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Delivering inclusive public transport: HVT’s Reimagining Motion podcast talks to experts on gender and disability about the challenges facing people with disabilities, and women and girls

Transport is not inclusive and urgently needs to change. This is the case the world over, but particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

In the latest series of Reimagining Motion, launched today, we shine a light on the inequalities across the transport sector and explore how those currently excluded need to not only be the beneficiaries of development, but importantly that they are agents of change driving that development.

The four-part series launches its first two episodes today. Our first guest is Fatima Adamu, Executive Director at Nana Girls and Women Empowerment Initiative in Sokoto, Nigeria, and independent consultant. Fatima’s areas of expertise are gender and women’s rights around education, health and transport. She recently worked in partnership with key stakeholders on the HVT project EMPOWER – which gathered new data on the extent of sexual harassment from Lagos in Nigeria and Blantyre in Malawi to fill knowledge gaps and to assist in the delivery of safe and inclusive transport. She is a frontrunner in the struggle to challenge gender inequality and other forms of exclusion and discrimination.

Fatima speaks with our host, Holger Dalkmann, about the ‘gender blindness’ that means the transport system in Nigeria, and across Africa, does not recognise the multiple roles and complex needs of women and asks:

“How can we get a transport system to be able to integrate the needs of women in society?”

Seventy percent of women interviewed for the EMPOWER project said they had witnessed sexual harassment on public transport but the majority of those affected said they didn’t report it. Fatima tells Holger about the consequences of this, and about the steps she believes could be taken to gradually improve the situation.

Our second guest, Ann Frye is an international specialist on the mobility needs of disabled and older people. She advises public, commercial and professional bodies on policy solutions to meet mobility needs in all transport modes and in the pedestrian environment.

Ann speaks about the failure in LICs to recognise disability as a serious economic and social issue. Minimal data collection results in misleading statistics and a belief that disability is not a problem, she says:

“In many low-income countries, there hasn’t really been a proper understanding of the nature of disability or the size of the disabled population.”

Ann tackles the question of raising awareness of the huge economic burden that a country carries if it doesn’t have a productive workforce of people with disabilities who could be economically active, and who want to be, but who are prevented by the lack of support. Change is urgently needed, in policy but also on the ground, she says:

“It’s easy to think that the problem is too big and too expensive. But you can start from a very low base to build up toward something that then can really make a substantial difference.”

Tune in to hear more of Ann and Fatima’s conversations with Holger. The podcasts are available wherever you get your podcasts. The final two episodes of season 3 will be released in the coming weeks.