Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources

ITF work on Gender in Transport

Transport plays an important role in providing access to opportunities for citizens. Good mobility policies aim to bring education and health care, jobs and leisure activities within reach of as many people as possible. Ultimately, universal access is essential to foster societies that leave no one behind and enable all citizens to participate and contribute. Promoting transport policies that take gender into account is critical to reaching universal access.

Women make up half of the world's population, yet are often limited in their use of transport by policies and services that are not gender-neutral and biased against them. Rich evidence shows that gender is a significant determinant of the choice of transport modes. Women’s travel patterns are more complex than men's, with more, mostly short trips, using different services, at differing times of the day, often involving children. Thus, transport solutions that suit men - who tend to make few direct trips at set times and often alone - do not necessarily work for female transport users.

Transport safety and security are also gender-specific issues. Safety concerns shape women’s transport behaviour across all transport modes more than that of men. Safety is the top priority for women as a condition for using public transport. Surveys show that a large majority of women worldwide feel unsafe in public transport and that many have been victims of physical or verbal harassment when using it or moving in public spaces. Women, therefore, often prefer driving, where available, over walking, cycling or public transport due to safety reasons. When driving, women are far less likely to become victims of road crashes than men. Three times as many men as women die in road traffic; in some countries, 80% of victims are male. This is the largest gender difference in deaths caused by unintentional injuries.

In the transport workforce, women are dramatically underrepresented. Only 22% of transport employees in the European Union are female. In the Asia-Pacific region, women typically have fewer than 20% of all transport jobs. Women are particularly rare in senior roles in the transport, logistics and infrastructure sectors. In the United States, for example, only 14% of these roles are filled by women. As a result, gender perspectives are less likely to be considered in decision-making. To cope with projected shortages of qualified staff and better respond to women's specific needs as users, the transport sector will need to attract, retain and train women at all levels.

The gender dimension of transport is a rich field for scientific investigation and policy improvement. Addressing gender issues in transport will benefit not only women but all transport users by encouraging a user-centric approach to provide high levels of accessibility. The ITF is strongly engaged in this issue, working with partners in governments, international organisations, academia and the private sector.



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