and/or recent arrivals. Informal motorized transport can be provided by two-, three-
or four-wheeled vehicles. Since informal services are non-licensed and/or exhibit other
elements of illegality, female customers have no official recourse if passenger ‘skimming’
privileges their male counterparts. Extreme crowding is also a problem in many situations.
Pictures 9 and 10 show some typical IMT situations in Africa. Female drivers of IMTs are
comparatively rare, but, as Picture 11 from Nepal shows, some examples can be found.37
Motorcycles in particular have emerged as a major mode of informal ‘public transit’.
Motorcycle-taxis provide jobs for some tens of thousands of young men in African cities.38
Box 4 describes the gendered behaviour of motorcycle passengers in four Nigerian cities.39
Pictures 12 and 13 show some okada motorcycle taxis in action.
Pictures 9–11. 9. Informal motorized transport in Senegal; 10. Informal motorized transport in Kenya; 11.
Female tuk-tuk driver in Kathmandu, Nepal
Picture sources and ©: ITDP, author, and Sirensongs at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sirensongs/
2296139788/ , respectively.
Pictures 12 and 13. Okada motorcycle taxis passenger loads, Nigeria: Six children and woman with infant
Picture sources and ©: Teseum at http://www.flickr.com/photos/teseum/3533752721/ and Satanoid at
http://www.flickr.com/photos/satanoid/4184454857/.
37. Also see http://thenewdawn.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=25&Itemid=37 for an (undated)
account of one of the supposedly only two female tuk-tuk drivers in Mombasa, a 38-year old mother of three.
38. Godard, 2010.
39. Oyesiku and Odufuwa, 2002.
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Deike Peters 13 Gender
Box 4. Gender differences in using motorcycles as paratransit in Nigerian cities
Global economic recession and the implementation of structural adjustment in the early 1990s led to a
further deterioration of an already crisis-prone transit situation across Nigerian cities. Buses broke
down without spare parts being available, roads remained unpaved and in very poor condition, and
formal services never reached the rapidly growing informal settlements at the urban fringes anyway.
As a result, informal motorcycle and tricycle auto-rickshaw operations, initially perceived only as
temporary gap fillers, have now firmly established themselves as the backbone of Nigeria’s urban
transit system. Flexible yet still too expensive for the poor, they predominantly serve the more
educated, somewhat better-off residents. Of 2781 motorcycle passengers surveyed in a recent study in
four intermediate-sized Nigerian cities, 53 per cent were male and 46 per cent female, and more than
90 per cent had a secondary education. The vast majority (about 85 percent) of riders used the services
four or more times a week, with slightly more women than men doing it on a daily basis. Over 95 per
cent of the women stated that they adjusted their dress accordingly, compared to only 22 per cent of
the men. Differences in group size were even more striking, with 83 per cent of the men being single
passengers compared to only 8 per cent of the women, who frequently travelled with their infants and
toddlers. Motorcycle fatalities are sharply on the rise across all cities in West Africa, exerting a grave
social cost. Not surprisingly, a higher number of females than male passengers were involved in three
or more accidents per year:
The sitting position on the motorcycle that often placed the two legs of the women to the left of the
motorcycle further exposes them directly in the direction of fast moving motor traffic and greater
danger. Sometimes, making bends at roundabouts and junctions simply threw the female passengers
off the motorcycle. … [T]he infants are usually at the back of the women [and toddlers in between].
[O]n several occasions, mother[s] have to attend to any little discomfort arising from exposure to
externalities of urban traffic. In course of doing this, they became unstable and put the life of both the
toddlers … in danger.
Source: Oyesiku and Odufuwa, 2002, pp.13–20, quote from p.17.
4.2. Impacts and challenges
As with all other modes, there is often a strong gender division in paratransit use: men access
motorized modes much more frequently than women, who often rely on cheaper yet slower
non-motorized means. Recent research from Bandung (Indonesia) also revealed strong gender
differences in paratransit users’ willingness to continue to use the mode in the future after
negative experiences, with men citing cost, practicality and accessibility as reasons to
continue use, whereas women were much more concerned with safety than cost.40
A key challenge in developed country environments is that an increasing number of
elderly citizens living in car-dependent environments in developed countries are women, who
become dependent on paratransit when they lose their ability to drive or walk to transit
stops.41 Formally regulated services are not always able to meet this demand.
40. Tarigan et al, 2010.
41. Rosenbloom, 1989 and 2001.
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Deike Peters 14 Gender
5. A Gendered Perspective on Private Motorized Transport
This chapter presents a gendered perspective on private motorized transport, showing that
women generally have inferior access to private motorized transport than men, and
summarizing resulting impacts and challenges. Yet, as with other modes, there are often
greater differences in private motorized transport usage between women in different countries
than between women and men in any given urban setting.
5.1. Trends and conditions
Although clear initial distinctions have to be made, of course, between the situation in
developed countries, where driving is the predominant mode of travel in most settings and
where women drivers constitute a significant share of both car owners and drivers, and the
situation in developing countries, where overall access to private means of transport is much
more limited, the overall trend is the same all over the world: women have inferior access to
private motorized transport than their male counterparts in the same urban or rural setting.
Automobility itself is a deeply gendered affair. As the GTZ ‘Sourcebook on Gender and
Urban Transport’ aptly summarized: ‘Men are typically the first to motorize – co-opting new
technologies first within the household.42 The long-standing association between masculinity
and driving has often presented cultural barriers to women ‘taking the wheel’.43 This holds
true even if women have the legal right to operate a vehicle. Table 1 presents evidence from
the UK’s national travel survey that is representative of many developed countries in Europe
and North America. UK women in their late teens and twenties are less likely to own a license
than women in their thirties and forties. After age fifty, the number of license holders goes
down again. Trips by mode did not vary significantly over time, with about one third of
women driving a car for one third of all their trips, compared to nearly half of all men.
Women remain significantly more likely to travel as car passengers (28 per cent) than men
(17 per cent), however, so while they may have access to a vehicle, women are less likely to
have or exercise primary control over it.44
Table 1. Trips by gender and mode of transport in the UK
Source: Hamilton et al, 2005, p. 23.
42. Kunieda and Gauthier, 2007, p.12.
43. Scharff, 1991.
44. All data summarized from Hamilton et al (2005, pp. 19 and 23).
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Deike Peters 15 Gender
Figure 3. Gendered car use in Germany, 2002 – 2008
Source: By author, using national travel survey data summarized in ADAC, 2010, p. 19.
Gender differences remain even more pronounced in other highly motorized developed
countries. In Germany, for example, even today, driving remains largely a male affair. As
Figure 3 notes, in 2008, all German women together had an average daily automobile usage of
562 million kilometres, which was only about half of that of their male counterparts, who
drove 1.2 billion kilometres. This represented an increase of 9.6 per cent for women, and an
increase of 8.6 per cent for men, compared to 2008. Over the same time frame, the number of
women vehicle license holders increased by 2.9 million from 26.4 to 29.2 million, while
men’s numbers also increased, by 2.6 million, from 29.2 to 30.8 million. As elsewhere,
license ownership was most heavily concentrated in the 30–60 year age group in Germany.
Somewhat surprisingly, female license ownership in the 40–49 and 50–59 age categories even
slightly outnumbered males’ (by 6.8 to 6.2 and 5.1 to 4.9 million, respectively), while males
were in the majority in all other age categories.45
License holding ratios are going up across the developed countries, with licenses now
generally being held by even a majority of the older female population. For example, in 1997,
under 40 per cent of Germans over 65 had a license but 60 per cent of those aged 60–64 did.
This included 80 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women. Whenever access to a car is
constrained by ownership, it is typically a women’s issue. One study from Sweden found that
in 1999, only half as many women between the ages of 64 and 74 had access to a car
compared to their male counterparts.46 The younger drivers get, however, the more balanced
patterns of access tend to become.
Even in the US, an industrialized country where the motorization of the population seems
almost complete, access to motor vehicles has always been and still is gendered, and
additionally compounded by age.47 For example, in the late 1990s, almost 92 per cent of all
men, but only 67 per cent of women over 65 owned a driver’s license. It is expected that by
2012 this ratio will change to comprise almost all men and about nine out of ten women in
that age group in the US. Car manufacturers increasingly recognize women’s needs and tastes
45. ADAC, 2010, pp.17–18.
46. Rosenbloom and Stahl, 2002, p.202.
47. Wachs, 1988; Rosenbloom, 2001.
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Deike Peters 16 Gender
in cars. In 2004, Swedish car maker Volvo came out with a concept car which was designed
by an all-women’s team but marketed to both genders. Their US expert on female consumer
patterns was quoted as saying ‘if you meet the expectations of women, you exceed the
expectations of men.48 Besides aesthetics, women are believed to look for comfort rather than
horsepower. Women tend to be more risk-averse buyers and drivers of automobiles. Women
also comprise an increasingly large share of buyers of (less energy efficient) sports utility
vehicles (SUVs).49 In contexts where women do constitute a substantial portion of overall
vehicle operators, they have been documented to have lower accident rates, although accident
rates are more closely correlated with (young) age than gender.
