Transit Data

Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative fills the gender data gap in Nairobi, Lagos, and Gauteng with data from WhereIsMyTransport


Gender-specific needs are rarely considered in public transport due, in part, to a lack of data. In emerging markets, where mobility data is already hard to come by, obtaining gender-disaggregated data is even more challenging. WhereIsMyTransport worked with the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) to overcome this, undertaking a large-scale data collection project in Nairobi, Lagos, and Gauteng. Data will be made available through the TUMI Mobility Hub, helping bridge the gender data gap.

The challenge

Most women experience safety and accessibility concerns over public transport. Despite the increasing numbers of women relying on public transport, and the general understanding that transport is not gender neutral, women still make calculations daily on how to reach their destinations: What is the safest way to the bus stop? Will I be able to bring my child? Can I walk home on my own when it is dark? Will the driver of this vehicle assist me if anything happens?

Gender-specific needs are rarely integrated into the design, planning, and operation of public transport. Why? Due to a lack of useful data.

“Lack of safety is largely due to [public transport’s] operative systems being gender blind. This places a risk on women’s mobility and results in them, and other vulnerable groups, being subjected to petty crime, violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.” - Zanele Mabaso, Gender and Policy Advisor

Obtaining gender-disaggregated data on public transport dynamics is a challenge in emerging markets, where mobility data can already be hard to come by. Revealing the more nuanced truths of women public transport users benefits from both qualitative and quantitative methodologies—an approach that brings a richness to the ‘percentage findings’ traditionally obtained through surveys and more granular insights into a the decision-making stages of a journey.

The Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) were looking for a partner to overcome these challenges; a partner working in field in emerging markets, experienced in innovative data collection methodologies, and with a deep understanding of informal public transport. And, equally importantly, an organisation that cared about accessible and inclusive public transport, and filling data gaps.

Enter WhereIsMyTransport.

"WhereIsMyTransport develops innovative and sophisticated research solutions. In addition to the logistical and technical handling of data production, the precise consideration and analysis of socio-cultural aspects, especially in relation to sensitive issues and experiences, is particularly impressive." - Leonie Guskowski, GIZ

A pioneering data collection initiative

WhereIsMyTransport worked with TUMI to overcome the challenges of gender-disaggregated data collection in emerging markets, undertaking a large-scale project in three major cities: Nairobi, Kenya; Lagos, Nigeria; and Gauteng, South Africa.

Building on our extensive data production experience and research learnings from these three city regions, our comparative methodology employed experiential and ethnographic research to unearth deeper insights on the motivations and decision-making of women using public transport. We sharpened our focus for this project, honing in on the wider experiences of women’s journeys, from the first to the last mile.

This pioneering project ultimately decoded women’s mobility experiences, and we developed a novel and adaptive methodology that can be replicated across African cities and scaled to other regions, by TUMI or other partners.

"The mixed-method approach in this project benefited from WhereIsMyTransport's collaborative approach, transparent and trusting communication, and the deployment of interdisciplinary approaches." - Leonie Guskowski, GIZ

Over 400 people took part in the data collection process, which included a variety of methodologies to ensure that we were listening in as many forms as possible:

  • Online and in-person surveys
  • Focus-group discussions
  • Ride-alongs, where we joined a public transport user on their journey
  • Journey mapping workshops, where participants created a typical public transport journey together

This user-centric approach was instrumental in revealing the specifics of the lived experience and helped to surface the voices of women participants.

Designed for on-the-ground research, local researchers played a critical role in ensuring that our methodology was sensitive to cultural norms. An all-women team worked in local languages, with sensitivity to discussions on gender-based violence and harassment.

Download the report


The study aimed to showcase novel ways of collecting gender-sensitive data, to encourage decision-makers and other practitioners to think differently about creating an evidence-base that can diagnose pain points and catalyse informed action plans around women’s experiences of public transport.

“TUMI is supporting cities around the world to build this accurate database by developing replicable methodologies for gender-sensitive mobility data collection, together with partners such as WhereIsMyTransport.” - Leonie Guskowski, GIZ

Across the world, there is room for greater participation when designing and improving urban assets, helping to create cities that are inclusive of women’s needs. Central to this is understanding that women are not a single homogenous group. Their public transport experience will vary depending on occupation, household structure, income levels, and age, for example.

Our findings included:

  • In all three regions, women mostly used public transport for work travel, but also for caregiving, household maintenance, running errands, and taking children to school.
  • 28% of survey respondents in Nairobi noted infrastructure investments like wider roads, CCTV cameras inside matatus, and more accessible bus stops as key for improving public transport.
  • 52% of respondents in Lagos indicated being dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied with public transport, with only 3% expressing satisfaction. The main reason? The high cost of public transport.
  • 55% of women surveyed in Gauteng explained that incidents of harassment took place at a public transport station, while 45% reported having experienced an incident in a bus, train or taxi.

Download the report


The ambition is that this research, and the resulting data, will help voices get heard, fueling positive change in emerging-market cities through a deeper understanding of how women experience public transport.

All data collected will be made available through the TUMI Mobility Hub, an upcoming initiative that aims to provide access to quantitative and qualitative mobility data for all cities across the globe, helping bridge the gender data gap.

“Creating a gender-sensitive database on mobility needs will enable African cities to mainstream a new type of evidence in decision-making and to create more inclusive urban hubs.” - Leonie Guskowski, GIZ

About TUMI

TUMI is the leading global implementation initiative on sustainable mobility. TUMI supports transport projects all around the world and enables policy makers to transform urban mobility.

Book a meeting with WhereIsMyTransport

Explore more case studies

By using this website you agree to our privacy and cookie policy