In spite of the increased cases of sexual harassment and assault cases of women and girls in public spaces, urban and transportation planning processes are still not paying any attention to gender. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day—Be Bold For Change, should enthuse urban and transportation planning to recognize gender equity as an integral part of sustainable cities.
Unsafe and uncomfortable public transportation systems always coerce women to use private modes of transport. This is caused by the failure of urban local bodies to collect gender inclusive data while preparing their city mobility plans, thus they remain blind to women’s mobility patterns and needs.
Today, the concerns of women’s safety are summarized under public spaces. For instance, the sustainable development goal on gender seeks to “eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres”. In spite of this it is important to recognize that women and girls are still victims of violence in transportation systems—when walking and cycling or accessing public transport stops/terminals, waiting at the bus stops, terminals and railway stations, boarding and alighting buses or trains and travelling in these vehicles.
Thus the need to ensure that women’s safety concerns are considered and integrated by urban transport authorities during the planning and design of our transit systems, our streets, bus stops, railway stations, terminals, buses and trains, and existing initiatives are monitored and evaluated.
In addition it is crucial for women led organizations and urban transport planners to work together to address the physical and social aspects of gender in city planning and transportation systems.
Women are more in public spaces only as commuters but not as service providers. According to a report by the International Labour Organization, transport is one of several sectors that have traditionally been regarded as ‘no place for women’. In 2005, 6.85% women were employed in the transportation sector in India compared to 19% men. Such disparities are evident across many countries; increased women presence at different levels in public transport authorities has the potential of mainstreaming gender within the organization, since this will ensure women’s issues are brought to the forefront during service delivery and infrastructure development.
It is in this regard that Flone Initiative is implementing the Women In Transportation Program (WIT) which seeks to close the work force gap in the transportation industry by promoting life long careers in transportation for women. The WIT program hopes to ultimately works to attract, retain and advance women in the industry by proving a forum for the exploration of technical, policy, financial, and political aspects of emerging transportation issues while affording women in the transport industry outstanding networking opportunities.
This International Women’s Day, being bold will entail recognizing women’s role in achieving sustainable transportation goals and reducing work force gaps, so that women concerns are not ignored nor treated as special cases, but as vital part of city transportation design, planning and governance.
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