In less developed countries, travel by individual automobile is a mode of transport
reserved for a small group of high-income earners, so its overall importance as a useful and
accessible mode of transport for women in developing countries, especially those with low
GDPs per capita, is comparatively minor. For example, research in Bamako (Mali) in the mid-
1990s revealed that only 2 per cent of women had access to private cars, and 3 per cent to
motorcycles, compared to 7 per cent and 20 per cent of men, respectively. Another survey in
Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) noted that 79 per cent of car users were men.50
In rapidly developing countries like China, India and Brazil, however, there is now a
rapidly rising class of middle-class women who are becoming car owners and drivers for the
first time. A recent article on women drivers in Moscow, where car ownership functions as an
important status symbol, suggests that the number of female drivers in Russia increased by 50
per cent from 2000 to 2006.51 A recent study examining car purchases at four dealerships in
Mumbai (India) found that with changing gender roles and female partners earning higher
incomes than their partners in an increasing number of cases, traditional male-dominated
gender roles in purchase decisions are in fact changing and that among younger and better
educated households, the wife’s influence is becoming more pronounced.52
Of course, outside that privileged group of rapidly developing countries in Asia and Latin
America, motorization rates for four wheeled automobiles are still overshadowed by
skyrocketing growth rates for motorcycles and three wheelers. As Box 5 and Pictures 14 and
15 demonstrate, they can also play a crucial role in reducing maternal mortality rates. From a
sustainability perspective, electric motorcycles are preferable to gasoline motorcycles from an
emission, energy efficiency and noise perspective, so it is interesting to note that a stated
preference analysis carried out in Taiwan, China, revealed women as the best target market
for them.53
Box 5. Motorbikes and maternal health
Motorbikes can play an especially important role in improving women’s access to health care and in
lowering maternal mortality rates. A recent UNICEF funded initiative donated five eRanger
motorcycle ambulances to Southern Sudan. At a cost of US$6,000 per vehicle these are vastly more
affordable than car ambulances. Maternal mortality ratios in the area are as high as 2,240 deaths per
100,000 live births (compared to Great Britain’s 8 per 100,000) and only 10 percent of all deliveries
are assisted by skilled personnel. eRanger ambulances have also been distributed in Malawi, Kenya
and South Africa. Another programme is the ‘Midwives on Motorbikes’ outreach programme in Timor
48. Adeline Paul, 2005.
49. Adeline Paul, 2005.
50. Pochet et al, 1995; and Kudat et al, 1996; both cited in Peters, 2001.
51. Rodgers, 2006.
52. Srivastava and Anderson, 2010.
53. Chiu and Tzeng, 1999.
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Deike Peters 17 Gender
Leste, funded by Mariestopes, which enables three health care professionals to travel to outlying areas
and raise awareness on sexual and reproductive health issues.
Sources: http://www.eRanger.com, http://www.irinnews.org, http://www.ifrtd.org and http://www.
mariestopes.org/News/Midwives_on_motorbikes.aspx.
Pictures 14–15. 14. Motorcycle ambulance in Southern Sudan. 15. Midwife on motorbike in Timor Leste
Sources and ©: Martell/IRIN at http://www.irinnews.org/PhotoDetailDownload.aspx?ImageId=200903318
and MSI at http://www.mariestopes.org/News/Midwives_on_motorbikes.aspx.
Trends and conditions regarding women drivers can of course be even more strongly
influenced by socio-cultural factors than by income. Saudi Arabia stands out as one country
where women are prohibited from driving cars by law. This has not necessarily kept females
from ‘taking the wheel’, however, as Box 6 demonstrates.
Box 6. Practical necessity trumps legal ban against women drivers in Saudi Arabia
Although there is an official ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, many rural women have in fact
operated vehicles for over thirty years because the lack of public transport facilities makes it a
necessity for them to do so. As one rural woman explains:
My husband died 10 years ago, leaving behind to daughters. I found it very difficult to find suitable
transport for them to and from school. I was not in a position to rely on foreign workers who operate
private taxis. … Then I bought a pickup and started driving. … Later, I started to drive my truck to
shots and stationary stores. Some women from the neighbourhood also began to travel with me.
A male village resident confirms how this is not viewed as strange in these desert towns and how this
is especially important in cases of medical emergencies:
Since my childhood I have seen women driving. They use vehicles for urgent errands. Sometimes, this
has helped save family members who were suffering from serious diseases [because] women [can]
take them to … hospitals that are far away from the village.
This presents good evidence that the Saudi Arabian ban on women driving has sociological rather than
religious motivations. Rural women still encounter bureaucratic difficulties and need the assistance of
their male counterparts in instances where they need to file accident reports or get the vehicle repaired,
but on a day to day basis, they experience no harassment from their fellow villagers whenever they get
behind the wheel. Practical necessity trumps.
Source: Arab News, 2010.
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Deike Peters 18 Gender
5.2. Impacts and challenges
In traditional post-war suburban settings outside of major cities in North America and
Western Europe, female homemakers were often more dependent on private means of
motorization than their working husbands, who often went into central business districts using
mass transit. As women entered the labour force and employment opportunities got further
dispersed geographically, private motorized transport became both a mode of choice and
necessity for both men and women. Distances to shopping malls, schools or recreational
facilities were, and still are, typically not easily accessible by walking, and women end up
spending a substantial portion of their day shuttling themselves, their children and often older
relatives to and from places of leisure and home.54
What is clear, however, is that in developed and transitional country settings access to
private motorized transport is often an essential prerequisite for women’s economic
advancement and for accessing or sustaining jobs.55 And in cases where women are unable to
access private motorized transport, the sustainability implications may be positive from an
environmental perspective, but negative from a perspective of social equity, pointing to the
complex relationship between sustainable mobility and gender.56
From a public policy perspective, it is important to note that certain ‘nudging’ measures
designed to discourage car usage seems to have disproportionately negative effects on
women, whose complex trip-chaining patterns make it more difficult for them to switch from
individual motorized modes to public transit. Parents’ complicated schedules simply do not
easily allow for added wait times and unpredictable delays at transit stops, standing
encumbered by children and grocery supplies, or being hard-pressed to arrive at their
children’s day-care facility in time after a long work day. Challenges are particularly acute for
single salaried mothers.57 Nor could most other mothers easily switch to alternative, more
sustainable individual motorized modes of travel like electric scooters or bicycles, for that
matter.58 Consequently they are also less likely to engage in sustainable mobility practices
such as car pooling due to their trip chaining needs.59 Even in dual income earner households,
where fathers do their share of child drop-off and pick-up, research shows that arrangements
are still informed by traditional gender norms.60 Some researchers thus provocatively
conclude that the currently preferred set of ‘sustainable mobility’ policy proposals including
measures like higher parking fees, congestion pricing, tolls, carbon and gas taxes, all of which
are designed to raise the cost and thusly ration and reduce car usage in favour of more
sustainable modes such as transit, biking and walking, in fact amount to ‘taking a woman’s
money or her time.61
54. How much of this non-work-related ‘soccer mom’-type suburban sports utility vehicles (SUV) driving is by choice and
how much by necessity is subject to debate (Handy et al, 2003).
55. Dobbs, 2005.
56. See Hanson (2010) for a detailed and profound debate of this complex issue. Also see Chapter 9 for additional
discussion of policy implications.
57. Rosenbloom, 1988.
58. Unless a dense, mixed-use urban environment allows for conducting all their daily business within close range, that is.
Berlin, Germany is one example of a high-income country where half of all households live without a car.
59. Rosenbloom at al, 1993.
60. Schwanen, 2007.
61. Schweitzer and Giuliano, 2009.
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Deike Peters 19 Gender
6. A Gendered Perspective on Commercial Goods Transport
The key aim of this chapter is to provide a gendered perspective on commercial goods
transport. Discussions are focused on presenting commercial freight delivery and distribution
as a generally male-dominated sector. Note that the difficulty of gendered access to markets
for individual producers and sellers was already discussed in the chapter on non-motorized
transport.
6.1. Trends and conditions
Commercial goods transport is generally a sector which predominantly employs men and in
which men occupy almost all important decision-making positions. This means, among other
things, that motorized vehicle operators in the area of commercial goods transport are almost
exclusively male, so the business of commercial goods transport is a highly gender
imbalanced work environment. When women do manage to get employment in the trucking
sector, however, they take great pride in their work and consider it well paid, a recent survey
by the American Trucking and the Truckload Carriers Associations shows.62 There are other
strategic opportunities for upping female employment in the commercial goods sector and the
transport sector more generally, highlighted in Chapter 8. Research from as long as 30 years
ago already showed that although US women driving big tractor trailer rigs faced some of the
typical problems women encounter in ‘non-traditional’ occupations yet the researchers’ open-
ended questionnaire revealed ‘that the extent of these tensions [was] less than expected, due
largely to the influence of male support, sponsorship, and protection.63
Figure 4. Female employment by transport sub-sector, EU27, 2001 and 2005 (per cent)
Source: Eurostat, European Labour Force Survey, elaborated by Ikei, in: Corral and Isusi 2007, p.6.
62. David, 2002.
63. Lembright and Reimer, 1982.
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Deike Peters 20 Gender
In general, sex-disaggregated data for employment in (motorized) commercial goods
transport is often hard to come by, and often not available at all in developing countries.
Whenever data is available, the numbers are extremely striking, however. In the EU, women
made up 20.5 per cent of the transport sector workforce in 2005, while women made up 43.5
per cent of all people employed in all sectors. This was only a slight increase from 2001,
when women made up 19.8 per cent of the transport workforce.64 Data for individual
countries varies from a high of 28.2 per cent and 27.1 per cent of female transport workers in
Cyprus and Estonia to a low of 17 per cent in Poland.65 As Figure 4 demonstrates, data varies
even more by sub-sector, ranging from 13 per cent female employment in land transport to
over 30 per cent for supporting activities such as those of travel agencies.66 Table 2 gives
more disaggregated employment data for all transport occupations in Great Britain in 2003,
showing that women make up less than 1 per cent of heavy goods and vehicle drivers, bus and
coach drivers, and all mobile machine drivers and operatives, and only 4–5 per cent of all van,
taxi drivers and chauffeurs. They also only make up only 11 per cent of transport and
distribution managers.
