The Mobility of Care: Introducing Gender-Aware Concepts in Transportation Planning aims at providing a better understanding of travel patterns of women and men, by taking into account the travel implications of daily tasks performed by individuals with care responsibilities.


AUDIO: Ines Sanchez de Madariaga - “Mobility of Care”


Issues which the lecture addresses

This lecture uses gender as an analytical category to propose a new concept, the "mobility of care", and to challenge certain conceptualizations widely used in the field of transport, among them that of compulsory mobility. The umbrella concept "mobility of care" provides a framework for recognizing, measuring, making visible, valuing and properly accounting for all the travel associated to those caring and home related tasks needed for the reproduction of life. While these daily tasks continue to be mostly performed by women around the world, as men increase their participation in care activities, gender approaches to transport planning will become more and more significant for individuals of both sexes. The aim is to build a better knowledge base of mobility patterns, behaviors and needs on which to develop more equitable transport policies that provide a better response to gender needs to the benefit of both men and women.

Short analysis of the above issues

Gender analysis provides a conceptual and methodological basis for developing new insight in research and policy making in the disciplines of the built environment. "Mobility of care" includes all travel resulting from home and caring responsibilities: escorting others; shopping for daily living, with the exclusion of leisure shopping; household maintenance, organisation, and administrative errands, as different from personal walks for recreation; visits to take care of sick or older relatives, again as different from leisure visits; etc. Many of these care trips are today not sufficiently accounted for in transportation datasets. Care trips can be hidden under other headings when considering the purpose of trips, such as leisure, strolling, visits, or other trips. Sometimes they are simply not counted, as frequently happens with trips made on foot and short distance trips of less than one km which are intentionally not included in many surveys. Most significantly, these journeys are not seen as a whole, as a single category. Because statistics capture data on escorting, shopping, errands, etc., as separate and unrelated reasons for travel, rather than as specific tasks within the wider work of social reproduction, the overall weight of the mobility of care is systematically underrepresented.

Insights resulting from taking gender on board can significantly contribute to improved policy making and for professional practices that better take into account everybody’s realities. While pioneering work in the transport field focused on women in transport, this lecture argues for a full integration of gender in all dimensions of transport research, including conceptual and methodological frameworks. The lecture presents some conceptual innovations and a critical analysis of taken for granted notions in the field of metropolitan transport. It argues for a full acknowledgment of the idea of a mobility of care, and for a reevaluation of current overarching uses of notions such as compulsory mobility, which should be limited to more restricted connotations. This would contribute to a needed rebalancing of care and employment as equally important topics for transport policy.

Propositions for addressing the issue

  1. Analyzing implicit gender assumptions in urban planning: gender roles and stereotypes in the building of contemporary planning practice and cities.
  2. Gender concepts relevant for city and transportation planning: care and unpaid work; sexual division of labor; double workload; gender roles and norms; safety and gender violence; intersectionality.
  3. Operational concepts relevant for urban and transportation planning: chain of tasks, daily life.
  4. Gender differences in transport: distances traveled, purpose of travel, modes of transportation, access to private cars, use of public transportation, number of trips, chained trips, spatial patterns of trips, geographical area covered, safety and ergonomy.
  5. Identifying gender bias and omissions in transport research and policy: care-related trips not counted -trips on foot of less than one km- and/or hidden under other headings -i.e. leisure, visits, strolling, personal trips, other.
  6. Explaining the umbrella concept "mobility of care", which encompasses all trips done for the purpose of caring for others and the maintenance of the household, how to measure it.
  7. Results of a specifically designed survey carried out in Madrid which shows the number of trips realized for the purpose of caring for others and maintenance of the house, (the mobility of care) is almost equal to those under the category employment.
  8. Implications for transportation policy and planning.


Inés Sánchez de Madariaga is a leading international expert on gender in city planning, architecture and STEM with extensive experience in both public policy and research. She is UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality Policies in Science, Technology and Innovation and Professor of Urban Planning at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid . She is member of AGGI, the Advisory Group on Gender Issues to UN-Habitat’s Executive Director. She is also a member of the Leadership Advisory Council of the Spanish UN-Sustainable Solutions Development Network and co-Chair of the General Assembly of Partners Research and Academia Group of the New Urban Agenda. She has been Chair of the international COST network Gender, Science, Technology and Environment, genderSTE; co-Director of the EU-US Gendered Innovations in Science, Health & Medicine, Engineering, and Environment. Member of the European Commission Helsinki Group on Gender in Research and Innovation. As Chair the EC Expert Group on Structural Change of Research Organizations, she played a key role in the negotiations to introduce gender as a central element of the EC research program Horizon 2020. She is/has been member of the Scientific Advisory Committees of the European projects Genport, Genovate, RRITools, Libra, Sagerip, GEDII, and PI of the EC FP7 projects Gender-Net and TRIGGER. She is an EC Urbact expert and a member of the Scientific Committee of the UNESCO global project to promote gender in science SAGA. She has held public office in Spain as Deputy Director General for Architecture, Advisor to the Minister of Housing, Advisor to the Minister of Science and Innovation, Director of the Women and Science Unit at the Cabinet of the Secretary of State for Research, Technology and Development.


Sánchez de Madariaga, Inés “The mobility of care. Introducing new concepts in urban transportation”, in Sánchez de Madariaga, Inés y Marion Roberts (eds.) Fair shared cities. The impact of gender planning in Europe. Ashgate, Aldershot-Nueva York, 2013.

Sánchez de Madariaga, Inés: “From women in transport to gender in transport. Challenging conceptual frameworks for improved policy making”, en The Gender Issue: Beyond Exclusion, special issue, Journal of International Affairs 67, 1, Columbia University, NY, pp. 43-66, 2013.

European Parliament.Turner, J.,Hamilton, K. and M. Spitzner.(2006): Women and Transport Report, European Parliament.

Grieco, M. and R. McQuaid (2012) Special issue Gender and transport: Transaction costs, competing claims and transport policy gaps, Research in Transportation Economics, 34(1) p. 1-86.

Transportation Research Board (2004, 2009): Research on Women’s Issues in Transportation Conference, Report of conference proceedings, TRB, Washington, D.C.

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