Putting the gender issue front and forward when it comes to road safety and sustainable mobility

Active Travel and Healthy Streets

Yesterday our EASST partners voted unanimously to support gender parity and equal opportunities in all their road safety projects.

There is an underlying assumption that motorised transport is gender neutral and available to all. However, we would argue that this is simply not the case. For example, many women feel that public transport is not safe, and evidence would show that if given the choice, women would immediately opt to travel by private car than by public transport due to the extent of their safety concerns[1]. Ultimately, this means empty public transport vehicles, more traffic, and less safe roads.

When gender is raised in relation to road safety, it is usually to point out that men are most at risk. Indeed, as World Health Organisation data suggests, 73% of all road fatalities globally are young males aged under 25. Our view, however, is that this perspective should be turned on its head.

It is no secret that the transport sector is dominated by male decision-makers but if roads, living spaces and transport choices were designed by and to meet the needs of women, there would be far fewer casualties altogether. Moreover, if we consider the needs of women – others will benefit such as children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Since EASST was established we have been building the capacity of female leaders in road safety across the region, and many of our female colleagues are now global experts in the field. Our mission now is to build on this and encourage fresh thinking when it comes to who should be the priority in road designs and transport. To achieve this we have produced a Gender Parity and Equal Opportunities Policy setting out our aims in terms of gender parity and how we intend to take action.

The primary objective of this policy is to build knowledge and develop an evidence-base on the issue of gender in transport as a means of advocating for a change in the transport paradigm. We are delighted that all our EASST partners have committed to supporting this policy through the delivery of gender responsive programmes and projects and signing up to our Minsk Gender Declaration, which states that:

“We as EASST partners are committed to maintaining an institutional culture that ensures gender parity and equal opportunities in all our work as well as leading in the delivery of gender-responsive programmes to benefit all people.”

Evidence from around the globe has shown that that pedestrian-friendly, female friendly cities are good for tourism, good for local businesses, better for public health and can have a positive impact on local communities and employment. Through our Gender Policy and this week’s declaration we hope to see this become a reality in our EASST countries of operation in the near future.

[1] Ella se mueve segura – She moves safely, report by the FIA Foundation and CAF – Latin American Development Bank.