What inhibits the progress of early-career women in Karachi? Studying the effects of socio-spatial mobility barriers on women's employment

Sana Iqbal, Andree Woodcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: There is a widespread acceptance and shift towards sustainable, inclusive and smart mobility solutions around the world. However, in Karachi, poorly coordinated urban planning, lack of effective governance structure and investment in transport, has allowed the growth of an almost unregulated and ungovernable informal transport sector. Women are more severely affected by the poor service since men not only have more space allocated to them on public transport but also have the freedom to use alternative and cheaper private vehicles such as motorbikes and cycles. Poor representation of women in the transport sector further aggravates the situation.

OBJECTIVE: The paper aims to highlight the gender-disaggregated effects of poor transport design, provision and lack of personal agency on mobility, for emphasising the social and cultural attitudes faced by female employees. It argues that not integrating the gender-based disadvantages faced by women into planning, reinforces their disadvantaged position and force them to take complex trips.

METHODS: Scenario-based questions were designed for focus group discussion which covered not only the everyday mobility challenges but also their reactions to the potential solutions. For a gender-based comparative analysis, two separate focus group discussions were organised.

RESULTS: Adopting a sector-based mapping approach of the issues discussed in the groups helped understand the complexity of female user experience at various levels, starting from planning or discussing the trips with families, to making modal choices. It also helped to tease out the impact of these issues on their employment opportunities as early-career women.

CONCLUSION: The model proposed in this paper can help illustrate where changes can be made in the system considering the social aspects of transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages17
JournalWork: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation
Early online date17 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Feb 2023


  • Transport
  • complex trips
  • culture
  • decision-making
  • gender


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