Relevance of gender in the policy area

Transportation facilitates access to the labour market, healthcare and education infrastructure as well as to other services and infrastructures necessary for improving the welfare of individuals and households. Despite the fact that transport projects and policies are often considered to equally benefit women and men, there is a large body of professional literature emphasising that transport is not gender neutral. According to these studies, gender is a significant factor in accounting for differences in mobility and travel behaviour.

Firstly, mobility is experienced differently by women and men, as they use different modes of transport for different purposes and in different ways. In general, women tend to have more complex patterns of mobility (usually at a local level), as they have to combine their caring role with their income activities. For example, in most cases, women are responsible for accompanying their children (and other dependents) to different locations (such as day-care centres, school or leisure activities). This may require the use of multiple modes of transport, as the trips are generally shorter, more frequent and more dispersed during the day. Men, on the other hand, tend to make fewer and more direct trips daily, such as to/from their workplace, often on their own and for a single purpose, and often during peak rush-hour times. Furthermore, women and men have a different attitude towards mobility. Women are more willing to adopt more sustainable transport means (e.g. public transport, walking or cycling) than men, not only because of their lower rate of motorisation, but mostly because they pay more attention to the environmental impacts and related ecological issues.

Another noticeable gender difference is in the times when men and women travel: because women are far more likely to be part-time workers, they travel off-peak more often than men. In addition, fear of violence and aggression means that women are far less willing than men to travel after dark. Indeed, women are more concerned than men about their safety while travelling. For example, women prefer not to travel at night, when lighting is poor, for fear of physical and/or sexual assault. Similarly, overcrowded public transport can increase the risk of sexual harassment.

It is also worth emphasising that there are gender differences in time use and time poverty. Women’s multiple roles often entail dealing with numerous daily tasks. As a result, women often experience time poverty, which impacts significantly on how much time women can allocate for travel: where they go, for how long, for what purpose, and what trips they schedule. Often, women’s travel has to be undertaken in between, or simultaneously with, other daily household tasks (e.g. taking children to school, running household errands, taking care of elderly family members, etc.). The lack of availability and limited performance of transport systems and services thus place different burdens on women and men, with women more likely to forgo their mobility in order to save time.

Second, women and men have different access to means of transport. Men are more likely to have a car, while women are more reliant on slower, non-motorised transport or intermediate modes of transport (such as bicycles). In urban areas, women are generally more dependent on public transport.

Third, women and men have a different behaviour when driving. With regard to the use of cars, fewer women than men in Europe own or use a car. However, women who drive cars are more attentive to other road users and traffic rules, and have fewer accidents than men. According to the INFSTTAR and WIT study, She Moves: Women’s Issues in Transportation, the relationship between risky driving behaviour and involvement in accidents is more often associated with men than women. Among men car drivers and motorcyclists, the rate of those already punished for speeding is higher by 10 percentage points than among women.

Transport remains an area influenced by a set of gender inequalities, which are as follows:

  • gaps in access to transport infrastructure and services
  • segregation within the transport labour market
  • weak representation of women in the decision-making process in the transport sector
  • gender-based violence in transport, which mostly affects women.


Issues of gender inequalities in the policy area

Gender equality policy objectives at eu and international level

Policy cycle in transport

Click on a phase for details

How and when? Transport and the integration of the gender dimension into the policy cycle

The gender dimension can be integrated in all phases of the policy cycle. For a detailed description of how gender can be mainstreamed in each phase of the policy cycle click here.

Below, you can find useful resources and practical examples for mainstreaming gender into transport policies. They are organised according to the most relevant phase of the policy cycle they may serve.

Practical examples of gender mainstreaming in transport


The key milestones of the transport policy are presented below.

Current policy priorities at EU level

The 2011 "Roadmap to a single European transport area: Towards a competitive and resource-efficient transport system", sets the main priorities of the EU transport policy:

  • reduce the EU’s dependence on imported oil;
  • achieve essentially CO2-free city mobility in major urban centres by 2030;
  • cut transport carbon emissions by 60% by 2050.

In detail, the roadmap identifies the following goals for guiding policy action:

  • reduce the use of petrol and diesel cars in cities by half by 2030, phasing them out completely by 2050 and achieve CO2-free city mobility by 2030
  • increase the use of low-carbon sustainable fuels in air transport to 40% by 2050
  • reduce EU CO2 emissions from ship fuels by 40% by 2050
  • switch 30% of road freight travelling over 300 km to rail and waterborne transport by 2030, and over 50% by 2050
  • triple the existing high-speed rail network by 2030, the majority of medium-distance passenger transport should go by rail by 2050
  • establish a fully functioning, EU-wide TEN-T core network integrating all forms of transport by 2030
  • connect major airports to rail and core seaports and rail and inland waterways by 2050
  • introduce traffic management systems for the various modes of transport, such as rail and road
  • develop a multimodal transport information management and payment system by 2020
  • halve road casualties by 2020 and reduce these to almost zero by 2050
  • fully apply the ‘user pays’ (i.e. those who use infrastructure pay for it) and ‘polluter pays’ (i.e. those who pollute pay for it) principles.

As to TEN-T, the main specific current policy priorities foresee the completion by 2030 of the Core Network, structured around nine multimodal Core Network Corridors and, by 2050, of the Comprehensive Network in order to facilitate accessibility to all European regions.[3]

Transport is one of the focuses of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The "Resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative" aims to increase certainty for investment and innovation by forging an agreement on the long-term vision and ensuring that all relevant policies factor in resource efficiency in a balanced manner. It provides a long-term framework for action in many policy areas, among which is transport. When it comes to transport, the initiative seeks to create a competitive transport system that will increase mobility, remove major barriers in key areas and fuel growth and employment by 2050.

Furthermore, transport initiatives are also the core focus of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for Transport and TEN-T Programme which aim to support investments in building new transport infrastructure in Europe or rehabilitating and upgrading the existing one.

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