Every public space has been designed thinking about what men needed and used to do when participating in the public sphere.
Our societies have changed, our cities not.
Our cities, are they gender-neutral?
Gender-neutral cities are not shaped by or in the interest of a particular sex. We assume that both sexes are included equally in the urban planning process, and also affected equally by various urban problems. However, in reality, what is ‘gender-neutral’ usually has a male perspective and is in men’s interest. Women’s issues and perspectives are not taken into account and they are affected differently, and also disproportionately, by urban problems.
When planning our cities to be inclusive, it can’t be reduced to street lighting or a gender balance of names of public spaces nor the number of women architects working in design forms. Yes, representation is more than necessary; it has a direct effect upon the urban form of our cities. But we need more, we need women to be given the opportunity to lead in different ways.
Women who bear the impact of the location of public transports stops since they spend more time traveling and prefer public transport to do so. Women who come from disadvantaged backgrounds living in insecure neighbourhoods, commuting more likely in the late or early hours. Women who need ramps for wheelchairs or zigzagging through the city with buggies. Women who fear physical or sexual violence in public space for whatever reason they are out there. Women who complain about a lack of public bathrooms since statistically they have a higher chance of wanting to use one, are on their menstrual cycle or have children with them. This is why it is important to tackle this issue!
Through gender mainstreaming we aim to contribute to more inclusion of our public spaces. An obvious aim since women and girls make up half of the urban population, do more than half the work, do the majority of care work, and are often subjected to sexual and gender-base violence. The exclusion of women from urban planning means that women's daily lives and perspectives do not shape urban form and function. In other words, city planning overlooks the specific challenges and concerns that women and girls face. This underlines the fact that the city is not inclusive and equitable in its design, infrastructure, facilites and services.
If we want more equal, just and safe urban spaces, gender mainstreaming, we need gender mainstreaming!
One can’t solve problems, ignoring more than
half of the population.
>> Gender Equality for Smarter Cities
>> Towards a more gender-balanced urban policy
>> Women in cities as key players in tackling issues
This long long-term mobilisation of different actors and the bottom-up strategy questions and activates those who benefit most from a more gender-balanced urban policy.
We come together,
we share ideas,
we develop tactics,
and end with a unified vision towards the outlines of the women-led city.