Mobility is not gender neutral. This not only pertains to individual mobility, but also to the transport and planning sectors themselves, which are heavily dominated by men. Social stereotypes and role distribution within a predominantly male workforce, as well as care work mostly carried out by females, do the rest to create an environment that is aligned with male needs. Although this situation is changing slowly, a male and stereotypically technical perspective still dominates today’s mobility. Female mobility is less visible since a considerable share of their work is unpaid, and thus not accounted for by classic means of transport data registration. Female mobility is also more complex than male mobility; as a result, it relies on a functioning multimodal transport system. For women the benefit of a means of mobility is not simply as a way to get from A to B, but also in the shaping of the public space. They have different safety needs than men, and they must devise strategies for moving around in public spaces to feel less vulnerable. In the media and in public discussions, women and marginalised people have difficulties participating or being heard with regard to their special needs. This is certainly a reason why there is a significant unawareness of their safety and inclusion needs (Klaas, 2021).

In Europe, gender mobility is part of the “Strategy for equality between women and men 2020-2025”. The EU has identified a set of actions to move towards social equality between genders, with the aim to address some of the still remaining gender gaps. The actions proposed follow a dual approach: gender mainstreaming and specific measures. Gender mainstreaming is the integration of the gender perspective into every stage of policy process (design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation) and into all policies of the Union, with a view to promoting equality between women and men. Gender-specific measures in transport planning are becoming more frequent in all European cities.

The communication of a gender sensitive perspective supports a planning culture informed by everyday needs and nurtures greater awareness of the different needs of women and men in relation to life phases, life realities, cultural and social backgrounds (Civitas, 2020).

Local authorities have communication teams tasked with providing up-to-date information on public services, taxes, regulations, planning laws, new initiatives, elections, rights and much more, to a variety of audiences. Both online and in print, these resources rely on visual graphics and descriptions to convey information which risk portraying women and men in stereotypical roles. Whether it be women represented as fulfilling care or domestic chores, while men perform physical labour or scientific work, the words and images the city uses are in danger of reinforcing out-dated ideas about the family, workplace and what it means to be a man or a woman. On the other hand, with well-conceived guidance these images and messaging can instead represent the diversity of the city, the contributions of women and men in positive ways, that instils a sense of civic pride and belonging (URBACT, 2019).

Like in previous decades, media and advertising continue to influence on men’s use of private cars. Advertising has sold us the idea that a successful, powerful men drive big cars, and that a car ‘complete’ them (Ramboll, 2021).

On the other hand, European societies are more and more vigilant regarding gender issues like sexualisation or misrepresentation; and many initiatives exist to promote gender equality and reinforce women’s empowerment in the media representations, such as UNESCO’s Gender-sensitive Indicators for Media[1] contributing to gender equality and women’s empowerment in all forms of media.

[1] Gender-sensitive indicators for media: framework of indicators to gauge gender sensitivity in media operations and content. UNESCO, 2012.