Transport systems are the backbone of our societies: they give us access to education, health services, economic opportunities and political and social participation. Without these systems, the quality of our lives would decrease drastically.
And yet, for many women and girls around the world, using our transport systems means increasing the risk of injuries, harassment, violence and even death.
In general, women use public transport more than men despite the unsafe feeling and risk of receiving unwanted attention, harassment or assault. Due to the nature of their employment, they also often travel at off-peak hours with fewer passengers, which only increases their vulnerability. In order to protect themselves, they travel in groups, choose more expensive options of private mobility (if they have the resources), change routes and times are do not travel at all. All of these forced decisions only intensify the existing inequalities and reinforce gender stereotypes and social exclusion. And sadly, this issue is visible in all parts of our world. In Latin America, 60% of the women experience physical harassment in public transport and in France, the statistics are even worse. There, every women will experience harassment in public transport at least once. A study from Delhi revealed that 95% of women’s mobility is restricted due to fear of aggression.
Not only in public transport do women experience more risks. Women are 47% more likely to be injured in a crash than men, and 20 to 28% more likely to die. Shocking numbers, because hypothetically, road mortality rates across the EU would drop 20% if all road users drove like women. The fact that in Europe, women are more likely to be killed as a car passenger or pedestrian than as a car driver or motorcyclists supports this theory. One of the reasons why women have a higher chance to be seriously injured or killed in a car is the lack of adapted vehicle safety technologies. These technologies are still often designed and tested for male bodies, and therefore do not protect women as effectively.
Everyone, both men and women, should be able to use all types of transport methods while knowing that they are protected and safe. More research and campaigns are needed to tackle gender-based violence and to create inclusive mobility systems. The European Road Safety Charter encourages all kinds of activities, events and good practices that help to reach these goals.