Tuesday 20

Gender in RRI and Sustainable Development

Posted by RRI Tools on 20 Sep 2016

In September 2015 the United Nations adopted 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), one of which is gender equality (SDG 5). This goal recognizes that gender equality and the empowerment of women are crucial to sustainable development. We at the RRI Tools project know that these objectives are also essential to RRI. However, Inés Sánchez de Madariaga claims that, even though most of the UN’s other 16 SDGs also have gender dimensions, their gender-related aspects have not been “properly addressed”.

Inés Sánchez de Madariaga, the UNESCO chair on Gender, Science, Technology and Innovation at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, has been actively studying and promoting gender equality in sustainable development for almost 20 years. Speaking at RRI Tools’ second Train the Trainers workshop in July at CosmoCaixa Barcelona, she highlighted recent policy discussions and achievements occurring in the run-up to the UN’s Habitat III Conference on sustainable urban development taking place in October in Quito, Ecuador.

Many of these discussions involve development of the New Urban Agenda for Habitat III. Stakeholders, including gender experts and women’s groups, have inserted strong, gender-related specifications for sustainable urban development. But, similar to her criticism of the UN’s goals, Sánchez de Madariaga said those specifications are being watered down as member states negotiate the agenda’s content.

Despite this, Sánchez de Madariaga reported that, among all of the stakeholders, experts in gender and women’s issues have been very effective. This is due to the wealth of research on gender-related topics, such as how gender roles affect people’s needs in cities.

For example, in her recent analysis of urban transportation in Spain, one of the Inspiring Practices available in the RRI Toolkit, Sánchez de Madariaga found that women were using public transportation for different reasons than men, who used it largely for commuting between work and home. Women often used public transportation throughout the day for “care” activities, such as shopping for the household, visiting the elderly or sick, and accompanying family members to appointments. She called this the “mobility of care”.

Her analysis showed that public transportation was being used for care-related activities for the home and family almost as much as it was for work. And this mobility was “mostly women’s mobility”. Labelling the “mobility of care” – and thus making it visible – Sánchez de Madariaga said, “allows for a better understanding of the travel that people do in a metropolitan area, from a gender perspective.”

As policy discussions on sustainable development continue, it is important for stakeholders to consider gendered differences in the ways people move around in cities and how they use municipal resources. One such opportunity is genderSTE's upcoming Engendering Habitat III conference in Madrid, Spain (5–6 October). “Gender is the cornerstone” for the sustainable development agenda as well as for Responsible Research and Innovation, Sánchez de Madariaga insisted during an interview for the RRI Tools project. If gender issues are addressed – in terms of participation, decision making, and considering the different realities experienced by women and men – then other aspects of RRI and sustainable development will follow more easily.

You can find Sánchez de Madariaga’s presentation on our SlideShare Channel.

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