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Gender Norms

Improving women’s mobility: it’s not just about the quality of buses

Karla Dominguez Gonzalez's picture
A young woman waits at a bus terminal in Brazil. Photo: WRI Brasil/Flickr
The global transport conversation increasingly recognizes that men and women have different mobility patterns, and that this reality should be reflected into the design of transport projects. In general, women engage in more non-work-related travel such as to run household errands and are more likely to travel with children and elders. Therefore, but not exclusively because of that, they travel shorter distances and within a more restricted geographical area; make more (multi-stop) trips, and rely more on public transport. Women also travel at lower speeds and spend a higher percentage of income in transport than men, limiting their access to certain employment areas. There are exceptions, however, as studies have shown that in some cities, like Mumbai, women follow mobility patterns that more closely resemble men’s, making longer trips during peak hours, directly from point to point.
 
Key variables like affordability, availability, and accessibility play a big part in this phenomenon. But are there other factors shaping women’s decision to travel in the first place? Current evidence on women’s mobility has focused on diagnosing differences in travel behavior or on characteristics of transport systems that affect women and men’s mobility differently. Less attention has been given to individual, social, cultural and relational factors shaping women’s travel behaviors and decisions. The desire to dig deeper on this motivated a forthcoming study on Women’s mobility in LAC cities, prepared under the auspices of the Umbrella Facility for Gender Equality.