Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Penang Focus Group 10. Women, Gender Balance and Leadership

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Focus Group 10. Women, Gender Balance and Leadership


 -- Designing all transport around the special needs of women --


* The latest version of this program note is available  as a shared Dropbox library at https://www.dropbox.com/home/Penang


Time/Place: Meeting at Think City on 30 Sept. at 09:00

In brief:    Group discussion of  (a) whether it is a good idea to increase substantially  female participation in planning and decision making in the transport sector, and (b) how exactly to obtain this.

Invited participants:   Penang Women's Development Centre( PWDC). Women's Center for Change. George Town World Heritage Inc. Penang  Handicap Association. Penang Institute. Women’s Development Research Centre (KANITA). Media (Others to be added be members of the group.)

Co-Chairs.  Sri Husnaini Sofjan, Penang Womens Development Centre.   Eric Britton, EcoPlan, Paris

Focus Group objectives (general):  Meet with specialized discussion partners to see if we can together (a) put our fingers on some of the outstanding problems and patterns presently holding Penang back from being among the leading cities when it comes to sustainable transport.  And (b)  to draw attention to recent initiatives that are getting positive results.  Against this backdrop (c) each focus group is being asked to identify one or more low-budget New Mobility Initiatives in their specialty area: measures that can be planned and implemented before December 2014.  We aim to identify at least 20 such projects, and (d) in each case associate the project with an implementation plan and responsible implementation partner. The results of these initiatives will (e) be monitored for progress over 2014 and (f)  presented to the planned 2015 Penang Conference on Implementing Sustainable Transport in Smaller Asian Cities

The problem: Sometimes in life apparently complicated things turn out to be quite simple. Here is a case in point.  If we run an analysis of who makes the decisions about how public money gets spent in the transport sector (in Penang or in most parts of the world), we can discern a clear pattern.  (1) The decision-makers are overwhelmingly male!   They also are generally  (2) educated, (3) have good jobs and (4) either aspire to or have cars which they use every day. Moreover, having access to a car has led many of them to chose housing at some distance from the central city, to which they drive every day. They are thus locked into a car-based life style. This life situation shapes both their vision of the transport sector and its priorities. Thus,  the most simple. rapid and effective way to remedy this is to legally mandate a State Policy of Full Gender Parity for all planning and decision councils in the sector.  And if Penang dares to take this lead, just watch: the rest of the world will soon follow your example.

Why it is important to rectify the gender imbalance?  Women have different mobility patterns and needs in terms of their roles in society. And these differences are important and need to be brought into the decision calculus from the beginning. The female participants now in place under the new law to shape the process will be responsible for ensuring that every decision will be taken with full regard to the special needs and requirements of women of all ages and conditions of life, from early childhood to old age. The is an added advantage to that: if we define our systems to serve women of all ages as our target, everybody will be better off. And note this: partial or nominal rectification of gender imbalance does not get the job done. With a target of full gender balance, by no means should the law sanction public groups meeting or taking decisions with less than a quorum 40% of female representation.

Supporting documentation:  at http://wp.me/p3GVVk-3c  + https://www.dropbox.com/home/Penang


Hotline:  Kartina Mohamed. E. newmobility@thinkcity.com.my   T. +604 222 6800  F. +604 222 6801

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