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Remarks at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, FIA Foundation reception for "She Moves Safely"
T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, PhD, MPH
Washington, DC
1/10/2018

I am honored to be here tonight with all of you.  I am glad to be here at the release of this important study “Ella Se Mueve Segura” or “She Moves Safely,” because it highlights the importance of women’s issues and the visibility of women. 

In the past, sometimes we have avoided talking about gender issues, perhaps because they were dismissed as “women’s issues” but also probably because, as transportation professionals, we were often focused on doing our work, focusing on the technical elements, discussing the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) or CO2 omissions or AIS (Abbreviated Injury Scale) scores.  We usually did not take time to discuss women specifically even though the influence of women is present in all areas of transportation and, indeed, in every aspect of our work and our lives.  It was just often invisible. But, now, we are in the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp.

It is the perfect time to remember that women have long been powerful forces in transportation, even if they were invisible forces.  Sheila (Watson) has eloquently spoken of why we should focus on women in transportation.  I would like to add that we should remember women have invented everything from the first windshield wiper to a carburetor to the insulation for spark plugs.  At the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent federal agency here in the United States, we are charged with investigating major transportation disasters in all modes.  In addition, at the NTSB, although it will come as no surprise, I am proud to say that women have made major contributions to every investigation we have conducted in recent years — as engineers, as mechanics, as data and research experts, as managers, as well as the founder of our transportation disaster assistance program. 

Almost 4 years ago, the FIA Foundation hosted an expert panel at the United Nations (UN) focused on “the impact of transportation on women’s lives.”  In fact, a few people in this room were even a part of it!  The panel was part of a large UN conference to take stock of the status of women around the world, but it was the ONLY event at the conference to highlight the importance of transportation to women’s lives.

The importance of transportation TO women  AND the importance of WOMEN to transportation.  I think no matter which way you look at it - these issues have been under the radar, essentially invisible, but not anymore.

For all of history, and in every field, women have been inventive and resourceful.  Perhaps, in large part, because they had to be.  Nevertheless, often, they also have been invisible.  Despite that, not only have women survived, they also have succeeded.  Women have been instrumental in advancing their fields and communities.

The Golden Globes launched the #TimesUp initiative to end sexual harassment.  But time’s up also for the invisibility of the contributions of women.  Time’s up for the invisibility of violence against women on public transportation and everywhere.  Time’s up for the invisibility of focusing on the safety of women in transportation.  As we all know, when transportation safety for women is more VISIBLE, it is better for children, it is better for older people, it is better for vulnerable populations, it is simply better for everyone.  Thank you to those of you who already are working to make this issue more visible and I am looking forward to being a part of this movement with ALL of you to bring women’s safety and women’s visibility to the forefront of transportation.  Thank you.