Just and Sustainable Mobility Transition in the Transport Sector: A Conceptual Framework and Gender-Mainstreaming Case Studies

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Decades of prioritization of roadways in global transportation infrastructure investments has over-emphasized designing one-size-fits-all public transit systems, resulting in widespread inequities in access, affordability, and reliability of transport options. These inequities have disproportionately impacted women, elderly minorities, and low-income communities. This publication highlights a just and sustainable mobility transition framework for transport practitioners and policymakers, with a focus on gender-mainstreaming considerations. With today's rapid global shift toward low-carbon transport, now is an opportune time to reimagine the world's transport systems through a holistic and sustainable approach, shifting to low- and zero-carbon modes and offering wider access to all segments of the population. Under the Strategic Transport Pillar of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Partnership, this report proposes a conceptual framework that may, in the long term, enable just and sustainable mobility transitions in the transport sector. This framework focuses on five key impact areas: (1) Gender-mainstreaming: Developing more gender-inclusive mobility options by focusing on the needs and priorities of women travelers, prioritizing safety and access to employment opportunities, and providing more reliable, affordable, and time-efficient transport options; (2) Equitable access: New approaches to urban transport that links up with rural access, developing connectivity and economic opportunities for emerging cities and communities in an integrated and holistic manner; (3) Improved health, safety, and environment: Designing transportation systems, including active and non-motorized modes and minimizing the health impacts of transportation, including air quality, road safety, and personal safety; (4) Optimized land use: Rethinking how highly urbanized cities sustainably expand and grow road infrastructure and integrate low-carbon transportation solutions with wider availability to geographically and economically diverse communities; (5) Economic and social inclusivity: Designing systems that create greater access and better first- and last-mile options for economically disadvantaged populations, with lower expenditures on transport as a percentage of income. These five key impact areas were developed to facilitate actions by policy/decision makers and practitioners to incorporate equity into low-carbon transportation projects and programs. While many holistic and integrated approaches can be considered within this broader framework, this publication will focus on local gender-mainstreaming solutions by showcasing two regional case studies - from South Asia (New Delhi, India) and Latin America (Hermosillo, Mexico) - that describe novel pilot projects for introducing gender-inclusive transport options that address local challenges. Key challenges faced by women relate to physical safety, economics, and environment. Both case studies represent innovative programmatic solutions that address safety and employment opportunities for women while simultaneously working toward decarbonizing the transport sector and demonstrating replicable and scalable opportunities. This publication also provides transport practitioners and policymakers with a compilation of key methodologies that can be adapted into new programs and initiatives that address gender-mainstreaming challenges (Section 4.0, Table 1). Proposed methodologies include generating gender-disaggregated travel data, efficient and safe first- and last-mile options, family fares for public transit, rethinking public transit for women's needs as caregivers, and inclusive road infrastructure, to name a few. These methodologies are aligned with regional needs, as showcased by those used in each case study. The USAID-NREL Partnership will continue to develop sustainable methodologies that foster gender-sensitive and human-centered designs for the transport sector.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-7A40-87449


  • gender
  • just energy transition
  • mobility
  • transportation
  • U.S. Agency for International Development
  • USAID-NREL Partnership


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