High Volume Transport

Vital transport research to ensure accessible, affordable and climate friendly transport for all.

Webinar: The impact of COVID-19 on women in transport

On Friday 15th May 2020 at 14.00 BST, the UKAid-funded High Volume Transport Applied Research Programme (HVT) and the World Road Association – PIARC discussed the impact of COVID-19 on women in transport.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are living in unprecedented times.
However, the impact of social distancing policies on the transport sector in low-income countries presents different challenges to those faced in developed economies. The differences in impact of such policies on men and women is also challenging.

Globally, more women than men work in the health sector and need to travel to work despite stay at home policies. Women frequently play a greater role than men in feeding and caring for household member and in many low-income countries, women play a large part in the informal economy and local food supply. They often need to travel for food and medicines.

As economies close in response to COVID-19, women face significant risks to their health and livelihoods. In the transport sector, where women are already significantly under-represented, they face precarious and vulnerable employment situations that any COVID-19-related economic crisis will accentuate, in a differentiated way to that facing men in the sector.

Any post-COVID-19 response must recognise these gender differences, involve both men and women in its development and be equitable and inclusive in its impact. This webinar draws on current experiences from experts around the world working in this field and will draw together thoughts on key issues and useful initiatives in place or planned to address them.

Click here to access the webinar presentation and summary notes.

Click here for the recording.


14.00Welcome – Jeff Turner
Introduction to HVT – Louise Cathro
Introduction to PIARC – Christos Xenophontos
14.05Presentation by PIARC – Christos Xenophontos, Anna Wildt-Persson
14.17Women’s mobility and transport in African cities since the onset of COVID-19 – Gina Porter (University of Durham)
COVID-19 response, public transport policy and women’s mobility in Nigeria – Fatima Adamu (University of Sokoto)
Impact of COVID-19 on women public transport workers – Claire Clarke (International Transport Workers’ Federation)
Impact of COVID-19 on women professionals in public transport in Kenya – Naomi Mwaura (Flone Initiative)
15.05Open discussion Q&A
15.25Conclusion and summary – Jeff Turner


Christos Xenophontos & Anna Wildt-Persson, PIARC

PIARC’s presentation provided a short synopsis of the work undertaken by the organisation in support of its members during the COVID-19 crisis through the rapid organisation of webinars with relevant content from around the world. We provided the relevant references that can now be accessed online and free of charge. 

The presentation also covered the work undertaken by TC 1.1 on the Organisation of Staff and Human Resources and touched on the Foresight Session in Abu Dhabi on Equity Issues.

Gina Porter, University of Durham, Women’s mobility and transport in African cities since the onset of COVID-19

This presentation introduced an ongoing research study funded by the  UK Economic and Social Research Council Global Challenges Research Fund [ESRC/GCRF] on the everyday transport and mobility challenges faced by young women living in poor peripheral communities of three African cities – Tunis, Abuja and Cape Town.  With the onset of COVID-19  we are having to readjust our research focus.  Our research teams – in-country partners, the young women researchers from the study communities we have trained, Transaid, and Durham University staff – are now working together to try to chart how young women’s everyday experiences of mobility and transport – both as transport users and as transport sector workers – are changing as processes of lockdown and its relaxation evolve and how this is likely to reshape their post-COVID future transport and mobility experiences.   

Fatima Adamu, University of Sokoto, COVID-19 Response, Public Transport Policy and The Prospect of Women in the Post Covid 19 Transport Sector in Nigeria

Transport operations in Nigeria, like many parts of Africa is dominated by the private sector and poorly regulated by the government for the public goods. Women, Transport and Employment in Africa research in Nigeria found that women as users and employees are affected more than men in this poorly regulated transport system. Women as transport users faced the challenges of insecurity; difficulties in transporting their goods to market, travelling to places of work, transporting their children to school and discharging their social responsibilities of sustaining social ties and relationships. Similarly, few women that are in the transport business faced all kinds of verbal and physical abuses for daring to be in a business preserved for men.

Will increasing regulations by government to curb the spread of Covid 19 improve the status of women in the Nigeria transport business? The national and state governments have reined on Nigeria poorly regulated transport operation by introducing transport policy in order to curtail the spread of Covid 19. These policies have been evolving as the spread of Covid 19 infection evolves.

The focus of this presentation was to review these policies using the gender lens. These policies are currently affecting women and men differently. The presentation attempted to answer the following questions: How are the Covid transport policies affecting women and men? How will these policies affect transport operation after Covid 19? How will the Covid transport policies affect women’s role in the transport sector after Covid 19?

This presentation is part of a research project on “Youth engagement and skills acquisition within Africa’s transport sector: promoting a gender agenda towards transition into meaningful work” that is funded as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund [GCRF] awarded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council [ESRC].

Claire Clarke, International Transport Workers’ Federation, Impact of COVID-19 on women public transport workers

Transport workers are the lifeblood of a global economy linking supply chains and keeping the world moving, and vital to successfully responding to the challenge of Covid-19. Protecting the health, income and jobs of public transport workers is critical to responding to and recovering from this pandemic, and it is imperative that the global narrative and response does not exclude women transport workers as is so often the case.

The gender-segregated nature of our industry will continue to have a disproportionately negative impact on women transport workers. However, recognising the extent to which the outbreak affects women and men differently is a fundamental step to creating effective, equitable policies and interventions as part of a strong response to the crisis, resulting in better outcomes for women, but also for everyone.

This presentation set out the impacts of COVID-19 for women public transport workers around the world, as well as the key areas for action that the ITF has identified as part of the immediate and longer-term response.

Naomi Mwaura, Flone Initiative, Impact of COVID-19 on women professionals in public transport in Kenya

Flone Initiative is a pan-African women-led non-profit organization working towards the realisation of Safe, Accessible, Inclusive and Sustainable public transportation, with particular focus on women and vulnerable groups.  

Flone conducted a random sampling of 30 out of the 70 women in Transport members in Nairobi to establish how they had been affected by COVID-19 and the measures the government has put in place. This presentation outlined the findings from the survey the interventions put in place to support women. The results outline the profile of the women surveyed and their health status; many women have reported on mental and emotional anxieties that have arisen as a result of loss income impacting on their ability to meet financial commitments; fear of contracting COVID; food insecurity; and caring for children at home.