Table 2. Employment in transport occupations in Great Britain (2003)
Source: Hamilton et al, 2005, p. 52
Another trend with regard to commercial transport which has a strong gender dimension
is the spread of HIV/AIDS alongside major trucking routes, especially across the African
continent, with clear repercussions for urban centres. It is truck drivers’ sexual activity in the
cities, towns, villages and truck stops along their routes who transmit the virus and other
sexually transmitted diseases to their various sexual partners and who then bring infections
home to their spouses as well. Truck drivers’ are forced to lead a highly mobile life style
which keeps them away from their families for weeks and months at a time, and a majority
take advantage of the services offered by female sex workers, who are a common feature
along truck stops the world over, and/or strike up casual sexual relationships with girls and
women in locations along the routes they pass. Knowledge about practices helping to prevent
64. Corral and Isusi, 2007, p.4
65. Corral and Isusi, 2007.
66. Corral and Isusi, 2007, p. 6.
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the transmitting of HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases is generally very low, and only
a small minority of drivers regularly uses condoms. Infections rates are staggering. A recent
study by the USAID funded Synergy Project cites research which documents that 19 per cent
of drivers in their multi-country study tested HIV positive (compared to 3 per of the
comparable general population). In Uganda, the rate was 36 per cent to 15 per cent and in
Rwanda, the rate was a staggering 56 percent of drivers compared to 21 per cent of the
general group.67
6.2. Impacts and challenges
Many jobs in commercial goods transport, especially those connected to long-distance
shipping and urban-based door-to-door delivery, require extended and unpredictable working
hours at best and long absences from home at worst, making employment in these sectors
especially difficult for women with family and caretaking responsibilities. And when women
do find employment in the commercial transport industry, they have to adjust to ‘a male-
centred organization of work, workplace culture and working conditions.68
Although men may make up the vast majority of truck drivers, their wives and families
are of course also negatively affected by the unsafe and un-secure working conditions these
men experience. The situation is especially dramatic in developing countries. Box 7 highlights
recent experiences in Rwanda, where drivers’ wives have organized to fight for better rights
recognition of their husbands’ profession.
Box 7. Truck and taxi divers’ wives’ advocacy for their husbands’ rights, Rwanda
The wives of truck and commuter taxi drivers in Rwanda have formed a ‘drivers’ wives association’
(Association des Epouses des Chauffeurs – AEC-Duhuguare) in order to appeal to government
institutions and other stakeholders to provide better protection and insurance to their husbands.
Businessmen give value to their merchandise, but it looks like our husbands are not valued for their
jobs’ spokesperson Mariam Murorunkwere explains. The Minister of Gender Dr. Jeanne d’Arc
Mujawamariya supports the women and has noted that ‘when [the drivers] are not covered for their
job, this affects the whole family and so becomes a handicap to their development.’ Transport investor
Trygoal Sabbas, meanwhile, blames the lack of coordination in the sector. He laments that there are
no constant salaries, no mission fees, no fixed prices, [and] everything is being done through an
informal arrangement between the driver and the boss.’ In his view, ‘the move by the women’s
association was a good step to help them standardize the industry.
Source: The New Times, Africa News Service, 2009.
As for addressing the challenge of preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS among truckers
and their sexual partners, prevention programmes face complex challenges. Stigmatizing male
drivers for being transmitters of a frightful disease triggers backlash, and simplistic
promotions of condom use disregard the cultural and personal circumstances of the women
offering sex to truck drivers in exchange for money or goods. Women who demand that
condoms be used earn less and report being beaten by their boyfriends or customers.69 A
recent initiative in Kenya brought the issue ‘home’ to the urban realm by working with urban
commuter taxi (matatu) owners and operators to paint the vehicles with educative HIV/AIDS
materials and slogans ‘promoting morality’.70
67. The Synergy Project and University of Washington (not dated), online at http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNACW331.
pdf, last accessed 6 January 2011.
68. Corral and Isusi, 2007, p.9.
69. Asthana, 1996.
70. IFRTD, 2004.
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7. A Gendered Perspective on Land-Use and Transport Planning
In its most basic form, integrated land-use and transportation planning simply means ensuring
households’ improved access to jobs and basic services, ideally making them safely and
quickly accessible by walking or other non-motorized means or public transit, thereby
reducing dependence on private motorized means of travel and enabling individuals to travel
shorter distances and make fewer long-distance trips. Given women’s inferior access to faster,
motorized modes and the often severe economic and time constraints women face in the
accomplishment of their daily tasks, integrated land-use and transportation planning naturally
holds particular significance for women, especially when they also belong to additionally
disadvantaged groups like children, the elderly and/or the poor.
This chapter can only provide a glimpse of the most pertinent issues. The key, of course,
is to once again understand transport as a derived demand, and subsequently understand all
movement – and to a large extent modal choice as well – as inextricably linked to the
distribution and physical layout of all land uses, be they of a residential, commercial,
industrial, educational, socio-cultural other recreational nature. The chapter provides some
gendered perspectives on spatial mismatch and the ‘mixed-use’ city and identifies suburbia as
the quintessential urban spatial form reinforcing and persistently cementing unequal gender
relations and travel patterns, especially among higher and middle-income households in
developed, but increasingly in developing countries as well. It also emphasizes shelter-
transport-livelihood link as it relates to the situation of poor women in developing countries.
7.1. Trends and conditions
In developed country settings such as North America and Europe, there is a now a sizeable
literature documenting and explaining gender differences in travel patterns, and especially in
commuting patterns, i.e. journey to work trips.71 This is part of an even larger literature
calling for more gender-aware urban planning.72 In both developing and developed countries,
the root cause and key explanation for the gendered nature of mobility patterns and land use is
of course the gendered, unequal division of household labour, combined with the ongoing
geographic dispersal of human settlements. A recent household time survey in the
Netherlands found that ‘egalitarian role expectations and higher female work status lead to a
more balanced allocation of work and household tasks between spouses [while] more
traditional role views and increased time pressure lead to more specialization and inequality
between the sexes.73 While such ‘egalitarian role expectations’ – that is, household
arrangements where men and women aim to equitably share housework, other reproductive
tasks and child rearing responsibilities – may be comparatively common in developed country
settings, they are still largely non-existent in most developing countries. This then leaves
women with the triple burden of caring for their household’s productive, reproductive and
consumptive needs. At the most extreme end of the scale are women and girls in Sub-Saharan
Africa, who have been shown to be responsible for 90–100 per cent of their households’ water
and fuel collection, well over 50 per cent of the food production and marketing, a significant
share of a variety of other productive tasks as well as 100 per cent of the food processing,
cooking, cleaning, washing, and child rearing and caring.74
Given women’s higher domestic and caretaking responsibilities, they tend to seek
employment opportunities closer to home with more flexible hours than their male
71. Blumen, 1994; Hanson and Johnston, 1985.
72. Fainstein and Servon, 2005; Frank, 2003; Hayden, 2002; Rakodi, 1991; also see literature cited above.
73. Ettema and van der Lippe, 2009.
74. Riverson and Carapetis, 1991, p. 11.
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Deike Peters 23 Gender
counterparts. This translates into a higher sensitivity to distance, and research confirms that in
the event of household relocation, women tend to change their jobs more often than men.
However, it has also been documented that in cases where women remained working in the
same job, many had even longer commuting distances than their male counterparts.75 In the
US, poor women in particular continue to encounter a ‘spatial mismatch’ between the location
of their place of residence, located in less desirable low-income areas near the centre, and
possible places of employment, i.e. low-skilled service sector jobs in suburban areas with
poor transit access.76
This points to the strong gender dimension of the ‘shelter-transport-livelihood link’,
namely the close relationships which exist between women’s place of residence, their ability
to access places of employment, education or basic services and their ability to improve their
livelihoods. The core problem is that places of employment for low-income people are often
located far away from their place of residence.77 Over the last few decades, the profound
gender dimensions of functionally segregated land uses, and in particular the location of low-
density suburban residences in relation to commercial, employment, civic centres and cultural
institutions have been amply documented in a rich body of literature, primarily focused on
North America and Europe.78 Box 8 presents a case study from Sofia (Bulgaria), highlighting
the gendered consequences of rapid suburbanization in a post-socialist setting.
Box 8. Gendered perspectives on life and travel in post-socialist suburban Sofia, Bulgaria
One of the most pervasive and dramatic changes of life in post-socialist cities is that of rapid
suburbanization. Depending on people’s age, sex, social and educational status and income,
households’ move to the suburbs has had very different impacts on their lives, but life adjustments
have arguably been more problematic for women than for men. One important factor to consider is
that in communist Eastern Europe, full employment for women was common, and in Bulgaria, nine
out of ten working age women were employed. Yet although they enjoyed social benefits such as paid
maternity leave they were still left with the full double burden of paid work and unpaid household
labor which men rarely shared. Capitalism did not change this, but it did transform the economic
opportunities and threats households encountered. A key issue is that most families who move to the
suburbs still only own one car, which is typically used by husbands to go to work, leaving women at
the mercy of infrequent and often inconvenient public transit or of the kindness of car-owning
relatives or friends who live nearby. Young mothers feel particularly dependent and ‘stuck,’ and many
women feel curtailed in their ability to maintain friendships and social contacts. While some women
actively embrace their first opportunity to become full time homemakers, others see it as a newly
necessary ‘means for compensating for state failure to guarantee high-quality education and safety for
children.’ or one woman, the challenge of commuting to her urban jobs inspired her to set up a home-
based business in her large home instead. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the gender impacts of
suburbanization are not taken into account in official planning policy. As Bulgarian urban planning
expert Sonia Hirt concludes: ‘In fact, suburbanization is welcomed as a ‘natural’, ‘gender-neutral’
spatial expression of free market forces that are, ostensibly, equally gender neutral. I argue that
gender must become an explicit variable in planning Sofia. Whereas popular wisdom holds that lack
of public investment in mass transit and other public amenities has been hard on ‘everybody’, the
evidence suggests that it may have been harder on women.
Source: Hirt, 2008.
75. Camstra, 1996.
76. Blumenberg, 2004.
77. Wilson, 1987.
78. For a concise overview, see Frank, 2008. Also see Fishman, 1987; Hanson and Pratt, 1995; Hayden, 2002; Marsh,
1980; Seagert, 1980.
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The crucial question in all settings is how accessible places of employment are for both
men and women. For poor women who are dependent on employment opportunities within
walking distance, a central location in the city centre is crucial for maintaining their
livelihood. This is why forced resettlement of poor households from inner-city slum areas to
outlying areas can be so devastating for families. As one study on poor women in Delhi’s
slums (India) aptly summarizes:
‘Within the constraints of their limited mobility and household responsibilities,
women find ways of accessing work near their homes. … An example of this is a
domestic worker [in a Delhi slum]. She walks to work in a nearby affluent colony,
washing and cleaning in the morning. She returns home in the afternoon, takes
care of the children and other household chores, and returns to work in the
evening to wash the after-lunch utensils and organize the dried clothes. Again, she
reaches home well in time to prepare the evening meal for her family. All this she
can manage without spending anything on her personal transportation. If this
slum cluster is relocated to the city outskirts, either this woman will not be able to
work because of the exorbitant costs of transportation and the family will suffer
due to the loss of additional income, or alternatively she will go to work but her
family will suffer because of her absence at home. Therefore, access to work plays
a large role in determining a woman’s ability to balance her productive and
reproductive roles in the household.’79
Such problems would be minimized in more polycentric cities where multiple sub-
centres offer both a wide range of housing and employment opportunities linked by affordable
transit.
7.2. Impacts and challenges
Research shows that ‘gender gaps’ in travel and transport patterns persists even in the most
developed, most egalitarian societies. For example, a recent study in Sweden showed that the
presence of young children reduced the travel activity of women, but there was no such effect
on men.80 A comprehensive survey examining commuting trends for the entire US from 1985
to 2005 concluded that ‘sex continues to play an important role in explaining travel, housing
and labour market dynamics, with major implications for planning practice’ and that
commuting times are still only slowly converging by gender and race.81 In short: women still
exhibit a greater likelihood to trip chain, work closer to home or stay home altogether.82
As a corollary and counterpart to recent policy recommendations for a re-mixing and re-
integration of land uses, researchers in North America and Europe have long identified
functionally segregated suburban environments as a main culprit for the persistent gender
imbalances in travel patterns, and for gendered household divisions of labour more generally.
Many suburban middle-class women (are circumstantially forced to) chose lives as traditional
home-makers and ‘soccer moms’ while those women who are actively seeking employment
often become entrapped in lower-rank service jobs in suburban ‘pink collar ghettos’.83
In developed country contexts, gender equity considerations can also be at odds with new
mainstream ‘green’ transport policies which actively seek to restrict car use even though
79. Anand and Tiwari, 2006, p.64.
80. Gustafson, 2006.
81. Crane, 2007.
82. One must be wary of over-simplistic analyses however, as the most recent detailed analyses in the US now show both a
narrowing and widening of travel differences by gender. See Crane and Takahashi, 2009.
83. England, 1993.
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Deike Peters 25 Gender
existing environmental, social and land-use conditions make it disproportionately harder for
women to forgo the use of automobiles, given that they are still mainly the ones ‘stuck’ with
the more complex, multi-stop journeys across town. Also, as one British researcher recently
noted:
‘Women generally earn less than men, so restrictive parking policies and high
parking fees adversely affect women who are least able to pay, whereas drivers
with company cars (80% male) pass the cost on to their employers. Whilst … 80
per cent of all workers in central areas are female … little would one realize this
from dominant images of the ‘journey to work’ by the male ‘commuter’.84
In the end, this leaves policy makers and planning with two core challenges:
the need for a more equitable re-balancing of household divisions of labour, and
the need to develop transport and land-use policies that are more cognizant of the
shelter-transport-livelihood link and the dire consequences of spatial mismatch,
especially for low-income women.
84. Greed, 2008, p.247.
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8. Policy Responses in Urban Transport
Previous chapters presented extensive evidence of gendered use of urban transport services
and infrastructures, with women typically having inferior access to both. The following
sections will review actual policy responses designed to address these persistent gender
inequalities. When considering such policy responses, it is useful to analytically distinguish
between general ‘mainstreaming’ measures which are aimed at eliminating unequal patterns
of access to transport means, services and destinations on one hand, and policy measures
which explicitly recognize women-specific needs on the other hand. Whereas the core
perspective in the former cases is ‘equality’, the core perspective in the latter cases is
‘[women’s] empowerment’. Together, these two perspectives form the ‘twin tracks’ of gender
mainstreaming (see Figure 5).
Figure 5. ‘Twin-track’ gender mainstreaming
Source: Moser, 2004.
In developed country settings, integrative mainstreaming approaches are generally more
common, whereas interventions and policies in developing countries still mostly focus on an
empowerment perspective identifying specific activities aimed at women. On a theoretical
level, previous ‘women in development’ (WID) perspectives prominent in developing
countries in the past have now been amalgamated into the more encompassing ‘gender and
development’ (GAD) approach, although theoretical debates over ‘correct’ labels and
approaches persist.85
8.1. Gender mainstreaming at the international and national levels
Ever since the 1990s, there has been a burgeoning, rapidly expanding policy literature on the
subject of gender mainstreaming in transport. In particular, major international and national
development institutions such as the World Bank, UNDP, UN-Habitat, SIDA, CIDA, DFID,
GTZ and KfW have produced an increasing stream of research briefs, manuals, toolkits and
85. See, for example, Momsen (2010, pp. 12–14) and Peet and Hartwick (2009, Chapter 7), or, for a concrete reference in a
World Bank gender and transport policy document, Maramba and Bamberger (2001, Chapter 1).
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Deike Peters 27 Gender
other written materials all aimed at improving women’s access and mobility in a variety of
development contexts, generally focusing on the situation of women in less developed
countries. At the same time, many individual countries have launched their own gender in
transport mainstreaming programmes.
8.1.1. The World Bank’s Gender and Transport Resource Guide website
Much of the material accumulated through the efforts of the above listed international
organizations is available for download on the World Bank’s sprawling Gender and Transport
Resource Guide website.86 Transport planners and decision-makers anywhere in the world
should routinely download and integrate the gender-sensitive strategies and training materials
available on this site. It provides a wealth of material documenting both the Bank’s own and
other institutions’ efforts to better integrate gender into transport programmes, projects and
operations. Contents range from academic studies and research notes87 to general gender
mainstreaming manuals and checklists88 to detailed step-by-step ‘how to’ manuals and
toolkits such as ‘good practice notes’ on participatory mapping exercises and sample terms of
references for designing gender-sensitive informal motorized transport and non-motorized
transport components for transport projects.89
International financial institutions have important leverage over urban transport sector
interventions in developing countries, as many states are dependent on external funding for
infrastructure investment. In additional to lending operations, substantial resources are
allocated to analytic and advisory services such as data collection, research or the
development of new methodologies for social assessment. Taken together the body of work
assembled on the site provides an excellent basis for appropriately mainstreaming gender into
urban transport. Some key studies insights are summarized below. A detailed overview of the
full contents of this useful online guide is provided in Annex A to this report.
8.1.2. EU recommendations on gender mainstreaming in transport
There is now also an increasing amount of gender mainstreaming material available in
developed country settings which specifically address issues of transport, access and mobility.
The EU has been actively promoting research and policy responses related to the subject of
gender, transport and mobility, producing several exemplary policy reports over the last few
years which take up the subject matter from a comprehensive, supra-national perspective. The
official policy recommendations made by a high-level EU expert group on gender and
transport in 2006 are listed in Annex C of this report.
8.2. From sex-disaggregated data sets to gender-sensitive stakeholder
consultations
The most obvious solution to better accounting for women’s and men’s gender specific
transport demands and needs is to first record, then analyze and then respond to them.
Improved and fully sex-disaggregated data collection is a necessary first step towards carrying
out full gender analyses. Traditional data on traffic flows and passenger volumes needs to be
meaningfully complemented by household surveys, time use diaries, on transit user surveys
86. http://www4.worldbank.org/afr/ssatp/Resources/HTML/Gender-RG/index.html, last accessed 11 May 2011.
87. The World Bank’s own rationale for gender intervention in transport was summarized in Bamberger and Lebo, 1999.
88. This also includes direct links to valuable related materials such as Kunieda and Gauthier (2007) as well as Asian
Development Bank (2003 and 2005), which makes direct reference to urban transport issues such as women-only transit
services.
89. See, for example, Rankin, 2000; and Peters, 2000.
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Deike Peters 28 Gender
and other socio-economic surveys, and well as interviews, focus group discussions and other
participatory workshops. Researchers need to be gender sensitized and carefully plan their
information gathering strategies in order to reach out to both men and women. Besides a
consistent sex-disaggregation of all data, good, gender-aware practice includes arrangements
to:
record responses from all members of the family, not just (male) heads of households;
record latent demand (i.e. trips not taken due to unavailability of transport);
arrange for interview/focus group/workshop times/days when women can also be
present; and
arrange for both gender-segregated and mixed focus group settings.
Figure 6 presents an overview of the stakeholder consultation process employed in a
World Bank-financed road sector improvement programme in Timor Leste. It is an example
of a best practice stakeholder consultation which held separate focus groups for both men and
women and directly aimed at increasing women’s participation in project implementation.
Figure 6. Toward socially inclusive and gender-responsive transport planning: Stakeholder consultation
for the Timor-Leste Road Sector Improvement Project
Source: Gajewski et al, 2007, p. 14.
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Deike Peters 29 Gender
In addition, modern technology, especially if used in combination with established
participatory planning methods, has great potential to further enhance gender aware transport
planning. In particular, cognitive mapping exercises can now be used in combination with
GIS to help design more locally appropriate and gender-aware infrastructures. Box 9 presents
a recent pilot study from a World Bank transport project in Lesotho. In principle, these
techniques can be employed in a wide variety of both urban and non-urban settings. The pilot
study authors summarize how gender was effectively integrated into transport planning with
the help of these methods:
‘To date, most local-level transport sector studies of mobility and access have
been based on data from individual time and/or activity diaries or household
survey questionnaires covering cost, distance, time, and mode. Although these
methodologies are useful, they are time consuming to implement and often costly.
