Gender Mainstreaming in Rural Transport: An Analysis of Policies, Practices, Impacts and Monitoring Processes

IFRTD is currently implementing a ReCAP funded project titled Scaling up of gender mainstreaming in rural transport through the analysis of policies, practices, impacts and monitoring processes. The project reviews some of the past and ongoing policies and practices on gender mainstreaming in rural transport programmes with a view of distilling the key lessons and identifying opportunities for scaling up good practice. The research is based on comparative, networked case studies of past and ongoing rural transport programmes in Ghana and Uganda (the primary case study countries) supplemented by limited desk studies from Kenya and Tanzania.   It is undertaken in recognition that there still exists substantial gaps in knowledge, policy and practice in respect of sustainably mainstreaming gender equity interventions in rural transport and access programmes.
The research seeks to answer four main questions that are persistent challenges to gender mainstreaming in the rural transport sector. These are:

  • What monitoring tools, indicators and targets have been used across different projects/programmes, and what has been their success and weaknesses?
  • How can these be improved?
  • What cross country lessons on the use of the tools can be learnt and be disseminated?
  • What are the factors that can lead to successful scaling up of gender mainstreaming, i.e., from projects to national programmes and policies?

The project is employing qualitative methods of data collection and analysis and will involve document reviews as well as primary data collection form key informant interviews.  The study lays emphasis on project cycle analysis of key project stages - identification, design, implementation and evaluation- to ascertain the extent to which gender mainstreaming objectives were embedded.
The research will culminate into four stand-alone case study reports and an overall synthesis report.
The project runs from September 2016 and will be completed in April 2017.  Currently, a review of relevant literature has been carried out. It shows that there is a good body of work showing the enormous transport demands placed on women in many African societies.  It debunks the assumption that transport projects are indiscriminate in the flow of benefits they offer to men and women and the belief that there are no significant differences in their travel patterns, modes of transport access, and utilization of transport infrastructure and services. Gender and transport research underscores how African women’s time poverty - which is inextricably connected to transport demands arising from their multiple roles in production, reproduction and broader community support -  is exacerbated by their widespread inability to access transport services due to lack of funds cultural constraints or both. Six important gender differences in transport for men and women are found in literature. These are summarized below.

  • Gender Differences in Travel Patterns: Women have daily mobility patterns that are more complex than men, owing to their gender roles, which combine domestic and care giving tasks with paid employment, income-earning activities, and community and social obligations.
  • Gender Differences in Use of Transport Modes: Women and men often do not have equal access to different modes of transport. For many women in developing countries, walking remains the predominant mode of travel, particularly in rural areas, because other transport modes are often not available, are too expensive, or are located too far away from home for women to access.
  • Gender Differences in Time Use and Time Poverty: Women’s multiple gender roles in the reproductive, productive, and community spheres often means juggling numerous daily tasks. As a result, women often experience “time poverty” that impacts significantly on how much time women can allocate for travel— where they go, for how long, and what for purpose, and the scheduling of trips they make.
  • Gender Differences in Access to Resources for Travel: As women generally have lower cash incomes and may have less decision-making control over household financial resources, they may have limited affordability for public transport services.
  • Gender Differences in Mobility and Safety: In some socio-cultural contexts, strict sex segregation especially in public spaces is the cultural norm. In these societies and communities, the public domain is largely a male world, while women are confined to the private domestic sphere of the household. This influences the social and cultural acceptance of women’s independent travel beyond the home and vicinity of the community and constrains women’s mobility.
  • Personal safety: harassment on public transport are significant concerns for women. Women are often subjected to sexual and other forms of harassment when using transport services. Therefore, for women, perceptions of safe travel go beyond physical road safety to include risks of harassment, stalking, sexual assault, or rape.

Transport investments that are designed with due consideration of a gendered perspective can bring significant benefits to women in terms of increased access to employment, markets, education and health services, as well as directly reducing their time poverty.  Gender differences need to be well understood in order to inform the design of inclusive transport projects. Gender dimensions of transport become more evident when transport investments are viewed in terms of enabling the mobility of people for different purposes and needs, and by different modes—which are experienced differently by women and men, girls and boys.
Literature from case study countries show that governments recognize the importance of gender mainstreaming and that there are initiatives to address gender inequalities and its associated disparities. But many of the initiatives are outside the transport sector. While other sectors continue to make great strides in gender mainstreaming, conventional transport planning models are yet to go beyond “compliance requirements” and fully internalise the concept and its principles as part of project performance, sustainability and success framework.
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Contact Person: Peter Njenga
Position: Executive Director and Coordinator East and Southern Africa
Tel/Fax: +254 (20) 883323
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