Inspiring Practice Project

The “mobility of care”: a new concept and category in transportation

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 08 February 2016
Last modified on 15 March 2016

The project’s objective was to use a gender perspective to analyse the main Spanish transportation surveys and to propose measures for improvement. The key result was the creation of a new analytical category for transportation statistics and surveys: mobility of care. Public transport systems are typically designed around the needs of full-time workers. Therefore, transportation survey categories—and the statistics and analysis—may not properly account for trips arising from caring work, such as childcare, elder care and household maintenance, which are currently either hidden under other headings (e.g., visits, shopping) or not counted at all because the short distance travelled. By incorporating the idea of caring work and mobility of care into user surveys, the significant number of caring-work trips becomes visible and quantifiable. In addition, since women’s mobility relies less on cars, understanding gender differences in public transportation is also important for understanding climate change and for planning efficient neighbourhoods and cities.

This research explicitly addresses the significant differences in the purposes of public transport between men and women. For example, the Harmonised European Time Use Survey showed that women spend more time in childcare activities, implying that consideration of caring work is one key to integrating the diversity of women’s and men’s transportation needs. Other research has shown that a lack of adequate transportation has a negative impact on women’s access to employment, forcing them to drop from the labour force or to settle for part-time work.

Increased understanding of gender mobility patterns will contribute to better addressing the diversity of transportation needs. It will also contribute to social inclusion by providing empirical evidence for building transportation policies that address the needs of everyone irrespective of gender or family responsibilities.

This research addresses openness and transparency by creating a category for the classification and measurement of trips that have been mostly invisible to transportation planners. Looking at transportation surveys through a ‘gender lens’ has revealed previously hidden mobility patterns derived from gender roles and social norms.
The project’s methodology involved challenging gender assumptions embedded in the field of transportation, which has been designed to promote economic development by facilitating the movement of workers (statistically male) and products in the paid economy. Challenging gender biases and assumptions in key categorisations and concepts involves considerable self-reflection within the transportation field and anticipates knowledge that can improve transportation policies for people with care responsibilities.
Consideration of gender needs is important in designing future transportation policies that are more responsive and adaptive to the needs of everybody. Adaption to gender needs can contribute to increased sharing of family responsibilities by easing the ways in which all individuals can face their daily travel needs in the city.
Exploration, Monitorization & Evaluation
The mobility of care category allows for better description, measurement and recognition of care-related travel. It is designed as a concept/category that parallels that of mobility for employment reasons. Recent surveys of Madrid (in 2014) found that 30–45 year olds made a similar percentage of trips for care-related activities (~30%) compared to trips made for employment purposes. But there were large sex differences: women (40%) made significantly more care trips than did men (9%).
Mobility of care provides perspective for ‘recognizing and revaluing care work’ in transportation policy. Adding this concept to transportation surveys facilitates adequate policy responses to these necessary trips.


From 31/12/2008 to 31/12/1969

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