In addition, they reveal little about local perceptions regarding barriers to
mobility and access (physical, financial, or social) or about how decisions
regarding mobility are made for different members within a household. Failure to
disaggregate data can mask gender and other relevant social dimensions that
subsequently lead to the design of inadequate transport infrastructure and limited
services for vulnerable groups within a population. Recent advances in GIS
technology have allowed for more extensive data analysis on mobility and access,
but the relevant methodologies have not made extensive inroads into how
transport ministries operate or make decisions.’90
Box 9. Using cognitive mapping and geographic information systems (GIS) for gender-sensitive transport
prioritization: Results from a pilot study in Southern Lesotho
All-male and all-female focus groups typically come up with very different sets of transport priorities.
Using cognitive mapping exercises in combination with GIS is an excellent and comparatively cost-
effective way to further enhance transport planners’ ability to tease out such differences and
subsequently integrate gender-specific needs into local transport plans. The examples below, taken
from an innovative World Bank-supported pilot study for the Lesotho Integrated Transport
Programme, the stark differences in the way male and female villagers mapped their surroundings.
Researchers found women’s sketch maps to be ‘less dense with fewer paths and destinations but
longer travel times.’ Men’s focus group maps ‘centred on the main road and track, showing mobility
and access patterns dominated by horse travel to neighbouring fields, villages, and services’ whereas
women’s focus group maps ‘centred on footpaths, showing mobility and access patterns largely
perpendicular to those shown in the men’s maps.’
Participatory sketch maps from men’s and women’s focus groups in Ha Lepekola village:
90. Vajjhala and Walker, 2009 p.2.
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Deike Peters 30 Gender
Men’s and women’s focus group maps of Ha Tumo village:
Source: Vajjhala and Walker, 2009, pp.14–17.
8.3. Gender auditing for urban transport
Gender auditing has been identified by many experts as an essential tool for assessing how
well public and private organizations meet gender mainstreaming goals, and the concept has
been extended to include transport organizations, particularly transport ministries and transit
providers.91 Auditing transport policies, plans or projects for gender-sensitivity is typically
done via the development of specific checklists. The best example of a gender audit initiative
with high-levels of government support is in the UK. The UK Department of Transport’s
updated exemplary gender audit checklist for public transport is reprinted in Annex D to this
report. A 2007 study on ‘women in transit’ summarized the aims and effects of the initiative
as follows:
‘The United Kingdom Department of Transport put research to use by creating a
‘public transport gender audit checklist’ to assist in determining how well a
transit provider or authority meets women’s transportation needs. Prepared by
the Department of Transport Studies at the University of East London, the gender
audit was primarily designed as a management tool to help organizations assess
unmet needs, but it was also used for community groups to measure progress and
for lobbying purposes. Researchers conducted a broad scan of transportation
literature and held focus groups with low-income women around the country “to
identify and explore the factors which affect women’s experience and enjoyment
(or not) of public transport.” Using this data, researchers created the checklist to
help others assess the degree to which transportation effectively serves women.
The mere creation of this audit for the use of government transportation agencies,
service providers and community groups demonstrates the government’s
commitment to making gender a part of transportation planning.’92
91. Hamilton and Jenkins, 2000; Moser, 2004; Turner and Spitzner, 2007.
92. Women’s Foundation of California, 2005, p. 27.
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Deike Peters 31 Gender
8.4. Local policy responses: ‘Women-only’ vs. gender-sensitive solutions
As demonstrated in chapters 2–7, sexual harassment, groping, theft or simply the unpleasant
and often culturally inappropriate experience of being herded into crowded trains or buses
makes the use of public transport infrastructures difficult for women around the world. Many
scholars and activists have pointed out that the influx of women into the workplace is
challenging the traditional separation between public spaces and previously male-dominated
workplace and private spaces and especially the still female-dominated private sphere.
Ensuring women’s safety and comfort by segregating them from men is one possible policy
response for transit agencies and government authorities charged with public safety,
especially in instances where behaviour had gotten particularly aggressive and at times even
violent. Likewise, women-only taxi-services and parking spaces have been introduced to
enhance higher-income women’s safety and comfort. Pictures 16 to 21 present images from
some of the women-only services described below. Sex-segregated policy solutions are
Pictures 16–21. 16. Women-only train Tokyo, Japan (Keio Line). 17. Women-only train Tokyo, Japan (JR
Line). 18. Women-only train, Taipei main station, China. 19. Women-only train in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
20 and 21. ATENA Programme for women-only buses in Mexico
Source: www.rtp.gob.mx/atenea.html.
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Deike Peters 32 Gender
controversial, however, and there are many other ways in which local governments and
transport providers can enhance both women’s and men’s safety, security and comfort in
urban transport and provide more appropriately gender-sensitized infrastructures and services.
The following sections provide an overview of related policy responses in cities around the
world. Overall, it seems that policy makers have a fine line to walk: while insinuations that
women somehow need specially tailored parking places due to their inferior mastery of
vehicles (as evidenced in the case of Heibei, China, below) is no doubt insulting and off-
putting to many, other rationales for considering special parking areas for women are more
real and less offensive: women are more likely than men to travel ‘encumbered’ due to
pregnancy or being accompanied by small children, and they are also be more likely to be
victims of crime in public spaces.
8.4.1. Women-only transit services and parking infrastructures
8.4.1.1. Women-only rail services
So-called ‘ladies’ rail coaches now exist in a fair number of cities and seem slated for
expansion around the world. The first ‘ladies special’ train was introduced on the Mumbai
Suburban Railway as early as 1992. With the rapid entry of women into the urban workforce,
problems of taunting and harassment in public spaces, euphemistically called ‘eve teasing’ in
India, have been on the rise. In India, the number of working women has doubled in the last
15 years, and reports of violence and abuse against women have been on the increase. The
Mumbai programme of operating two women-only trains was never expanded and there were
reports of men breaking into the cars and claiming seats. Then, in 2009, the new female
minister of railways Mamata Banerjee expanded the programme to include eight new
commuter trains in India, now including New Delhi, Chennai and Calcutta in addition to
Mumbai. Women found the new cars are crowded and come equipped with padded benches
and electric fans, something which naturally caused envy and resentment from male
commuters.93
Tokyo (Japan) has boasted women-only commuter cars since 2001. Mexico City and Rio
de Janeiro (Brazil) also have rush hour metro women-only cars, and as of mid-2010 Jakarta
does as well.94 Other examples of women-only rail services include two special trains on the
long-distance railway line from Minsk (Belarus) to Moscow (Russia), instituted in 2005,95
and the specially designated cars on Cairo’s metro (Egypt) which have been operating for a
few years now.96 Another recently instituted service includes the Sentul-Port Klang and the
Rawang Seremban commuter railway routes in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).97 The cars are
usually clearly marked in pink with large signs. The phenomenon is not really a new one in
Japan, however, as special trains for schoolgirls called hana-densha (花電車, lit. ‘flower
train’) had been in operation in Japan early in the 19th century already to keep the girls from
having their ‘beautiful figures looked at and enjoyed’ by men. Such trains also existed in
Osaka until the 1950s but were discontinued in the early 1970s.98 Pictures 16 to 19 show
women-only train services in Japan; Taiwan, China; and Malaysia.
93. Yardley, 2009.
94. Vaswani, 2010.
95. Nechapayka, 2005.
96. Al Sherbini, 2010.
97. David, 2010; Nor Shahid Mohd, 2010.
98. BBC News, 2000.
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Deike Peters 33 Gender
8.4.1.2. Women-only bus services
Women only bus services have also been introduced in a number of cities in the developing
countries, sometimes as a follow-up to train-only services but sometimes independently.
Probably the best known recently introduced service runs in crowded Mexico City, where the
so called ATENEA programme features special buses on several main routes running all day
from 6am to 9pm, so unlike the subway programme, which is only available during rush
hours, this service is also available for off-peak, non-commuting trips. ATENEA’s buses, too,
are labelled with large pink ‘women-only’ signs, and men who stumble onto them have been
known to have been removed by force by the driver.99
8.4.1.3. Women-only taxi services
Another recent phenomenon is the appearance of taxis services especially targeted at and
operated by women. There is thus also a private sector corollary to public transit companies’
increasing trend towards women-only services. A somewhat ill-fated example of such a ‘pink
ladies’ car service made local headlines in Warrington outside of Manchester (UK), where the
two women running the respective private enterprise were confronted with several legal
challenges related to obtaining a taxi license which would allow them to refuse to take men as
passengers, as this would be considered unlawful sex discrimination against men. They tried
operating the service as a ‘members club’, lost the respective court case in 2009 but by then
had found another non-local governmental authority able to provide a different type of
license.
In developing countries women-only cab services cropped up in a large number of cities,
especially in cities with predominantly Muslim populations such as Cairo (Egypt), Damascus
(Syria), Beirut (Lebanon), Dubai (United Arab Emirates) but also including places like Puebla
in Mexico.100 Most also use the signature pink colour and all of them feature women-drivers,
which has naturally caused irritation among some men, especially the male cab drivers who
are unhappy about the new competition. As one anonymous driver put it in a related
newspaper article: ‘I don’t think this is a job that’s appropriate for a lady … [W]e don’t need
to share this profession with women.101 Many of the ‘pink cab’ operations started as recently
as 2009 or 2010 and received wide-ranging attention both the in the regional but also
international press.
8.4.1.4. Women-only and family parking spaces
Although the above listed examples primarily focused on transit services in non-Western
environment, special transport services and designs for women have constituted important
policy responses in all kinds of cultural environments, including Europe and North America.
