Not so long ago, officials in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works never imagined that it can be possible to mainstream gender in the transport sector. Most of them thought that the infrastructure and services provided in the transport sector equally benefit both men and women and therefore could not see any reason for gender mainstreaming. However, their perception on gender in the transport sector took a dynamic twist when the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare through the Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (GEWE) programme organized a full day training on gender mainstreaming for key officers in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works. Through this training, officials realised that men and women have unequal share of opportunities, benefits and challenges associated with services provided in the sector hence the need for gender responsive programming.
To ensure that all sub sectors in the transport sector have necessary data to induce gender responsive planning and budgeting; a working session was organized to review indicators currently tracked in the transport sector for gender responsiveness. Opening the session which was held at Chikho Hotel in Kasungu, Acting Director for Transport Planning, Mr. John Bosco Phiri highlighted the importance of collecting gender disaggregated data in the sector as it ensures gender balanced sectoral contribution to the national development agenda. The meeting which drew participants from Transport Planning, Marine, Railways, National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Road Traffic Directorate, Roads Authority, Civil Aviation, Roads Department, UNFPA and Ministry of Gender successfully managed to identify key gender specific indicators which will be embedded in the National Transport Policy which is currently being finalized. Once institutionalized, players in the transport sector will be able to track how training institutions in the transport sector are offering opportunities to women and men; how men and women are benefiting from employment and business opportunities created in the sector; and how decision making powers are spread between men and women amongst key institutions in the sector.
Within the few months that our ministry has been exposed to this concept of gender mainstreaming, significant headways have been made in its efforts to engender the sector. “ We have so far reviewed our draft National Transport Policy to ensure that it adequately addresses needs and priorities of women, men, girls and boys. We now have draft gender mainstreaming guidelines which will ensure that all programmes and initiatives in the sector are gender responsive. We have also trained our officers in Gender Responsive Budgeting so that budgets in our sector are done with a gender eye”. We are on the right path and the ministry together with its partners is confident that a gender responsive transport sector is possible” explained Mr. Phiri.