Our roundtable discussions, as well as our wider research, have demonstrated a great deal of best practice examples of how organisations have created safe and sustainable transport networks and public spaces for women and girls both across the UK, and around the world.
Yet at the same time, we cannot ignore how poor perceptions of safety are still one of the most influential factors on women and girls’ mobility patterns, with a lack of secure environments often restricting their personal accessibility, especially to key opportunities. As women and girls rely more on public transport and active travel modes than men but are often more vulnerable to violence in public spaces, we strongly feel this has to change and that our transport networks and public spaces need to be safer for all.3
In fact, ensuring safe and secure transport should be a basic requirement for inclusive development, with safe access to transport networks embedded in the core objectives of public transport authorities and operators, to fully meet the needs of all segments of society including women and girls and covering all diverse backgrounds, ages and ethnicities.
Despite the roundtables being split into areas of expertise, similar messages were voiced throughout each one. These included the neglect of gender issues being captured in transport planning and policy making, the inherent lack of disaggregated data on gender issues, the absence of any gender responsive budgets and the unequal representation of women in transport decision making, which in turn exacerbated a low awareness of women’s specific needs across the transport industry.
There was also unanimous consensus that wider societal norms, misogynistic attitudes and values embedded in cultural viewpoints, together with underlying inequalities had fostered gender-based violence and this profoundly needs to be tackled across all industries, not just within the transport industry alone. Furthermore, the inappropriate behaviours undertaken by perpetrators need to be fully highlighted, with clear messages that these are not in any way acceptable or tolerated.
- Read the ONS (2018) The commuting gap: Differences between the commuting habits of men and women across the UK.
Using the available resources such as staffing and deployment of police forces, at locations which will have
the greatest impact on our transport networks, providing better training for staff on issues around VAWGs and stricter staffing safeguarding practices, were key suggestions to giving women and girls greater confidence in using our transport systems. Similarly, creating consistency in reporting mechanisms, covering all modes and areas, alongside embracing new technologies and working with schools and colleges, on educating and informing the next generation were also highlighted to improve safety on our networks.
In addition, having the right mechanisms, structures and procedures in place in the form of Safer Travel Teams and having the resources to support these collaborations between the police, transport authorities and operators will make it easier to deliver on many of the recommendations. Yet also acknowledging that the railways will not be devolved in the same way, due to their different structure and appreciating this transport network already has a dedicated policing service through the BTP.
Finally, central government needs to play a key role through devolution and delivering on the appropriate powers, alongside providing vital funding and support to tackle VAWGs. It needs to continue to hear the voices of those with lived experiences of VAWGs to influence and shape changes and most importantly, promote this work in the long term and embed it across
all departments and in wider society, to change social norms and behaviours.
Below outlines the 13 recommendations for the DfT, alongside other government departments and the transport industry and trade bodies, to endorse and deliver on over short-, medium- and longer-term periods.
First order priorities
Better national transport planning guidance on ways to make transport infrastructure safer with a clear, monitored reporting service for infrastructure damage or issues
Improvements in the collection of gender disaggregated data
Undertake a national communications initiative into tackling VAWGs, which is promoted nationally across our transport networks
Deliver better, effective training across the transport industry to help manage incidents involving VAWGs
Review current safeguarding practices and standardise Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for all front facing staff across the transport industry
Medium term goals
Encourage an increased uptake of women working in the transport industry
Embrace more use of technology to combat VAWGs
Introduce Gender Responsive Budgets to support the delivery of gender equality infrastructure and policies
Longer term ambitions
- Create a national, intelligence database which captures incident reporting from all transport modes and areas
- Develop a national education initiative in schools which educates young people on ways they can play a role in preventing VAWGs
- Target available resources including staffing and deployment of police forces at locations which will have the greatest impact on our transport networks
- Establish more Safer Travel Partnerships between operators, local authorities and the police
- Continue to raise awareness and make a positive impact through the tackling VAWG strategy