Friday, March 09, 2012

Green light from the start:
Women drivers and eJeepneys
Red Constantino, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities
March 8, 2012 

Climate change is not just about crisis. It provides us an incredible opportunity to reassess the way we look at development. It forces us to rethink strategies and it gives us space to redesign the way we live our lives.
The electric jeepneys project was conceived by climate change activists not merely as a response to global warming but to present an array of working models that can be scaled up and replicated, and to trigger integrative approaches to development.
For starters, the electric jeepneys form a mere third of the project called Climate-Friendly Cities, which promotes the rechanneling of organic waste streams to waste facilities with biodigesters that promote decomposition, which produces gas that is in turn captured and fed to turbines that power an ever growing electric public utility vehicle fleet. A closed loop. A green loop.
On its own, the electric jeepneys project was also designed to address a bevy of issues. Because it is not enough to produce a smoke-free, noise-free public ride. When we crunched the numbers and crafted the architecture of our social enterprise, we had in mind fleet management models that would create multiple co-benefits:
·      Better tourism and better work place conditions for host cities due to reductions in air and noise pollution.
·      Higher income for ejeepney operators.
·      Energy security, protection from oil price volatility.
·      Jobs generation - allied green jobs - in the services (drivers and electric vehicle technicians) and manufacturing industries (for electric vehicles).
·      Drivers with regular pay and regular benefits, which means more stability for their families.
·      The promise of better traffic conditions, because salaried drivers no longer have any incentive to stop wherever they want to fill up their vehicle or disgorge passengers.
Most importantly, the eJeepneys project deliberately sought out and recruited women drivers.
Every day should be March 8, International women's day. Easy as this assertion sounds, its practice is far more difficult if initiatives do not build in gender concerns from a project's inception.
Women drivers form the core of iCSC's low emission vehicles agenda, because better technologies, and more efficient and sustainable means of transport, should be gender-neutral. A gender-sensitized project, on the other hand, requires the identification of specific demographics to whom benefits are to be channeled to.
Women remain the most economically, environmentally, socially, politically and culturally vulnerable sector in the Philippines. The eJeepneys project was drawn up in recognition of this facet and the opportunity it presented -- that climate-friendly green social enterprise can be of direct benefit to women, that men do not have any specific attributes that make them more atuned to the steering wheel, or the maintenance of low carbon vehicles.
If the objective is the creation of jobs, women must be at the center of the effort. Women are better managers of household income, and it is no stretch to say they can do this even better if they are also in a breadwinner position in the family.
We in iCSC have taken a proactive position on the gender issue in order to demonstrate our robust belief in the lasting changes that the climate crisis can engender. Solutions we craft today in response to climate change can recreate the social space through which our lives are lived.
Climate change provides us an incredible opportunity to drive home the gender equity agenda. It forces us to rethink development strategies that deliberately locate women in the driver's seat. #
Originally posted at the British Embassy in Manila website. Photo by iCSC, February 27, 2012. With thanks to Joan "Basta Driver, Sweet Lover" Meris standing on the foreground, hand on hip.

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