Women Climate Action

Inspire. Mobilise. Act.

Interview with Gabriela Cob, Project Director

Gabriela Cob is Director of PEDAL, an organization dedicated to sustainable mobility. In 2018, Gabriela launched the project called “Santa Ana en Cleta” (Santa Ana by bike) with the Municipality of Santa Ana, Costa Rica, to promote the use of bicycles in the city. Her project won the Smart Cities prize (category “Mobility”) organized by Le Monde newspaper and was selected among 15 cities for the 2018 Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation. Gabriela tells us more about her work and how the promotion of biking can lead to women empowerment.

Women Climate Action: Gabriela, you are currently Director of PEDAL and an expert in mobility. Could you tell us a few words about your background ?

Gabriela COB : All of this started when I fell in love with feminism, I was at the beginning of my psychology career and had the good fortune to be invited to a feminist organization meeting to participate with a group of young women. Right away I learned about the meaning of the Feminist struggle, I decided to continue studying, training and understanding how the real change to achieve fairer societies cannot be without the fullness of the rights of half the population: women.

Ten years ago, I met my wonderful mentor Mr. Carlos Macaya (qpd) who taught me about mobility and road safety, now we share the same passions, along with human rights and social justice. We both agree that all this must be built on the streets (vial infrastructure) and among people.

Yo empecé en todo esto cuando me enamoré del feminismo, cuando estaba empezando a estudiar psicología tuve la buena fortuna de conocer a una organización feminista a la cual me invitaron a participar en el grupo de mujeres jóvenes, cuando comencé a conocer todo el significado de la lucha feminista segui, segui y segui estudiando, formándome y comprendiendo cómo el verdadero cambio para lograr sociedades más justas no puede ser sin la plenitud de los derechos de la mitad de la población: las mujeres.

Tiempo después, hace 10 años conocí a mi maravilloso mentor don Carlos Macaya (qpd) quien me enseñó los apasionantes temas de la movilidad y la seguridad vial y su relación intrínseca con los derechos humanos y la justicia social que debe construirse en las calles (infraestructura vial) y entre las personas.

WCA: You are one of the founders of the “Santa Ana en Cleta” project in Costa Rica, that aims at developing the use of bikes by women. Can you explain us the origins and the main characteristics of this project?

G.C: This project is wonderful because it combines feminism, the struggle of women for their rights and the bicycle, a vehicle and liberating tool that allows us to move wherever we want. I had been collaborating ad honorem with the commission of women in the Municipality of my County together with my partner councilor Norma Solís. She got a small budget to do some projects for the women of the community. I had been analyzing the existing gap with respect to women using the bicycle less than men. Then I proposed to buy 20 bicycles and provide at least 3 workshops on empowerment and teaching of the use of bicycles to the women of Santa Ana.

Este proyecto es maravilloso porque combina el feminismo, la lucha de las mujeres por sus derechos y la bicicleta, un vehículo y herramienta liberadora que nos permite movernos a donde queramos. Yo venía colaborando ad honorem con la comisión de la mujer en la Municipalidad de mi cantón junto con mi compañera de luchas, la regidora Norma Solís. Ella consiguió un pequeño presupuesto para hacer algún proyecto para las mujeres de la comunidad. Yo venía analizando la brecha existente con respecto a que las mujeres usan menos la bicicleta que los hombres. Entonces le propuse comprar 20 bicicletas y brindar al menos 3 talleres de empoderamiento y enseñanza del uso de la bicicleta a las mujeres de Santa Ana.

WCA: Are women more reluctant to use bikes? If yes, what are the main reasons?

G.C: Women are reluctant to use bikes, since unfortunately women in Latin America experience a lot of violence and harassment in public spaces. It is also a fact that our families give us less opportunities and motivation in order to exercise independent and anonymous transportation. All these facts added to the lack of safe infrastructure and dangerous conditions, as well as lack of safety in any means of transportation, resulting in discouraged women.

Another important fact that we must also take into account is that most women are in charge of the care work, which often means that they must bear their babies, girls, boys, multiple burdens (food, clothing, household products, among other things) that they must carry or buy when travelling, which makes it more difficult to use a bicycle if it is not adapted to carrying other people and things.

Las mujeres en Latinoamérica experimentamos desgraciadamente mucho violencia y acoso en el espacio público, sumado a que nuestras familias nos dan menos oportunidades y motivación para que nos movilizemos de manera independiente y autónoma. Si a esto le agregamos también que nuestras calles no tienen las condiciones de infraestructura y por el contrario son peligrosas para desplazarse de manera segura en cualquier medio de transporte, eso desalienta aún más que las mujeres se animen a usarla. Pero la cosa no termina ahí, también debemos de tomar en cuenta que las mujeres en su mayoría tienen a su cargo las labores de cuido lo que muchas veces significa que deben de cargar con sus bebés, niñas, niños, personas dependientes, múltiples cargas (de alimentos, ropa, productos para la casa, entre otras cosas) que deben llevar o comprar en sus desplazamientos, lo que hace más difícil el uso de una bicicleta si no está adaptada para cargas otras personas y cosas.

WCA: We have discussed about biking and women as users. More generally, to what extent women can make a difference in climate policies in your opinion?

G.C: Women are definitely agents of change in their communities, if women start using the bicycle as a means of transportation, a means of recreation and even for leisure their families will also start incorporate it as well. Along with this process our local and national governments will be forced to enhance and invest in improving the conditions for the safe transportation of people.

Those who drive motorized vehicles will have to share the roads, having no choice but to be more alert and careful of the speed and the way they drive, resulting in the beginning of lowering the percentages of risk and road accidents. Reducing the use of motorized vehicles has all kinds of advantages, such as less pollution in our cities, decreasing the amount of time lost in traffic , and less resources spent due to respiratory illnesses and traffic accidents.

Las mujeres definitivamente son agentes de cambio en sus comunidades, si las mujeres empiezan a utilizar la bicicleta como medio de transporte, medio para su recreación e incluso para su ocio. También sus familias empezarán a contagiarse de este cambio. Con este proceso nuestros gobiernos locales y nacionales se verán forzados o presionados a mejorar e invertir en mejorar las condiciones para el desplazamiento seguro de las personas. A quienes conducen vehículos motorizados les tocará compartir las vías y estar más alertas y cuidadosos de la velocidad y la forma en que manejan y con esto empezaremos a bajar los porcentajes de riesgos y siniestros viales. Es una medida que tiene muchisimas ventajas de todo tipo para disminuir el uso de vehículos motorizados, con esto disminuye la contaminación en nuestras ciudades, disminuye la cantidad de tiempo perdido en presas, a bajar el uso del sistema de salud por enfermedades respiratorias y por siniestros viales.

Many thanks Gabriela for this interview!

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This entry was posted on 18/05/2020 by in They act for climate change, Uncategorized.
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