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Moving towards gender equitable public transport operations in a post COVID-19 world

The pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns implemented by governments across the world had severe economic and social repercussions. World over, women are grappling with a triple burden of loss in incomes, increased care and domestic work and an escalation of domestic violence (1). COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women workers in the informal economy (2).The International Labour Organisation (3)reports that 1.3 billion people work informally in Asia and the Pacific, which constitutes 65% of the world’s informal employment. 7 in 10 workers in developing Asia are in the informal economy. Over 92% and 84.5% of women in low-and lower-middle-income countries (LMICs), are in informal employment.

In South Asia, countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal announced lockdowns that restricted public transportation services. The nature of public transportation permitted during the lockdown differed by state and country. For example, while Kabul, Afghanistan announced a lock down, they permitted public transport vehicles carrying less than four passengers (4). In India, all modes of transport-road, rail and air were suspended except for the transportation of essential goods. Post lockdown as restrictions eased, public transport resumed with curtailed services, reduced passenger capacity to encourage physical distancing and fare increases in private buses and paratransit.

Mobility is vital for the economic recovery of resource poor women (RPW) workers, as they are dependent on public transport, paratransit, and walking. The loss in incomes due to the pandemic, need to sustain their households has compelled RPW to resume work. However, there is limited awareness of the impacts of COVID-19 on women’s mobility amongst decision makersand transport policy influencers in LMICs. The impact of modified bus operations, increased fares on RPW’s mobility and access are not understood. Similarly, digitalisation of public transport has not acknowledged the gender divide in the access to ICT technology.

Our research aims to fills this gap. We provide evidence and fast track knowledge uptake to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on RPW’s mobility, inform policy guidance and responses on addressing gender equity in public transport. The research includes a deep dive in Delhi (India), with learnings for LMICs in South Asia…

Shah, S., Rajiv, R., & Lokre, A. (2021). Moving towards gender equitable public transport operations in a post COVID-19 world. The Urban Catalysts.

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