Long before internet bloggers wrote heated comments in response to the creation of a new
women-only shopping mall car park in China’s Heibei province featuring extra-wide, pink
and light purple spaces in Heibei province to appeal to ‘women’s strong sense of colour and
different sense of distance’,102 US shopping malls had experimented with placing women-
only parking spaces near store entrances.
In Germany, placing well-lit ‘women’s parking sections’ near stairs and elevators has
long been a commonplace strategy to prevent opportunities for rape and assault and improve
99. Llana, 2008.
100. Vo, 2009.
101. Kliger, 2010.
102. BBC News, 2009.
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Deike Peters 34 Gender
women’s safety and security in multi-story parking structures. Previous ‘women-only’ spaces
near store entrances, however, have in many instances been replaced with gender neutral
‘family parking’ spaces, although these signs are still visually biased towards traditional
family models (see Pictures 22–24).
Pictures 22–24. 22. ‘Women-only’ parking in Germany. 23. Parking for ‘expectant mothers’. 24. ’Family-
friendly’ parking in the US
Sources and ©: Jens Schott Knudsen, http://blog.pamhule.com (taken in Flensburg, Germany),
UNECE website, http://www.unece.org/trans/theme_gender.html, Sarah Coggins, http://www.momin
chapelhill.blogspot.com, respectively.
8.4.2. Designing gender-sensitive transit and transport infrastructures
Whereas ‘women-only’ solutions may be appropriate in some contexts, they remain
problematic in that they perpetuate divisions and differences between the sexes rather than
comprehensively addressing the deep rooted gender biases inherent in current transport
planning and policy-making. Designing gender-sensitive transit and transport infrastructures
essentially means changing policy makers and planners mindset so that they think about
sustainable urban transport as a comprehensive challenge involving all aspects of the urban
mobility experience, placing greater emphasis on non-work related travel issues related to
household and care work. In practice, this results in local transport design solutions such as
the following:
barrier-free, protected sidewalks wide enough to accommodate parents travelling with
children;
barrier-free, safe and well-lit public transport stations, stops and vehicles;
locating public toilets (with baby changing stations accessible to all sexes) near
transit;
conveniently locating shopping and day-care facilities near housing and transit;
developing locally appropriate, safe and affordable cycles and carrying devices
designed for carrying children and/or market goods;
providing safe and secure parking facilities for such intermediate means of transport;
and
rethinking transit fare structures to minimize cost for multi-stop journeys;
Actively engaging users into the planning and design process will yield many additional
examples of locally appropriate operational and design solutions.
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Deike Peters 35 Gender
8.4.3. Gender-balanced public signage: re-gendered traffic signs and signals
Men’s and women’s urban mobility experiences are also influenced by the way transport
infrastructures and services ‘speak’ to them. An interesting counter-initiative against typical
gender stereotypes in transport services is the gender mainstreaming initiative Wien sieht
anders (‘Vienna sees differently’) in the Austrian capital, which included a campaign to re-
gender-balance public signage. As a result, women were depicted alongside men as active
participants in urban transport environments. Key examples include female pictograms on
pedestrian crossing signals and on road worker signs (Pictures 25 and 26).
Pictures 25 and 26. Gendered traffic sign and signal in Vienna, Austria
Source and ©: www.wieninternational.at
8.5. Increasing female employment in transport
As evidenced by data presented in the preceding chapters, women all over the world only
make up a small percentage of those employed in key transport occupations. Commercial and
transit vehicle operators, mechanics, engineers, transport professionals as well as distribution
Table 3. Policy initiatives aimed at female employment in transport
Source: EMCC and EFILWC, 2007, p.11.
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Deike Peters 36 Gender
managers are all predominantly male. The goal of increasing and improving working
conditions for transportation companies’ female workforce has been the subject of several
recent policy initiatives in EU countries, eight of which are highlighted in the 2007 report
‘Innovative gender equality measures in the transport industry’ led by the European
Monitoring Centre on Change.103 Table 3 provides an overview of the initiatives. Hiring
female bus operators was also a key component of the TransJakarta Bus Rapid Transit
initiative, which provided Indonesian women with a first opportunity at formal, regularized
employment in the sector.104 Increasing female employment in transport has been recognized
as a key component for mainstreaming gender into the sector.
Box 10 presents another interesting, unusual policy response from Lima (Peru) where the
government decided to combat corruption in the male police force by hiring female officers.
Box 10. The feminization of Peruvian traffic police: Ending corruption by hiring female officers
In the late 1990s Peru started to replace the traditionally all male traffic police officers on the streets of
Lima with female officers. This was mainly intended as a solution to rampart, omnipresent corruption
within the force at the entire national level, as women had shown to be less susceptible to bribes and
corruption. So the main objective was to regain credibility and a more positive image with the public.
By 2000, 1500 sub-official females had entered service to control traffic in the streets. Accompanying
internal changes within the department included both physical arrangements such as adding additional
bathrooms for women in station houses, and other measures such as organizing childcare within the
institution, allowing nursing mothers to arrive an hour later for their shift, and even extending family
planning and counselling services. While corruption could indeed be curbed significantly by this
measure, the female officers nevertheless immediately faced a number of obstacles on the job, facing
often strongly violent reactions from motorists on Lima’s streets. Taxi and bus drivers in Lima
typically have little training, rushing into the business Peru lowered import tariffs on used vehicles,
quickly causing the capital to jam up with aging, unsafe and often unlicensed cabs, vans, and
microbuses called ‘killer combis’. Incidents of road rage are common, pedestrians are run over on a
daily basis, and the Latino machismo culture adds further momentum to a situation where
Eighty percent of the 405 incidents of citizen assault on policy reported [from 2004 to 2006] have
involved the capital’s female officers. Of the 1,031 women, roughly one third have been cursed,
shoved, punched, dragged, run over or taken hostage by angry men. Cabbies and bus drivers are the
worst offenders’.
According to a study done at the National University of San Marcos, ‘more than 40% of [the 491]
public transit drivers interviewed displayed antisocial, even psychopathic tendencies’. Lima recently
renewed its commitment to using female officers to combat corruption on the force, proposing to
eliminate all male officers by 2009, but it seems that women are paying a high price. Mexico tried a
similar programme in the 1990s and reportedly gave it up because of similar instances of violence
against the female officers.
Sources: Salazar, 2006 (including both quotes); Gutierrez, 2003, pp.17–19.
8.6. Impacts of policy responses
The mere existence of gender mainstreaming materials and official international or national
policy documents alone does not mean gender is successfully integrated in the transport
sector. Various reports sponsored by the EU and by organization in individual EU countries
all show that there are still considerable obstacles to be overcome at a variety of levels, even
in advanced developed country settings where significant advances in gender equality have
103. EMCC and EFILWC, 2007.
104. Kunieda and Gauthier, 2007, p.33.
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Deike Peters 37 Gender
been made.105 Even in Sweden, where gender equity has been pursued as a high-level political
goal since the 1990s, research revealed that the practical advances in mainstreaming gender
into transport have been disappointing: transport decision-makers are still predominantly
male, ‘gender equity is not perceived as a relevant goal … there is a lack of basic knowledge
and expertise … no systematic strategy [, and] … a lack of temporal and financial resources
needed to deal with the goal.106
It also seems that the World Bank’s manifold studies and initiatives aimed at better
mainstreaming gender into transport have not made a noticeable difference in the bank’s own
lending practices and typical project outcomes yet. The findings of an externally com-
missioned study synthesizing ten also specially commissioned World Bank gender and
transport case studies were disheartening: they ‘depict efforts to integrate gender into
transport policies, programmes and projects as full of gaps, inconsistencies and mismatches
and concluded that ‘a gender enabling environment found in many of the case study countries
is consistently not translated into practice across the transport sector.’ The report recom-
mended gender auditing to ensure the integration of gender at the meso level and to avoid the
disappearance of gender during implementation. The report also recommended a ‘retrofit’
capability for projects and the allocation of resources to undertake measures such as auditing,
as well as longer term efforts to ‘change institutional processes’ and ‘clearer links between
initial projects plans and actual approved projects … together with the creation of a gender-
aware monitoring and evaluation culture that allows initiatives to learn.107
This demonstrates that even a wealth of sex-disaggregated data and high-quality gender-
sensitive stakeholder consultations do not produce impactful results unless there is a firm
commitment to upholding the results of such consultations at the implementation level.
Monitoring and evaluation via gender audits and checklists is crucial to ensure follow
through.
As for the specific impacts of the various local-level policy responses highlighted above,
some summary observations can be offered. First of all, it is clear that women-only public
transport services have spurred very mixed reactions. The women who use these services like
them, indeed feeling more secure and more relaxed in these special services, which are
typically also cleaner and less crowded. But it is crucial to conduct reliable surveys asking
women their opinions before considering implementation. A survey in Dhaka (Bangladesh)
revealed that about half of all women called for special, women-only bus services, whereas in
another survey conducted at around the same time in Pune (India), only 2 per cent of women
thought women-only buses to be a viable option – despite the popularity of women-only train
carriages in India. Women in Pune simply wanted to see more buses operating and over-
crowding reduced.108
Many transport experts feel that sex-segregated services are a reactive solution at best,
and a failure to deal with a pervasive problem at worst, and most gender equity advocates are
in fact outspoken critics of the ‘pink’ solution, fearing it is a step back rather than forward.
For example, on the occasion of the introduction of pink taxis in Egypt, Nehad Abul Komsan,
Chairwoman of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights commented:
105. Greed, 2005; Hamilton et al, 2005; Polk, 2008.
106. Polk, 2008, p.232.
107. Turner, 2003.
108. Astrop, 1996.
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Deike Peters 38 Gender
‘It means isolation for women. It’s very risky for our society. If it’s an excuse to
solve problems like sexual harassment or other types of violence, it’s a very naïve
solution for a very complicated problem. We need to [have] proper transport or
more security in the street, not isolate women in taxis.’109
Regardless of whether ‘pink’ transit services will expand or contract in cities around the
world the future, it is clear that this can be but a partial solution, and a range of additional
policy measures are needed to enhance women’s safety, security and comfort in transport
environments. Women-only services only account for a very small fraction of all transit
services, and most are only operational during rush hours and on the most crowded lines, so
they present an exceptional solution not available in most urban settings in the world.
