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Breaking the glass ceiling in Stockholm

In 2017, in the wake of the UITP Summit in Montreal, we had set ourselves a target to double the amount of women speakers at the next edition. We are proud to say that we reached our goal with a total of 42% women speakers and no male-only panels in the Congress! A big step forward in the battle for diversity and gender balance in public transport!

The Summit had a lot more going on in terms of promoting gender diversity. As part of our ongoing #PT4ME campaign, focusing this year on women working in public transport, UITP hosted a side event on its stand on Monday 10 June, to address the underlying issues currently facing women working in our sector, as well as to go more in depth into the reasons for our joint recommendations with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

“Public transport is too important to just leave it to men”—Alexandra van Huffelen, General Director of GVB, summed it up perfectly in this simple but powerful statement.

UITP welcomed Alexandra, as well as many other advocates for the PT4ME campaign to the side event podium to share a few words in support of the campaign and our recommendations. The nine recommendations, agreed by ITF and UITP jointly, propose concrete measures for public transport companies and organisations to implement in order to create a safer and more inclusive work environment for women.

“I think there are many issues on which employers and unions do not agree,” said Alana Dave, Urban Transport Director at ITF, “but actually this is one area where there is huge potential for us to collaborate on gender equality measures.”

Alana insists that while showing vision and leadership in tackling this issue is important, what it really takes to change the current situation is action.

“This agreement is not enough unless we implement it in our workplaces and in our cities and in our companies”, said Alana. “On behalf of ITF, we are very ready to enter into that partnership with you to implement these measures.”

It seems that many agree with her! Ángela María Orozco Gómez, Minister of Transport in Colombia, also voiced her support for the campaign and explained that in Colombia the same issues need to be addressed in the both the public transport and urban infrastructure sectors.

Sophie Mauzerolle, City Councillor in Montreal, also called on the audience to take collaborative action: “We must join our efforts to change the perception and take action. We must collectively find a way to improve the services we offer for women.”

We even had Lizette Soria Sotelo, Technical Specialist on Ending Violence against Women, working for UN Women, reinforce our messages by insisting on the need for us to create a “safe environment for men and women in both public spaces and the workplace”, and in this way, “We can move towards that mandate of gender equality and women empowerment”.

UITP takes gender-diversity and women empowerment very seriously, which is why we set goals and standards for our own organisation to evolve towards. Lindsey Mancini, Head of the Secretary General’s Office at UITP, spoke on behalf of this UITP Commitment to improve the gender balance on the management level of our association, and shares her complete faith in our current Secretary General Mohamed Mezghani, who has promised to see this commitment to fruition.

“You can count on UITP’s determination to do everything it can to ensure that the public transport sector, which is already inclusive by definition, reach that same level of inclusiveness when it comes to ensuring equal opportunity for women”, said Mohamed.

To the women already working in this sector: public transport is equally yours, so go out and fight for it—“why wait?” as Alexandra van Huffelen said in her speech.

To those considering a career in public transport: why not have a look at what advice these three successful women already working in our sector have to say: