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Sonal Shah

2024 Fellow

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India

Focus Areas

Climate Action
Gender Equality & Women's Rights
Governance & Policy Reform

Sonal Shah is the founder of two organizations: The Urban Catalysts (www.theurbancatalysts.org) and Executive Director of Centre for Sustainable and Equitable Cities (www.c-sec.org). Her mission is to transform cities and transport to mitigate and adapt to climate change and to enable gender equity and universal access.

Shah has advised on incorporating a gender perspective in urban transport projects and programs, influencing investments of $9 billion and directly impacting 500,000 women and girls by 2027. She was responsible for introducing gender-responsive guidelines in India’s URDPFI guidelines—a first for the country—and was a key contributor to the urban street design guidelines for the Indian Roads Congress (2016-18).

Shah has led projects funded by FCDO, ADB, AfD, Bloomberg Philanthropies, GIZ, UN-Habitat, World Bank and worked across 10 states in India, South and Central Asia, East Africa, the Middle East, and the United States. She has been privileged to advise action-oriented research by feminist organizations, such as Jagori and Azad Foundation, been a Fulbright Scholarship juror, mentored Asia Foundation LeadNext Fellows, and be a member of the Main Bhi Dilli Campaign.

Shah was featured in the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative’s network of Remarkable Women in Transport 2020 and Remarkable Feminist Voices in Transport 2023 to recognize women change-makers in the sector. The Urban Catalysts was featured as a Remarkable Feminist Organization in Transport in 2023. She serves on the alumni board of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University.