Gender equality and safe and secure mobility - SDG 5 Policy briefing

Safe mobility

Road safety, gender, and mobility systems are in the spotlight of scholarly pursuits and policy agendas that promote sustainable and inclusive cities worldwide. At the Habitat III Conference held in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016, governments established a new urban agenda (NUA) including overarching objectives to make cities more accessible and inclusive.

In many cities around the world, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, the road infrastructure and connectivity of mobility options does not consider the specific needs of women and girls. Instead, transport systems are built upon and reinforce structural inequalities that limit women’s visibility and access to public spaces.

In reality, this means women and girls are trying to navigate transport systems not built for them, which are not easily accessible, safe or secure. Although men are more at risk of dying in road traffic crashes globally, women are more likely to be killed as vulnerable road users due to high vehicle speeds and poor allocation of public space to walk or cycle. Women are the majority users of public transport worldwide, and they can often be at risk of sexual harassment whilst using public transport. This hinders their access to mobility options and hence, impacts their quality of life.

This paper seeks to highlight how lack of road safety and safe mobility is a gender equality issue that requires gender-responsive and transformative planning to protect and ensure equal access to all genders. We believe that road safety includes viable infrastructure, laws, regulation, enforcement and post-crash care in line with the safe systems approach as well as the guarantee of personal security whereby transport systems and policies ensure that women and girls feel safe while they travel at any time and any place.