THE BLOG
03/05/2018 11:36 EST | Updated 03/05/2018 11:36 EST

Women Leaders Are Building The Sustainable Cities Of Tomorrow

Women who are improving their cities for the benefit of all citizens create great hope for bold climate action in the years ahead.

As Mayor of Vancouver, I'm proud to support our Women's Equity Strategy 2018-2028, approved by Vancouver's City Council in January.

At the heart of this strategy is the belief that "women's inequality is an issue that affects us all. We cannot reach our full potential as a city when some community members are marginalized and denied full inclusion and participation. We know that women's inclusion boosts our economy, increases our productivity, and reduces child poverty."

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Vancouver SkyTrain.

This month I travel to Mexico City for the second C40 Women4Climate Conference, to meet with fellow mayors and share how Vancouver's bold climate action plan goes hand in hand with our goal to support and empower women in our city and around the world.

Across housing, childcare, policing, public safety and leadership, our ambition is to make Vancouver a model for gender-inclusive cities. Similarly, we aspire to be amongst the leading cities in the world for ambitious climate action. It's increasingly clear that these two big goals are not only mutually supportive, but that we cannot achieve one without the other. That's why C40's Women4Climate initiative is so important for everybody who is concerned with the future of our cities.

The number of women using active transportation is now being used as an indicator of the quality of a city's infrastructure.

Take public transport, for example. Across North America, from Vancouver's Skytrain, to Mexico City's Metro and Metrobus and the New York City Subway, more women are riding trains and buses through our cities. The majority of commuters on Vancouver's transit system are women. The city and our regional transit authority TransLink are committed to building transportation infrastructure that ensures that transit, walking, and cycling trips are safe, reliable and sustainable.

When we made major improvements to walking and biking infrastructure over three years, the number of cycling trips by women and girls nearly doubled, while the number of walking trips increased 25 per cent. The number of women using active transportation is now being used as an indicator of the quality of a city's infrastructure. Vancouver is committed to continuing to improve this infrastructure and making it accessible for all ages, genders and abilities.

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A woman rides a bicycle along the Vancouver waterfront.

In October 2017, I was proud to join pioneering leaders from 11 global cities who are committed to the C40 Fossil Fuel Free Streets Declaration. Vancouver, along with Mexico City, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Quito, Milan, Seattle, Auckland and Cape Town, will procure only zero-emission buses from 2025 and ensure a major area of our city is zero emission by 2030.

These commitments help us achieve our aggressive pollution reduction goals, and ensure we remain a global leader on climate action. It will also help ensure Vancouver is a great place to live for people of all genders and backgrounds. By reducing toxic air pollution from cars and increasing the number of journeys that are taken on foot or by bike, Vancouver's streets will become safer, healthier and more welcoming to all of our citizens.

Women remain in the minority of those designing and operating our mass transit systems. That needs to change.

To create the sustainable, inclusive and safe transportion systems that our citizens expect, we need to support more women in leadership roles. According to Harvard Business Review, "Women make up 20 per cent of engineering graduates, but it's been estimated that nearly 40 per cent of women who earn engineering degrees either quit or never enter the profession."

This has consequences for how transit, infrastructure, parks and public spaces in our cities are planned and operated. Despite representing the majority of transit users, women remain in the minority of those designing and operating our mass transit systems. That needs to change.

Women who are improving their cities for the benefit of all citizens create great hope for bold climate action in the years ahead. From Vancouver to Mexico City and in cities around the world, there is an unstoppable movement underway. Women leaders have already begun to transform the way we move around our cities, the air that we breathe and the future of our communities. I am inspired to work alongside them.

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