Women have different travel patterns from men

Sustainable urbanization and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals depends crucially upon the increased participation of women in economic and social activities.

Nevertheless, several constraints combined, limit such participation. One such constraint is the challenge that women face when commuting in cities, whether to places of work, educational institutions, health care facilities or to places that provide opportunities for social interactions or recreation.

Research has shown that women have different travel patterns from men, due to their additional responsibilities of caring for children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Research also shows that women are often victims of sexual harassment in the streets or on public transport. Based on practical examples, UN-Habitat and the Flone Initiative have worked together to develop this Toolkit that can guide public transport operators in improving their services for women.

In Africa, public transport tends to be operated informally, with fleets comprised of smaller vehicles such as minivans.

The recommendations in the Toolkit are also relevant for local and national government authorities making efforts to improve public transport for their citizens through improving the regulatory framework or introducing modern forms of public transport such as a Bus Rapid Transit system.

Users of the Toolkit will observe that the recommendations aim at improving public transport for women, and if adopted, will improve public transport for all including the elderly, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.

Maimunah Mohd. Sharif is the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN-Habitat.

This article was first published as a forward in the Practical Toolkit for Gender Sensitive Mini-Bus Services & Transport Infrastructure for African Cities