UN-Habitat’s Deputy Executive Director, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, will chair an important session on access to urban mobility for women and girls at the 58th session on the Commission for the Status of Women.
The event, titled “Equitable Urban Mobility – Supporting the Empowerment of Women and Girls” will take place on Tuesday 18th March at 1830 at the UN Headquarters in New York and will explore the current challenges facing women with respect to access and safety when it comes to urban mobility. The event will serve to provide a platform for UN-Habitat partners to share their experiences in the promotion of inclusive urban mobility solutions which drive the accessibility agenda as an effective means of empowerment for women and girls.
The event, which will feature key speakers from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women, the Huariou Commission and other grassroots women's groups, will also aim at producing a statement for the inclusion of indicators and targets on urban sustainable development for the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 agenda.
Immediately following the event, there will also be a guided safety walk around the neighborhood showcasing a new urban safety mobile phone app called Safetipin. Safetipin allows users to assess the safety of an area based on information uploaded by other users with respect to street lighting, frequency of use and other safety-related criteria. It also allows victims to upload information about previous safety incidents to highlight hotspots of violence or crime in any given area.
More than three billion people currently reside in cities, a figure expected to rise to five billion by 2050. While cities can be sites of safety, opportunity, and access to services — factors that can contribute to poverty alleviation — they can also concentrate risks of violence and insecurity, especially to vulnerable groups such as women and adolescent girls. Unplanned urban growth driven by rapid urbanization has had profound impacts on the dynamics of mobility and transport planning in increasingly complex, socially segregated urban settings.
While affordability of transport for the urban poor, accessibility and, economic and social equity have recently become topical concerns of urban mobility; the gender specific challenges of urban travel are often neglected. There is a strong relationship between poverty and lack of access to adequate urban mobility.
Urban women and girls not only experience the city differently than men and boys, they also face particular risks in urban environments when transiting in the city. In many countries of the world, they have fewer transport options than men and, moreover, they are less likely to have access to private motorized transport.
Furthermore, safety and security in public transport and when commuting on foot are issues that disproportionately affect women. Significant levels of sexual harassment of women on urban public transport systems are frequently reported worldwide and can be further complicated by local cultural factors such as the prohibiting of mixing men and women in public etc. These barriers to urban mobility impact on educational possibilities, access to employment, to health care and to social networks. Indeed, urban mobility is not just about developing transport infrastructure and services but about overcoming the social, economic, political and physical barriers to movement, such as class, gender relations, poverty, physical disabilities and affordability.