On the 12th of November, Cairo Climate Talks hosted an intersectional discussion on sustainable transportation and the question of gender.
In her welcoming remarks, Ms. Fatma Soliman, Deputy Director of the German Scientific Exchange Service office in Cairo (DAAD) shared with the audience the different opportunities that the DAAD offers in the field of sustainable transportation and urban planning including collaborations with the universities of Aachen, Munich and the Technical University in Berlin. She also brought attention to the fact that statistically, the perception that transport is gender neutral is inaccurate. “Transport is a traditionally male dominated sector, both from an employment point of view and for the values it embodies.” She added. Following Ms. Soliman’s remarks, Mr. Philippe Maupai, Head of the Science Department at the German Embassy in Cairo, welcomed the audience and stressed on the importance of addressing the emissions from the transport sector since it makes up 23% of total energy-related CO2 emissions. “Population growth and transportation demand are set to increase in the coming years, especially in developing countries, so transport will continue to be a main cause of CO2 emissions, unless we find new, more efficient approaches to transport.” He stressed. He also highlighted the importance of incorporating different behavioral patterns and needs of men and women when planning for sustainable transportation.
When asked about sustainable transportation, Dr. Ahmed ElDorghamy, Renewable Energy and Environmental consultant at the Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe, explained the three pillars of sustainable transport; avoid, shift and improve. “Avoid: How do you plan as an urban planner to minimize commuting? Shift: How do you shift from a non-sustainable mode to a sustainable mode? Improve: How can we improve the quality of fuel if we have to use cars?” He expanded. Dr. Hany Abo ElWafa, researcher and project manager at the Technical University in Munich added to the conversation the importance of also addressing economic, social and environmental considerations when assessing the sustainability factor in the broader sense.
Ms. Nouran Salah, the founder of Cairo Cycling Geckos, described the work her group has been doing in unofficial settlements in Cairo. “We had a women caravan in Ramadan to give away meals to families” she shared “We faced a lot of challenges in terms of safety, heat and fitness. Some of the parents of women in the group were refusing their participation so I talked to them and convinced him that this is very beneficial”. Ms. Soheir Mourad, Senior Advisor and Gender Advisor for the Urban Cluster and the GIZ, explained how civil society and local authority perceive gender considerations as a privilege. Ms. Soheir also mentioned that the planning phase is the most crucial phase because if we put those considerations on the table, we would be avoiding problems like women not being able to use the sidewalks. “There’s also a greater pay-gap, women have smaller salaries. There’s an issue of affordability as well as accessibility” Dr. Hany agreed.
“It’s quite hostile for women to get out of the house, women think about their existence in the public sphere a lot more than men. I was conducting a training for men and women and I asked people about what they do to avoid sexual assault, the women had a very long list, none of the men had even considered that” Ms. Nouran added. While discussing the issue of segregation in forms of transportation, Dr. Hany called segregation a temporary solution, it doesn’t deal with the core of the issue or different part of the commuting trip. Ms. Soheir also mentioned that GIZ is creating gender guidelines for all projects which will force planners to look at the gender lens. “Accessibility is not availability; we can’t keep ignoring the fact that a lot of the services available for women are not accessible” Ms. Soheir concluded.
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