Over the past years, the World Bank Group has made important steps towards ensuring mainstreaming gender in their operations. In the transport sector, the development of gender mainstreaming tools such as trainings, guidelines, checklists, and publications such as “Mainstreaming Gender in Road Transport: Operational Guidance for World Bank Staff” and “Social Development & Infrastructure” provide staff with information and tools to incorporate gender-related issues in their transport projects. However, much more can be done in this area and the use of innovative strategies can prove to be valuable additions in this important endeavor.
Some suggestions to include in the process of gender mainstreaming in transport beyond the currently utilized and previously mentioned tools include:
- Multidisciplinary teams: If gender is to be addressed successfully in transport projects, the establishment of a multidisciplinary team is essential. A team that, since the planning stages, includes collaboration of engineers with sociologists, economists and anthropologists will be able to provide a better representation of both the infrastructure, social and economic needs of the individual and community.
- Impact evaluations: Assessing the outcome of interventions and investments generates data on the effectiveness of projects. The results of impact evaluations can provide examples of project design and execution that address gender mainstreaming in transport, with the possibility of scaling successful interventions and solutions. Furthermore, it is important to note that while the traditional research methods used for impact evaluations have been mainly quantitative methods, a more complete picture of the results can be presented by utilizing mixed methods. The joint use of quantitative and qualitative methods provides an important component in understanding the core underlying issues, and capturing the complexities and dynamics of the project or intervention.
- Learning from failure: “The wisdom of learning from failure is incontrovertible. Yet organizations that do it well are extraordinarily rare.” The organizational culture of success is strongly engrained within the Bank: the more successful a project, the more positive recognition; failure of a project many times is seen as shameful. However, a fresh way in which innovative corporations and institutions are assessing their performance and outcomes is by identifying and learning from their failures. Failure should be discussed and assessed as an important tool for reflection and learning, thus becoming an important component of institutional learning. In this way, the World Bank can move to encourage and adopt a more innovative approach in its knowledge strategy.
- Cross-regional and cross-sectoral collaboration/ knowledge sharing: The exchange of ideas and experiences between regions and sectors strengthens the capacity to interpret the knowledge and projects within the context of their own local circumstances. Additionally, it provides ideas to adapt those lessons that are locally relevant.
Following the World Bank’s commitment to gender mainstreaming, a renewed gender strategy with an emphasis on impact and results is currently in the works. Consultation meetings with members of the Interagency Gender and Development Group have been held during this year.
A recurring topic in the consultations has been the issue of gender barriers to transport, and lack of mobility as a major constraint for women’s access to the job market. Given the critical role that women play in the economic development of a country, and the function that transport plays in the mobility of women, gender mainstreaming in transport is essential to international development.
As the World Bank moves into a new gender strategy and a new institutional strategy guided by the two main goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity, new challenges also emerge. The challenge of delivering long-term, strong, sustainable, and equitable economic growth can only be met if all available resources — social and economic — are used to their full extent. In order to have more equitable transport infrastructure and policies, the World Bank has to develop and partake in an innovative way of looking at and doing things, along with the change in perspective from a focus on infrastructure itself to the needs, individual and community, of those who utilize transport systems.
This post first appeared on The World Bank’s Transport for Development Blog. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.
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Author: Catalina Crespo-Sancho is a Consultant in the Transport & ICT Global Practice for the World Bank.
Image: Heavy traffic moves along a busy road during the evening in New Delhi. REUTERS/Vijay Mathur