Gender-Inclusive Maputo: How to include gender equity perspective on an urban mobility project?
Within the Covenant of Mayors of Sub-Saharan Africa framework, the city councils of Maputo, Boane, and Matola are working together with the Metropolitan Transport Agency for developing a sustainable transport system.
A key objective of this project is to include the gender perspective in the mobility policies and urban public spaces of the metropolitan area, as well as in its transport, energy, and climate change agendas.
To discuss and get a better understanding about this topic, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) organized a webinar session with the expert on gender Maria Peix, from Barcelona Metropolitan Area (BMA) and Sara Marquez, project coordinator at the NGO Architect without Borders (AFS).
Although at first sight, “gender” and “mobility” do not have even a letter in common they are, in fact, deeply connected.
Then, is it possible to put gender lenses on projects such as the ones that CoM SSA promotes? Maria Peix gave a clear answer: Absolutely yes! She mentioned that studies show that transportation planning and design are commonly regarded as gender-neutral. It is assumed that transport projects equally benefit both men and women and that there are no significant differences between travel needs and patterns of either gender. On the contrary, how women experience mobility is very different from men. Women present more complex mobility patterns since they include a greater variety of modes of transportation. In particular, they use more public transportation and public space to move by foot at various times of the day. This is due to the existence of deep and persistent social inequalities, gender roles, and responsibilities in the home. This often means that women take on more care activities and home-related errands, which has led to an underestimation of their use in conventional transportation assessments. During the webinar, Maria gave a list of actions that help minimize some gender issues related to urban mobility, such as, the design of bus routes that cater to women’s schedules, an offer of safer bus stations, improve lighting along sidewalks, gender awareness, and capacity-building programs for policy and decision-makers to completely understand and appreciate gender-related issues.
It will be necessary to adapt the public transport services until gender equality is achieved; until women are fully incorporated into the labor market, and domestic and care tasks are shared with men.
Sara Marquez also shared some ASF experiences in the country that helped to better understand the challenges citizens face in public spaces: “In the Maputo streets, only 20% of the space is dedicated to pedestrians but also within that 20%, cars occupy it as parking lots.”
“88% of the Maputo population uses public spaces with many forms of public mobility against the 12% who uses private transportation.”
She highlighted the importance of applying participatory urban planning in those activities related to rehabilitation of public spaces and the protection of the right to the city, as the inalienable right to use any space within the city, and as a mechanism of protection of the population that lives in cities with rapid urbanization processes such Maputo.
The Maputo Metropolitan Area is primarily formed by the city councils of Maputo, Boane, and Matola. It has a population of roughly three million inhabitants and faces major challenges in its push to improve metropolitan mobility such as the rapid growth of its population, the occupancy of unplanned peri-urban areas, and a high demand for and low supply of transportation. In addition to that, another important factor is the rise in violence against women in public transport services, as well as while waiting and walking.
The Covenant of Mayors of Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA) program supports sub-Saharan African cities to address the interconnected challenges of climate change and access to sustainable energy.
It began in 2015 with the support of the European Union. Since 2019, the AECID has been part of CoM SSA, and Mozambique is one of their selected countries they work with. This 2020, Maputo and Matola started the process to join the CoM SSA program, which will allow the city councils to develop several actions focused on climate change mitigation through an inclusive and sustainable mobility model in the Maputo Metropolitan Area.
For several years, the Maputo Metropolitan Transport Agency, Architecture Without Borders, and the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona have carried out a number of project initiatives that have included the improvement of women’s rights with regards to mobility within the Greater Maputo. Under the CoM SSA program, this partnership together with UN-Habitat will continue active. They will jointly implement a project that will focus on strengthening the metropolitan approach, focusing on the transport issue, and recovering public spaces. It is foreseen that their activities will support the three pillars of the CoM SSA program (Pillar I: Development of climate Action Plan; pillar II: Urban infrastructure project support; and pillar III: city-to-city/regional partnerships).
Discussing mobility entails discussing gender roles regarding the use of transports, safety and wellbeing, local economies, and accessible urban design and metropolitan governance. Urban mobility may be the site of daunting challenges, but it is also the site of many inspiring solutions that create more inclusive, safe, and accessible cities.