Take a stroll through any city, and you’ll immediately notice the issues: dimly lit areas that make women feel uneasy at night, public spaces that don’t cater to everyone’s needs, and public transport systems that can be intimidating due to the risk of harassment. Given the way most cities develop, too often the result is a limit on women’s freedom to move around, be economically active, or simply enjoy the spaces they live in. An inclusive and thriving city isn’t possible while these issues remain unaddressed.

Gender equality in the city

In 2022 we published ‘Cities Alive – Designing Cities that Work for Women’, a collaboration between Arup, UNDP, and the University of Liverpool. The report explored the varying experiences of women in cities worldwide. The result is a comprehensive picture of the hurdles, frustrations, and dangers many women face. It’s a reality check that might hit close to home for some women. And for men, it's a chance to open their eyes and empathize with the urgency of the situation – it’s an issue that the whole community must recognise and address.

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Women and mobility

Women face a range of issues in their access to and use of transport. They have different priorities and needs from the public transit networks their cities offer (or need to develop). If women feel more empowered and safe to use sustainable transport modes such as walking, cycling, public transport and carpooling, there will be less dependence on cars, more public transport trips taken across the day and night, and enhanced quality of life for all. 

In ‘Travelling in a Woman’s Shoes’, commissioned by Transport Infrastructure Ireland, our research revealed the travel and commuting experiences of women in Ireland through data and real-life stories. Their experiences are varied but with shared elements like over-reliance on private cars, fear of public transport after dark and other issues.

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