One area where the impacts of policy interventions directly aimed at women have been
very clearly demonstrated is in programmes which have helped women access intermediate
means of transport such as bicycles and other load-carrying devices. Box 11 presents the
exemplary case of the AfriBike pilot project which provided low-income women with
bicycles. Increasing women’s safe and affordable access to intermediate transport technology
and eliminating excessive walking and head loading is still one of the most impactful gender-
specific transport interventions available.110 Pictures 27 through 29 show how African women
and girls learned how to ride bicycles under the Afribike program
Box 11. The tangible impacts of teaching women how to ride: ITDP’s AfriBike pilot project
In the late 1990s, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) started the AfriBike
project which brought used bicycles from the US to South Africa made the refurbished bikes available
to women who finished 7-day training course in which they not only learned how to ride but also got
to keep the bicycle after completing the course (which charged an enrolment fee for 50 per cent). One
of the women, a recycled stationary maker, cut her daily commute from 90 to 30 minutes, another her
one way commute from 75 to 30 min. Afribike became its own non-governmental organization and
has since inspired other initiatives outside the country as well as the Shova Kalula (Ride Easy)
National Bicycle Programme which has sought to bring access to low cost bikes to rural and peri-
urban areas of South Africa. Unfortunately, this National Department of Transportation programme
has failed to mainstream gender or focus on women in particular.
Sources: White,1999; Mahapa, 2003.
Pictures 27–29. African women and girls learning to ride bicycles under the Afribike programme
Source and ©: ITDP (Aimee Gauthier).
109. Cited in Kliger, 2010.
110. Forbes, 2010; Howe and Dennis, 1993; Overton, 1996; Peters, 2000; Philpott, 1994.
GRHS 2013: Thematic report
Deike Peters 39 Gender
Last but not least, the impacts of increasing female employment in transport have also
been wholeheartedly positive, both in terms of advancing gender equality in society in general
and in terms of increasing women users level of comfort and security in negotiating transport
situations.
8.7. Challenges for future policy development
Urbanization and economic globalization have profound impacts on overall dynamics of
accessibility and mobility and transport planning and geography need to better account for
increasingly complex settings.111 Gender-sensitive transport planning can be viewed as one
crucial element in the strive to update 20th century methodologies and theories. For much of
the 20th century, transport planning methodologies and policies focused predominantly on the
travel needs of one particular group of individuals, namely the typically male breadwinner on
his journey to and from work. This inappropriately undervalued all off peak, non-commuter
travel and did not account for the fact that especially women typically linked multiple
destinations. There are other important structural changes necessitating adapted
methodologies and practices: a majority of the world’s population now lives in urbanized
areas, and few city-regions today exhibit the simplistic core-periphery land-use model of the
early industrial age in which workers would commute to central business districts in the
morning and back home to the suburbs in the evening. Individuals move about urban areas in
complex ways, with women now accounting for an increasing share of wage-earners world-
wide, with educational facilities for their children not always within easy reach of their
homes, and with non-work related travel often accounting for a majority of daily trips. Both at
the international and at the national levels, the need to pay greater attention to intra-household
interactions and group decision-making in forecasting and planning for transport is therefore
now increasingly recognized.112
In the last half century, gender equity has made great strides in all developed and
transitional countries, with men taking over a much higher percentage of household-related
and child-rearing responsibilities than ever before. As evidence from preceding chapters has
shown, ‘egalitarian role expectations’, i.e. household arrangements where men and women
aim to equitably share housework, other reproductive tasks and child rearing responsibilities,
are common in many developed yet still largely non-existent in most developing country
settings. The existence of more egalitarian role expectations within households is also not a
guarantee against gender-biased outcomes, however. Even in higher-income capitalist
economies, it is becoming increasingly impossible to sustain families on one single income
alone, and in order to do so, spouses need to make new trade-offs which in turn affect men’s
and women’s travel patterns. And as elaborated in Chapter 7, gender roles are in fact reverting
back to more traditional divisions of labour in post-socialist cities like Sofia (Bulgaria)
because new capitalist suburban settings make it more difficult for women to balance
commutes, paid work and household responsibilities than before.113 Cities around the world
are thus not necessarily moving in a uniform direction.
111. David, 2009.
112. Chandra and Ram, 2005.
113. Hirt, 2008.
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Deike Peters 40 Gender
9. Future Policy Directions: Towards Gender-Sensitive Urban
Transport Policies, Plans and Projects
This chapter summarizes key insights from previous chapters and highlights future policy
directions with regard to gender dimensions in sustainable urban transport and mobility.
9.1. Gender and sustainable urban transport and mobility: Evidence and
responses
This background report has presented a thematic study of gender and sustainable urban
transport, focusing on conditions in different human settlements around the world. Following
the introduction in Chapter 1, chapters 2–7 presented comprehensive empirical evidence and
trends documenting the gendered use of different transport modes and the continued
prevalence of highly gendered trip patterns both in developed and developing countries. The
available evidence clearly established that urban transport and land-use systems all over the
world consistently under-value and under-provide services and resources designed to meet the
complex travel needs of multi-tasking individuals who are managing households, working in
and engaging with their local communities, taking care of children and other relatives while
often working one or more wage-earning jobs at the same time. The vast majority of these
individuals are female, of course, and most of them are further disadvantaged in the
accomplishment of their complex tasks by patriarchal household and social structures in
which men typically first appropriate the fastest and most expensive available transport
technologies for themselves. The need for specific policy responses and interventions targeted
at women thus stems from fundamental gender inequities related to men’s and women’s (as
well as boys’ and girls’) different roles in society. In many developing country contexts,
female’s complex duties include the very time-consuming and physically straining collection
of water, firewood and other fuel. Time poverty thus emerges as a fundamental problem
constraining women’s and girls’ movements (as well as their educational prospects) and
hence needs to be addressed as a root cause for unequal mobility patterns.114 In addition,
social and cultural practices and fear of sexual harassment or violence often constrain
females’ mobility and their independent use of public and intermediate means of transport.
Chapter 8 provided a comprehensive review of actual policy responses across the globe,
showing that while great strides have been made in developing gender-appropriate transport
policies, programmes, plans, and local design solutions, consistent implementation of the
respective solutions is still widely lacking. Moving towards greater equity in urban transport
is an essential prerequisite for achieving full sustainability in the sector. This concluding
chapter re-emphasizes and highlights key issues for future policy directions and points to key
resources available.
9.2. Revisiting the transport and gender dimensions of the Millennium
Development Goals
Gender differences in mobility patters are decidedly more pronounced – and subsequently
more problematic and more consequential – for women and girls in less developed countries.
As Chapter 2 highlighted, in many instances, poor women and girls become ‘beasts of
burden’ with no or very limited access to any means of transport, carrying heavy loads, fuel,
114. Blackden and Wodon, 2006 ; Turner and Grieco, 2000.
GRHS 2013: Thematic report
Deike Peters 41 Gender
firewood or water to the point of causing physical exhaustion and permanent strain injuries.115
As emphasized in Table 4, the reduction of maternal mortality rates, one of the key
Millennium Development Goals, continues to be seriously hampered by poor women’s
inability to quickly and safely access medical facilities at the time of delivery. This calls for
immediate policy intervention on a number of fronts. Gender equity is an essential dimension
of sustainable transport.
Table 4. The transport and gender dimensions of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)
MDG Transport and gender dimension
MDG 2 Universal Primary
Education. Ensure that, by
2015, children everywhere, boys
and girls alike, will be able to
complete a full course of
primary schooling.
Girl’s lack of time for school and studying as they must help their
mothers transport water, fuel and food. This leads to loss of
opportunity or motivation to study. Girls face more gender related
problems such as abduction and rape on their way to school. Lack
of transport means for teachers and education officials affects both
genders, through teacher absenteeism, lack of education quality
support and monitoring.
MDG 3 Gender Equality.
Eliminate gender disparity in
primary and secondary
education, preferably by 2005,
and to all levels of education no
later than 2015.
Girl’s lack of time for school and studying as they must help their
mothers transport water, fuel and food. This leads to loss of
opportunity or motivation to study. The lack of public transport
inhibits opportunity for both boys and girls to go to secondary
school.
MDG 4 Child Health. Reduce
by two thirds, between 1990 and
2015, the under-five mortality
rate.
Preference for boy infant over girl infant because of parental
discrimination and neglect. For example, girls may not receive
adequate nutrition or be taken to the clinic as frequently as their
boy siblings. Girl infants are trained to help mothers from very
early age. Lack of emergency transport for children’s health
emergencies. Lack of transport for health equipment and
medicines at the health post leading to poor quality of health
service. Constraints on access of health post users due to distance,
cost, difficulty of travel due to terrain and weather, path
conditions.
MDG 5 Maternal Mortality.
Reduce by three quarters,
between 1990 and 2015, the
maternal mortality ratio.
High death rate for mothers and preventable injuries partially due
to delay of decision to transport and lack of transport in cases of
emergency especially at childbirth.
MDG 6 HIV/AIDS, malaria
and other diseases. To halt and
begin to reverse the spread of
HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other
major diseases
Transport sector workers such as long-distance drivers (mostly
men), seafarers are seen to spread HIV/AIDS along road corridors
and ports. Female sex workers, roadside community women with
little control over reproductive health are most affected, not only
by the virus but also through the extra burden of care for
HIV/AIDS patients and orphans.
Source: Riverson et al, 2006, p. 12.
