THE SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL ROADS AGENCY LTD
Creating wealth through infrastructure
1 SEPTEMBER 2006
OUTCOMES OF THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL AFRICAN CONFERENCE ON GENDER, TRANSPORT AND DEVELOPMENT
The First International African Conference on Gender Transport and Development certainly proved to be the culmination of activities for Women's Month. Hosted at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth by The South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL), together with the Department of Transport (DOT) and Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), the conference findings were presented as the pinnacle of the three days' presentations at the closing ceremony on 30 August 2006.
Gender equality and women's empowerment is the third of the eight Millennium Development Goals and transport is recognized as a necessary prerequisite in attaining these goals. Consequently, the conference themes centered on gender, mobility and development; gender, transport and economic development; transport policies, strategies and programmes; technological and infrastructure interventions; and gender, transport, health and safety. Key recommendations emanating from the conference were as follows:
The concept of gender was defined as:
- Socialised roles of men and women through cultural, ideological, political and religious conditioning (dependent on social factors);
- A process, which is subject to change and dynamic, such as identity (irrespective of race, class, ethnicity, age, sexuality, disability etc.);
- A tool through which we understand the unequal distribution of power between men and women (boys and girls).
In view of aforementioned, gender mainstreaming is viewed as a sustainable practice to contest the current situation together with gender analysis, which is essential in all planning and implementation processes. The issues pertaining to these processes are:
- Equitable representation (numerical goals and visibility);
- Education and training;
- Rural versus urban divide;
- An understanding of context, region, locality, geography in the planning phase.
In addition, it was unanimously agreed that the planning phase should take the following into cognizance: Alternatives to motorised transport (e.g. bicycles, animal-driven carts and wheelbarrows); distance to destination (e.g. township to city - travel patterns) and improvement of public transport systems which are sensitive to women's needs. The latter will entail:
- Improvement of rural road networks and safety; and
- More practical, immediate and strategic long-term and transformative measures.
Women's and men's needs should be addressed in the planning phase and should be an integrated, multi-pronged, multi-sectoral approach. This should also include active community participation as decision-makers in the process. Planning programmes and policy should therefore prioritise equality and efficiency (i.e. address women's marginalised position, their needs and strategic interests in their respective economies); as well as forms of empowerment.
The common perception is that development is focused only on infrastructural change. The poor in rural areas need simple, small-scale solutions but the diversity of transport requirements in communities needs to be taken into account.
Critical and empirical analyses are thus required to determine whether the Millennium Development Goals are being met and to provide data, amongst others, on:
- Trip generation models;
- Travel patterns;
- Transport specific problems and alternative interventions;
- Settlement patterns on land under the jurisdiction of traditional leadership;
- Travel choices and travel habits; and
- Attitudes to public transport services and providers.
Ms Priya Pillay Manager: Corporate Communications
The South African National Roads Agency Ltd
Tel: (012) 426-6000
Fax: (012) 362-2117
Cell: 083 283 6152