Advancing gender equality in the transport sector

The transport sector plays a key role in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #11 regarding making cities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Often overlooked, however, are gender issues associated with transport and land use. Moreover, women’s actual participation in transport planning processes is limited. There are very few change champions in senior level positions within the transport industry. In this regard, there have been increasing efforts to address gender and transport concerns.

Melbourne School of Design researcher Dr Iderlina Mateo-Babiano is working towards correcting this imbalance. The Women in Transport Leadership network (WiTL) is one such initiative. WiTL is the first Australasian knowledge network that aims to empower women and develop a critical mass of female transport leaders in the region.

“In many parts of the world, including Asia, women continue to have poor access to urban opportunities and limited participation in transport-related careers. Women also remain under-represented in transport decision-making” explains Mateo-Babiano.

Women face diverse access and mobility challenges. This is often brought about by the multiple roles women play as carers of children and the elderly, income earners, homemakers and managers of community networks.

“Sidelining women’s distinct travel needs and requirements creates social and economic disadvantages for communities”, says Mateo-Babiano, “having women in transport leadership roles is crucial to championing the issues primarily affecting women commuters and ensuring they are adequately addressed.”

On July 5, 2017, the WiTL network convened an international roundtable as part of its continuing efforts to understand gender and transport issues. This event was among the key sessions at the World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research (WSTLUR) 2017.

The roundtable facilitated discussion of gender and transport issues that hinder the way towards making cities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. It particularly aimed to deepen the understanding of issues concerning gender, transport, land use and women in transport leadership. It served as a space for showcasing stories about women’s journeys – with emphasis on the barriers and facilitators in transport. Fourteen transport and gender academics, researchers, and practitioners took part in the three-hour discussion. They shared insights and experiences in working on issues in India, the Philippines, Australia, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Ukraine, the United States of America, and Sweden.

On September 17, the WiTL network will host an Early Career Researchers’ Forum as part of the 12th International Conference of Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS) to be held in Ho Chi Minh City. The forum proudly welcomes key transportation experts who will serve as mentors to 24 promising researchers and students from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The forum is a joint initiative by EASTS-Vietnam and WiTL, funded by the Australia-ASEAN Council and EASTS.

Given the imbalance in female representation in the transportation sector, the forum aims to serve as a platform to share ideas and exchange practical advice about learning and researching in higher education, discuss opportunities and challenges for future professional development, particularly in increasing female leaders in transport, and establish networks and linkages between researchers and academia in the region, building knowledge and advancing visibility around the topic of gender and transport, with a focus on the Asia Pacific region.

Find out more about Dr Iderlina Mateo-Babiano’s research, or contact her, here.