115. Peters, 1998.
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Deike Peters 42 Gender
9.3. The ‘9 Ps’ of gender-sensitive urban transport planning and additional
resources
As noted previously, the most comprehensive one-stop resource on gender mainstreaming in
transport is the World Bank’s ‘Gender and Transport Resource Guide’ hosted by the Bank’s
Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Policy Programme.116 Originally mainly aimed at addressing
rural African women’s access and mobility issues, the site has since grown much beyond this
aim and has wide applicability for both rural and urban settings all over the world. Box 12
presents a key bibliography of the most important of the now numerous and readily
downloadable gender mainstreaming reports, manuals, toolkits with direct relevance to urban
transport. Much of what is elaborated in these documents can be boiled to a handful of key
recommendations, however. Box 13 therefore presents the ‘9 Ps of gender-sensitive urban
transport planning,’ a useful ‘mini-toolkit’ which transport decision makers should repeatedly
consult before, during and after project planning and implementation.117 Moreover, Annexes
A-D in this report provide additional resources for successful gender mainstreaming in
transport, including key policy recommendations from several international high-level
conferences and workshops and the exemplary gender audit checklist recently prepared for
the UK Department of Transport.
Box 12. Key resources for mainstreaming gender into urban transport on the web
‘The World Bank Gender and Transport Resource Guide’, http://www4.worldbank.org/afr/
ssatp/Resources/HTML/Gender-RG/index.html [Contains hundreds of pages of material, tool kits,
case studies, reports and other many resources].
Riverson, J., M. Kunieda P. Roberts, N. Lewi and W. Walker (2006) The Challenges in Addressing
Gender Dimensions of Transport in Developing Countries: Lessons from World Bank Projects;
Paper presented at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Washington, DC,
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTTSR/Resources/462613-1152683444211/06-0592.pdf.
Hamilton, K. (2001) Gender and Transport in Developed Countries and Peters, D. (2001). Gender
and Transport in Less Developed Countries, Background papers for the Expert Workshop ‘Gender
Perspectives for Earth Summit 2002: Energy, Transport and Decision-Making’. German Federal
Ministry for the Environment (BMU) and Boell Foundation, Berlin, http://www.earthsummit2002.
org/workshop/bpapers.html.
Hamilton, K., L. Jenkins, F. Hodgson, and J. Turner (2005) ‘Promoting gender equality in
transport’, UK Equal Opportunities Commission Working Paper Series, Vol. 34, UK Equal
Opportunities Commission, http://www4.worldbank.org/afr/ssatp/Resources/HTML/GenderRG/
Source%20%20documents/Technical%20Reports/Gender%20and%20Transport/TEGT2%20Prom
oting%20gender%20equality%20in%20transport%20UK%202005.pdf.
Kunieda, M A. Gauthier (2007) Gender and Urban Transport. Module 7a, Sustainable Transport:
A Sourcebook for Policy Makers in Developing Cities, GTZ, Eschborn, http://www.itdp.org/
documents/7aGenderUT%28Sept%29300.pdf.
116. See http://www4.worldbank.org/afr/ssatp/Resources/HTML/Gender-RG/index.html, last accessed 11 May 2011.
117. The headings for this mini toolkit were taken from Greed (2008), for the long version see Reeves (2003).
GRHS 2013: Thematic report
Deike Peters 43 Gender
Box 13. The ‘9 Ps’ of gender-sensitive urban transport planning and policy making
Preliminaries: What supportive initiatives, resources and possibilities exist already?
Specifics: Review pre-existing international and national gender mainstreaming policies and/or any
additional locally specific mandates. Reach out to national or local advocacy organizations which can
support gender-integration into the process.
Planners: Who is doing the planning? Who are perceived to be the planned?
Specifics: Make sure the planning team has female decision-makers on staff. Integrate a Gender
Impact Assessment into early stages of the process. Make sure planners pay attention to the complex
constraints that women’s (or men’s) multiple roles as wage earners, caretakers and community
workers place on their trip-making behaviour. Do not over-emphasize the needs of (male) commuters
who are making simple journeys to and from work.
Populations: How are statistics gathered and who do they include?
Specifics: Make sure pedestrians are included as a key transport user category in all statistics. Make
sure all data is collected in a gender/sex-disaggregated manner. Ensure that complex trip-chains are
properly reflected in the statistics. Employ participatory methods, gender-sensitive surveys and focus
groups in the manner specified below.
Priorities: What are the values, priorities and objectives of the plan?
Specifics: Again, make sure all non-motorized movement is included and recognized in the plan.
Make sure gender-disaggregated data is not only collected but also properly analyzed and integrated
into the plan-making process. Focus on access, not mobility. Consider household travel patterns as
intra-linked. Make sure transport and land-use patterns are understood as intimately linked. Pay
greater attention to non-commute trips and complex trip chaining patterns required to navigate
between places of residence, work, education, social services and leisure.
Participation: Who is consulted and who is involved in participation?
Specifics: For household surveys, make sure interviews do not simply consult male heads of
households but include all household members. Come to the home when women are likely to be
present. Factor in cultural or religious factors, e.g. by sending female interviewers in contexts where
contact with male strangers is not tolerated inside or outside a home. Complement surveys with
gender-sensitive and gender-focused stakeholder consultations. Document results in a gender-
disaggregated manner. Find ways to document latent, unmet travel demand among sedentary
household members.
Piloting: How is the policy evaluated? Are discussion groups used? How are they selected?
Specifics: Make sure women and men with diverse age, socio-economic, ethnic backgrounds are
selected to comment on the programme/policy. Document results in a disaggregated manner. Reach
out widely into community.
Programme: How is the policy or the project implemented, monitored and managed?
Specifics: Ensure that implementing individuals are sensitive to gender issues. Allocate budget
resources to monitoring and evaluation. Allocate budget resources to Gender Audits.
Performance: Who benefits? Who loses out? What side effects are there?
Specifics: Ensure that concerns from Gender Impacts Assessments are being continually addressed.
Focus on system flexibility, affordability, comfort rather than a simplistic preoccupation with single-
journey time savings. Trace who bears the burden of increased costs or time costs. Consider the
gendered effects of service cuts (especially for off-peak travel in outlying areas).
Proofing: Is gender incorporated into each policy? Does it make sense?
Specifics: Develop programme or project specific benchmarks. Re-evaluate gender-specific
assessments and performance expectations over the life course of the project.
Source: Greed (2008, pp.250–251), after Reeves and Greed (2003), added examples are author’s own.
GRHS 2013: Thematic report
Deike Peters 44 Gender
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Deike Peters 45 Gender
9.4. Concluding remarks
By successfully addressing the gender and transport challenge, all individuals within a given
household will benefit, and human settlements will move towards more equitable, efficient
and more sustainable transport and land-use settings overall. The theoretical tools to achieve
gender equity in transport are now within easy reach of any committed decision-maker, but
the practical, cultural and institutional hurdles to implementation have frequently proved to be
frustrating to many who have attempted to bring greater gender-awareness into transport
politicians’, planners’ and engineers’ established practices and ways of thinking. Moreover,
other individual characteristics such as ethnicity and income are powerful additional
determinants of transport use.118 A great deal of political will is still needed to overcome
institutional challenges, really ‘give women voice’ in urban transport and to bring full gender
equity into transport systems.
118. Kunieda and Gauthier, 2007, p.7.
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Annex A. Overview of the World Bank Gender and Transport
Resource Guide
(http://www4.worldbank.org/afr/ssatp/Resources/HTML/Gender-RG/)
Module 1: Why gender and transport?
Provides the rationale for addressing gender issues in rural and urban transport policies,
programs and projects.
Photos and bullet points make the case based on time use analysis, case studies, and
multi-sectoral synergies.
Demonstrates interface between gender, transport and poverty, HIV/AIDS, maternal
mortality, and access to education.
Shows how gender-integrated transport programs can contribute to achieving the
Millennium Development Goals.
PowerPoint version is available in Module 6 for use in gender and transport
workshops, briefings, conferences or gender sensitization sessions.
Links to brief source documents that provide more details on these issues.
Module 2: Challenges for mainstreaming gender in transport
Highlights key gender-related constraints in travel and transport that need to be addressed in
transport policies, strategies, programs and projects.
Notes misperceptions about gender and transport.
Examines women and girls’ time poverty worldwide.
Looks at key constraints on women and girls’ travel, access to transport and
employment in transport.
Considers the social and economic costs of limited access for women and girls.
Notes transport issues of the youth and the elderly.
Highlights gender-related issues for resettlement.
Links to in-depth source documents for more information.
A PowerPoint version of this module is available (in Module 6) for use in workshops,
briefings and conferences.
Module 3: Promising approaches for mainstreaming gender in transport
Presents effective, field-tested project, program and policy interventions.
Illustrative examples of mainstreaming gender in projects drawn from World Bank,
IFRTD, CIDA, DFID and other programs.
Gender informed transport planning.
Gender-responsive informal motorized transports and other means of saving labour.
Women’s employment in road works.
Mobilization and advocacy.
GRHS 2013: Thematic report
Deike Peters 54 Gender
Engendering organizational structures.
Mainstreaming gender in transport policy.
Multi-sectoral approaches.
Empowerment through information communication technology (ICT).
A PowerPoint version of this module is available (in Module 6) for use in workshops,
briefings and conferences.
Module 4: The Gender and Rural Transport Initiative (GRTI)
Describes the evolution of GRTI in the context of the Sub-Saharan Africa Transport
Policy Program.
Presents the objectives of GRTI.
Summarizes the approaches of GRTI.
Highlights key components of GRTI.
Highlights key points of reports on 16 country activities.
Features promising practices and key findings in reports.
Summarizes recommendations for next steps needed.
Can be adapted and used as material for slide presentations in workshops, briefings
and conferences.
Provides further links.
Module 5: Tools for mainstreaming gender in transport