February 09, 2018

#WomenOnTheMove: Women and Transport in Indian Cities

Photo Credit: Santhosh Loganaathan, ITDP India

“Ultimately, transportation is the fulcrum that allows women to participate in the workforce; a societal shift to transform the entire world economy.”

– Sonal Shah, Former Senior Manager, ITDP India Programme 

Centred around this idea, ITDP and Safetipin have released a policy brief on Women and Transport in Indian Cities. The draft was released on 13 June 2017 at a roundtable discussion on Gender and Transit, organized by ITDP, Safetipin, and UN Women with participation from 30 women’s groups, international organizations, professionals and academic institutions.

The coming decade will be a defining moment for India as its urban areas are estimated to constitute around 40% or 600 million of its total population by 2030. According to the High Powered Executive Committee (HPEC), around INR 23 lakh crores is required over 2015–2030 for India’s urban transport infrastructure. The national government has initiated missions and schemes to invest in urban transport and infrastructure; and created indicators and service level benchmarks to establish a city’s baseline and goal for improvement. The recently announced Green Urban Mobility Scheme (GUMS) expects to invest around INR 70,000 crores over 2018–2023 on sustainable transport.

“The defining characteristic of violence against women is its normalization and ordinary and continuous nature.”

– Kalpana Viswanath, Co-founder & CEO, Safetipin

While there is momentum by different levels of government in addressing women’s safety in public transport, urban transport investments are largely gender blind with a limited understanding of the interrelationships between gender and transport. Sustainable urban development will remain elusive without integrating women and girls in urban transport.

Photo Credit Steve Evans

Ultimately transportation will help women access economic and social opportunities. In the next few years, cities will need to make a concerted effort to improve women and girls’ experience of sustainable modes of transport to achieve a target of 40% of all trips. The policy brief fills this gap by providing a framework to integrate technical, social, quantitative, and qualitative approaches for enabling this transition.

The brief underscores the need for policy focusing on women and transport in Indian cities. It covers gendered dimensions of urban transport, with a focus on trip chaining and purpose, modal shares, trip distances, time poverty, sexual harassment, and employment in the transport sector.  The brief also proposes urban transport indicators and service level benchmarks for comprehensive mobility plans. Recommendations to improve women’s modal shares and experiences of walking, cycling, public and intermediate public transport, and engendering public transport authorities are included.  Since urban transport is not the responsibility of one ministry or department, gender inclusion will require interventions at multiple scales and coordination with a number of ministries and departments.

Women’s access and use of urban transportation will play a key role in achieving India’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) and ensure women’s right to the city and its public spaces.

“When we create cities – their public spaces and transport systems – that are responsive to the needs of women, children, and the elderly, they become great cities for all!” 

  – Shreya Gadepalli, ITDP India Program Leader

Download the policy brief here.

This article was originally published by ITDP India.  View here.


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