Lightning Talk | Main Stage
Host: UN SDG Action Campaign
For centuries, our infrastructure has been built by men, for men. Unlit roads and unsafe public transport have meant women miss out on school or work. Hospitals without adequate maternal wards have led to many a preventable death. Even in progressive European cities, long queues outside of toilets in public spaces serve as a daily reminder that the battle for gender equality is far from over. Designing and implementing infrastructure, without considering the needs of users has created and perpetuated inequalities. Men – of the privileged type- have called the shots – and the impact of their gender-blind decisions over our infrastructure has hindered women and girls from achieving their full potential. COVID-19 has further magnified this: It has exacerbated women’s time poverty by adding to their already high levels of unpaid work. It has limited women’s access to sexual and reproductive rights. And it has led to a significant rise in gender-based violence globally. Digital technology has helped ensure some continuity during the pandemic, yet the gender digital gap means women have less access to education, health or financial services. Across the world, women constitute 70% of all frontline healthcare staff. But even the PPE they consume has been designed for men, risking their lives. Yet this pandemic has also reminded us of the power of female leadership. Women leaders have handled the crisis with clarity, compassion and inclusiveness. Despite this success, there are too few women in key decision making roles.
The message here is simple: involve women, and you have more representative and fair decisions. Leave them out, and you have decisions that fail half of the world’s population.
To build infrastructure that serves us all, women need to be involved, at all levels, in all aspects of infrastructure projects, from planning and policy, to implementation and management.
To build a better future for all, we need everyone at the table. Not just half of the world.