Photo: Carol Mitchell | Flickr Creative Commons
As the backbone of development, infrastructure provides vital support for the twin goals of poverty reduction and shared prosperity. Considering the different needs, roles, and responsibilities of men and women in infrastructure design makes the achievement of these goals more sustainable.
Women and men face constraints both as beneficiaries and producers of infrastructure services. For example, there can be inequitable access to roads, financing for electricity connections, or clean water. There are also inequities in the infrastructure business value chain: Do utilities have a balance of women and men on technical and leadership teams? Is there diversity on boards, with regulators or policy makers? Are women-owned firms in supply chains?
Transport is not gender-neutral. This was the key message that came out of a high-level gender discussion co-hosted by the World Bank and the World Resources Institute during the recent Transforming Transportation 2018 conference, which was held in Washington DC between January 11-12, 2018. This was the first time in the 15-year history of this annual event that a plenary session looked specifically at the gender dimensions of transport.
Women represent the largest share of public transport users around the world, yet they face many barriers that limit their mobility. The numbers speak for themselves. Some 80% of women are afraid of being harassed while using public transport. In developing countries, safety concerns and limited access to transport reducing the probability of women participating in the labor market by 16.5%, with serious consequences on the economy: the global GDP could grow by an additional $5.8 trillion if the gender gap in male and female labor force participation is decreased by 25% by 2025 (International Labour Organization). Women and men have different mobility needs and patterns, yet transport policies for most countries remain unrelentingly gender-blind.
Female participation in the transport sector—as operators, drivers, engineers, and leaders—remains low. According to Harvard Business Review, “women make up 20% of engineering graduates, but nearly 40% of them either quit or never enter the profession.” As a result, the transport industry remains heavily male-dominated, which only makes it harder for women service users to make themselves heard, and limits incentives for the sector to become more inclusive.
The gender plenary at Transforming Transportation brought together five women and two men on the panel to discuss these issues and highlight practical solutions used in their work to ensure inclusive transport.
- women's empowerment
- gender equality
- inclusive growth
- Social Inclusion
- public transport
- urban transport
- violence against women and girls
- Gender-Based Violence
- Gender Inclusion
- Transforming Transportation
- sustainable mobility
- Sustainable Communities
- Urban Development
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Labor and Social Protection
- Social Development
- United Kingdom
The World Bank is developing a global standard for measuring countries’ inclusion of LGBTI individuals.
They laughed in our faces … but then we showed them the data
By the early 1990s, Dr. Mary Ellsberg had spent years working with women’s health in Nicaragua. Armed with anecdotes of violence against women, she joined a local women’s organization to advance a bill criminalizing domestic violence.
When presented with the bill, lawmakers “pretty much laughed in our faces,” she explained in a 2015 TEDx talk. “They said no one would pay attention to this issue unless we got some ‘hard numbers’ to show that domestic violence was a problem.”
Dr. Ellsberg went back to school and wrote her doctoral dissertation on violence against women. Her study showed that 52% of Nicaraguan women had experienced physical or sexual abuse by an intimate partner. Subsequently, the Nicaraguan parliament unanimously passed the domestic violence bill.
Later, the World Health Organization used Dr. Ellsberg’s indicators to measure violence against women in countries across the world, which showed the global magnitude of the problem.
“One out of three women will experience physical or sexual abuse by her partner,” Dr. Ellsberg said. Because of the data, “violence against women is at the very top of the human rights agenda.”
Dr. Ellsberg knew that domestic violence was a problem, but it was data that prompted leaders to combat the issue.
Similarly, there are plenty of documented cases of discrimination and abuse against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people. But what’s the magnitude of the discrimination?