Youth Transport, Mobility, and Security in Sub-Saharan Africa - The Gendered Journey to School


Porter, Gina, Kate Hampshire, Albert Abane, Alister Munthali, Elsbeth Robson, Mac Mashiri, and Augustine Tanle. 2009. “Youth Transport, Mobility, and Security in Sub-Saharan Africa - The Gendered Journey to School.” In Women’s Issues in Transportation - Summary of the 4th International Conference. Vol. 2. Irvine, California: Transportation Research Board.

Authors: Gina Porter, Kate Hampshire, Albert Abane, Alister Munthali, Elsbeth Robson, Mac Mashiri, Augustine Tanle


This paper draws on empirical data from a three-country (Ghana, Malawi, and South Africa) study of young people’s mobility to explore the gendered nature of children’s journeys to school in sub-Saharan Africa. Gender differences in school enrollment and attendance in Africa are well established: education statistics in many countries indicate that girls’ participation in formal education is often substantially lower than boys’, especially at the secondary school level. Transport and mobility issues commonly form an important component of this story, though the precise patterning of the transportation and mobility constraints experienced by girls and the ways in which transport factors interact with other constraints vary from region to region. In some contexts, the journey to school represents a particularly hazardous enterprise for girls because they face a serious threat of rape. In other cases, girls’ journeys to school and school attendance are hampered by Africa’s transport gap and by cultural conventions that require females to be responsible for pedestrian head loading (transporting loads such as food crops or fuel on the head) and other work before leaving for, or instead of attending, school. evidence comes from a diverse range of sources, but the data used here are principally drawn from a survey questionnaire conducted with approximately 1,000 children ages 7 to 18 years across eight sites in each country. The aim of this study is to draw attention to the diversity of gendered travel experiences across geographical locations (paying attention to associated patterns of transport provision); to explore the implications of these findings for access to education; and to suggest areas in which policy intervention could be beneficial.

Topics: Age, Youth, Education, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender Roles, Infrastructure, Transportation Regions: Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Ghana, Malawi, South Africa

Year: 2009

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