Academic journal article Journal of International Affairs

From Women in Transport to Gender in Transport: Challenging Conceptual Frameworks for Improved Policymaking

Academic journal article Journal of International Affairs

From Women in Transport to Gender in Transport: Challenging Conceptual Frameworks for Improved Policymaking

Article excerpt

Gender analysis provides a conceptual and methodological basis for developing new insights in research and policymaking in any field dealing with human interaction. The disciplines of the built environment are fields where gender-specific insight can significantly contribute to improved policymaking and professional practices, better incorporating the realities of all individuals. Recent developments in European science policy since 1999 have led to the integration of gender into the upcoming EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, known as Horizon 2020. Transport, energy, and climate change are societal challenges that are specifically targeted for research funding in Horizon 2020. These policy developments in science policy can provide the knowledge base for further integration of gender dimensions in specific policy fields, such as transport. While pioneering work in the transport field has already focused on women in transport, I argue for a full integration of gender in all dimensions of transport research. This article presents some conceptual innovations and critical analysis of ideas that have been taken for granted in the field of metropolitan transport. It argues for a full acknowledgment of the idea of a "mobility of care," and for a reevaluation of current overarching uses of notions such as "compulsory mobility." This would contribute to a needed rebalancing of the topics of care and employment as being equally important for transport policy.


The subject of women in transportation was first explored in the 1970s, with research undertaken on such topics as the role of gender in city planning and architecture. Four decades of research and teaching on women and gender in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere has allowed for potentially significant changes and advances in new fields of policymaking. The disciplines of the built environment--such as architecture, housing, transport, and urban planning--are some of the fields where new insights from gender analysis can contribute to better policymaking and increased quality of life for everyone. (1)

Recent developments in European science policy during the last decade have opened the way for the institutionalization of gender mainstreaming in European research. The main funding instrument for research in Europe, the recently approved Research Framework Programme known as Horizon 2020, which will be operational in January 2014, fully integrates gender as an important factor in research and innovation. (2)

After a brief presentation of these recent developments in European science policy, this article presents some insights in the specific field of urban and metropolitan transport, with concomitant implications for the interrelated policy areas of urban and regional planning. It uses gender as an analytical category to propose a new concept, the "mobility of care," coined by this author, and to challenge certain conceptualizations widely used in the field of transport, among them that of "compulsory mobility." (3) The mobility of care provides a framework for recognizing, measuring, making visible, giving value to, and properly accounting for all the travel associated with those care- and home-related tasks needed for the undertaking of everyday tasks. Although globally they tend to be performed mostly by women, as men increase their participation in these tasks, use of gender-aware concepts that integrate care concerns into transport planning will become more significant for both sexes.

The aim is to build a wider knowledge base of mobility patterns, behaviors, and needs, along with improved operational and policy concepts on which to base more equitable transport policies that would better respond to gender needs, thus benefiting both men and women. I will argue for the need to rebalance priorities in the transport agenda, moving from their current central focus on employment-related mobility towards an equivalent consideration and valuing of the travel requirements of care work. …

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