Social Impact What snow clearing has to do with gender equality

In 2011, a misguided attempt by a public official in the Swedish city of Karlskoga to be funny led to the topic of snow clearing to become a political issue. A previously launched initiative was supposed to investigate whether and to what extent municipal measures contributed to gender equality. When it became clear that this would be a fairly comprehensive initiative, the official in question quipped that the “gender people” would hopefully at least keep their noses out of the topic of snow clearing. They didn’t, of course — and rightly so, as it turned out!  
 
Data from various cities showed that significantly more women than men use pavements and public transport. The reason: 75 percent of global paid and unpaid care work (in other words care, nursing and domestic work) is still done by women. This has an impact on these women travel: Dropping off children at school, grocery shopping, accompanying elderly people to the doctor — much of this would be impossible without pavements, busses and trams.

Day 1 after the snow chaos — somewhere in Zurich

The snow chaos of the past few days has also made visible in Zurich that people are affected differently by the current snow clearance prioritisation: While cars have been able to navigate the roads again without any issues, many tram lines have remained restricted, mothers struggle with their prams on icy footpaths and elderly people get their walks stuck in the snow. And even members of the Valeriana team have had to cancel assignments because the poor transport conditions have made it almost impossible for them to get around. 
 
Day 5 after the snow chaos — same place in Zurich
 
In Karlskoga, by the way, the findings ultimately led to pavements and public transport being cleared even before streets from now on. To this, we say “Grattis!” and hope that Switzerland, too, will soon follow suit and clear the way for true gender equality! 
 
PS: The information contained in this story comes from the article “Invisible Women: Is snow clearing sexist?”, published recently on the website sheconomy.at, which is very much worth reading. The basis for the article is the book “Invisible Women” by British activist and author Caroline Criado Perez, in which she deals with the so-called “Gender Data Gap”. We think that it makes for a very exciting read, especially while snowed in at home! 


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