There needs to be more consideration of the level of authority and decision making women have in infrastructure

Suharto S. Wahab is an environmental planner, real estate broker and appraiser from the Philippines. He has recently completed the 3-month short course Sustainable Urban Development (SUD) with specialisation in Urban Land Governance for Sustainable Development. He has received diplomas from the University of the Philippines in Urban & Regional Planning and Land Valuation & Management.

He currently works at the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) as Chief Administrative Officer, where he deals with human resource management and development. He discusses his motivation to join the Gender in Urban Theory, Practice and Research elective:

‘I am confronted with various gender issues both in and out of the workplace, which was my main consideration in triggering me to participate in the course.’

He explains the importance of recognising and deconstructing gender roles, particularly within a working, corporate environment. He argues that the number of women in an organisation is not the key indicator to consider in the push for gender equality, but that there must also be attention given to the role they play and the level of authority and decision making they have.

‘I encourage the top management (within my job) to have all our infrastructure projects to be gender responsive in accordance with the needs of the vulnerable members of the community; particularly women, children, people with different needs and the elderly.’

With particular reference to his job at the MPW in the Philippines, he discusses the significant role women engineers played in several recent projects. Despite the risk in implementation due to armed conflict in the area and the Covid-19 pandemic, he discusses how their hard work and dedication contributed greatly to the effective, efficient and responsive delivery of quality infrastructure facilities and services.

Suharto continues to explore the importance of achieving gender equality within his work, stressing the need to consider wider social structures when implementing gender mainstreaming in urban development:

‘Gender mainstreaming in infrastructure development cannot be fully attained without due consideration of the implications and impacts on social, economic and political aspects.’