5 min

Femmes en Mouvement : the place of women in mobility

Today, despite efforts, women are still under-represented and excluded from positions of high responsibility. In fact, today in France, only 14 women out of 120 CEO from FT120 hold an Executive Director position. And this figure is not improving in the mobility sector… On the occasion of International Women’s Rights Day on 8 March, we wanted to highlight an association whose mission is to promote “women in mobility and the mobility of women”. Focus on “Femmes en Mouvement”, the French women’s professional network that brings together professionals and experts in transport and mobility.

The first steps of the association

It all began in 2015 with a simple observation: the absence of women at the podium of conferences related to mobility and transport. However, there are many talented women in this rapidly changing sector. They are also aware that their experience and their voices are indispensable for building the world of tomorrow. This is how Marie-Xavière Wauquiez, Elisabeth Oger, Marie Stéphan, Nathalie Ancelin, Véronique Haché, Claire Gervais and Pauline Depoorter got together and organised the first world conference on mobility with 100% female speakers. The first edition is a real success. The machine was set in motion and the association Femmes en Mouvement was born.

Firstly, the primary aim of this organisation is to highlight women in mobility & women’s mobility. Indeed, Femmes en Mouvement wants to strengthen the representation of women in the mobility sector at all levels. For them, it is fundamental that women’s views and experiences are taken into account. They also want to promote and accelerate the development of more inclusive mobility solutions. “Because a mobility solution designed for women will also be suitable for men, when the opposite is not true. Finally, they aim to increase the visibility of women in the sector by creating a real transversal inter-organisational network to promote women’s careers in the transport sector.

Some prestigious collaborations…

To achieve its objectives, Femmes en Mouvement collaborates with other organizations and partners. The aim is to strengthen the impact of its actions and pursue its mission. From the head of Montreal’s bus fleet to a former European Commissioner, via the president of RATP Dev, many experts support their cause and participate in their events… Most recently, Clément Beaune, Minister of Transport, signed the Femmes en Mouvement manifesto and had his ministry join their professional network. The organization’s approach is based on listening, empathy, energy and empowerment so that no one is left by the wayside. Indeed, the women behind Femmes en Mouvement contribute to a sustainable transformation of our society by carrying values of ecology, gender and diversity…

Some actions implemented

Raising awareness with “Vélodacieuses”

The “Vélodacieuse” action emerged from the president Marie-Xavière Wauquiez during a board meeting. Indeed, she has been cycling to work for many years and started from a simple observation:

It takes courage to dare to ride a bike when you are a woman. Especially as autumn approaches, when the lighting is not always adequate and the weather conditions deteriorate, not to mention getting stuck in the traffic of dense cities.

Marie-Xavière Wauquiez, President and co-founder of Femmes en Mouvement

According to her, it was therefore high time to make political decision-makers aware of current issues. The principle of “Vélodacieuse” is to get a candidate (or one of his or her representatives) in the municipal elections to make a classic journey by bicycle, such as home to work, during rush hour. In this way, they could see which facilities work well and which do not for journeys made by bicycle. The aim of this action is also to express feelings: those of women of various ages, on bicycles, in public space. These exchanges make it possible to discuss the physical, social and cultural barriers that limit women’s use of bicycles. Several “Vélodacieuses” operations took place in early 2020 in the run-up to the municipal elections, some of which were the subject of detailed articles and ideas for the future.

A prestigious award

Femmes en Mouvement also initiated the Gender Award in partnership with the magazine Ville, Rail et Transports (VRT) and the support of Transdev and Cyclable. In December 2019, Femmes en Mouvement has the honour of chairing the jury of the 28th VRT Mobility Awards. In awarding the prize for modernisation to Keolis Bordeaux, Marie-Xavière Wauquiez, President of Femmes en Mouvement, points out the low gender balance of the panels of speakers and of the assembly in general. She proposed to enrich the VRT Mobility Awards with a gender award. The idea was enthusiastically welcomed by Ville, Rail et Transports. And it is the financial support of Transdev and Cyclable that will make the project possible. The last diversity prize was awarded on 6 December at the 31ᵉ Palmarès des mobilités 2022, with SNCF Mixité as the winner with its Optimixte diagnostic tool.

© Femmes en Mouvement

Transport au féminin, the female experience of transport among young people

Femmes en Mouvement is convinced that taking into account women’s experience is a prerequisite for successfully building the world of tomorrow. The TAF (Transport au Féminin) operation aims to pass on these experiences to young women in the process of educational and professional orientation. Femmes en Mouvement organises physical and digital meetings between young women from the Rêv’Elles association and women who are passionate about transport. The Rêv’Elles association inspires, motivates and accompanies young women from working class neighbourhoods in their personal and professional development.

Monthly aperitifs to free speech

Once a month, Femmes en Mouvement invites a woman with an exceptional background to an engaging aperitif open to all. The principle of these aperitifs: Femmes en Mouvement supporters and members meet in a pleasant place to have a drink, discuss and get to know each other better… In other words, they help to create an inter-company mobility network! The aim is to highlight little-known topics and mobility professions. But also to raise awareness of today’s social phenomena, such as the insecurity of women in transport.

A game of “7 families” for women and mobility

One of the first actions carried out by the Femmes en Mouvement teams is the adaptation of the 7 families game. Indeed, they propose a version “Women in mobility”, with the following 7 families: Public Transport, Cycling, Rail Transport, Logistics, Air-Sea and Space, and Land Use and Public Policy.

The aim? To change the way people look at transport jobs, to show that all jobs in this sector are accessible and to encourage women to get involved. Truck drivers, mechanics, engineers, handlers… No matter which profession is considered masculine, women also have their place. Finally, if you want to buy the game, it’s very simple, just go to the Femmes en Mouvement website.

© Femmes en Mouvement

What future for Femmes en Mouvement ?

Today, the association is at a rather crucial moment. For the first time, it has financial means at its disposal. No more activities with two bits of string, now the projects are more ambitious. They would like to push their usual format. To go even further than the monthly aperitifs… They would like to organise round tables to bring together and get several professionals to talk at the same time. Indeed, Femmes en Mouvement often organises webinars in partnership with the association Rêv’Elles, which works with young girls from priority neighbourhoods. Subsequently, the aim would be to have these events sponsored and focused on specific themes.

The sponsorship is not so that we can make money, but so that we can make formats that are better edited, more pleasant to watch on replay and with a more professional look. We really want this to make women want to work in these professions.

Marie-Xavière Wauquiez, President and co-founder of Femmes en mouvement

Finally, a last subject is under discussion within the association… One of the members would like to work on the mobilisation of senior women. This is an interesting subject when we know that after a certain age, women disappear, even though they are even more fragile, even more in need of attention and many of them live a long time. It is a safe bet that Femmes en Mouvement will not be stopping anytime soon.