Cities around the world are making their ecosystems gender sensitive and encouraging more women to participate in the social-political sphere. Cities in the many developing countries have taken admirable initiatives to bring women at the forefront through promoting their role in urban planning, local leadership, decision making and city management. Safety is not the only issue for women in cities as there are numerous issues women face in a city while going to work, schools or running errands
Many European, American and Canadian cities such as Geneva, Vienna, Berlin, Madrid, Ottawa and New York have taken lead in implementing gender-sensitive projects and programs. In the last couple of years, for example, the City of Geneva has made gender equality a political priority. According to a report by the New Cities Organisation, one of the objectives is to fight gender stereotypes and the reproduction of inequalities. Every year, the City develops initiatives to engage citizens, for example, the Geneva Equality Week with the aim of taking an original look at a theme by examining it from a gender perspective and equality between women and men. An awareness campaign “equality, the city shows its will” is presented every year around June 14, an important date for equality between women and men in Switzerland. In terms of services and facilities provided to women, the city has improved its infrastructure and services. The number of spaces available in nurseries in Geneva has indeed more than doubled. According to official data, the city currently meets 82 per cent of parents’ nursery requests, and the City’s ambition is to meet 95 per cent of these requests by 2020. Moreover, nurseries have become places of enlightenment, education, prevention and social cohesion. They have a crucial role to play in the fight against gender stereotypes.
Indian cities those are evolving as corporate hubs can think in that direction. Why cannot Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and other big cities develop such facilities? This is
City planners and managers need to take in to account the needs of women while planning a public place or any facility for citizens. Women face major difficulties in poorly managed sidewalks and pathways when using strollers. Women and men use the city’s infrastructure, mass transit and public places differently. Though, the rationale is not to stereotype gender roles by referring women take care of children but in reality, a majority of them do so. Public transit systems, public places and the built environment in a city must be planned to provide better accessibility, convenience, safety to women and girls.
Public transport, public places & the city environment must be planned to provide better accessibility, convenience, and safety to women and girls
The inequality among men and women still exist in multiple forms. A survey ‘Mapping the Sexism of City Streets Name’ conducted by Aruna Shankarnarayanan and his team at Mapbox in seven major metropolia of the world (London, Paris, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, San Francisco, and Chennai) reveals that only 27.5 per cent of the streets were named after women. This is evident that the ratio will go down further if the survey is conducted in Tier-I and II cities. However, the trend is changing and some leading feminism groups advocated for
Roadmap to achieve gender equality
The United Nations came up with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 for the betterment of humanity. Out of the 17, the SDG 5 talks about achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls. The 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and its 17 SDGs adopted by world leaders embody a roadmap for progress that is sustainable and leaves no one behind. To achieve this SDG we need to rethink about our cities and villages to make them gender sensitive and to build an inclusive community across the globe that offers equal opportunities to all its citizens.
Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals says ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’. Gender equality is a right. There is a growing consensus that most of the challenges of our times like economic crises, health care, climate change, violence against women and escalating conflicts can be addressed by fulfilling this right or at least gives it the best chance of doing so.
UN Woman says ‘Women are not only more affected by these problems, but also possess ideas and leadership to solve them. Gender discrimination still holding too many women back, holds our world back too. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in
It is imperative that women and girls are provided with equal access to education and decent work, health care and
Reimagining our cities
It is in the above context that our cities need to be reimagined; a city which is women-friendly, in which they can contribute socially and economically both. That is a pre-requisite for
Crime against women is a growing concern. Not just in the national capital Delhi, but in
Today, approximately 18 per
The inequality between men and women in India is stark. Just take the example of streets of Indian cities. Undeniably it is a male domain. According to World Bank data, just twenty seven percent of Indian women participate in the work force, compared with seventy nine percent of men. This trend is most visible in urban areas. Although women in India mostly walk, cycle or use public transport to go to work, they are still much less visible in public spaces than men, because many do not have jobs to travel to at all. Access to good transport itself is crucial to a just and economically productive city. Ultimately, transportation enables women to participate in the society and workforce. Public transport is indeed a key factor in making a city accessible to women. Kavita Krishnan says “public transport in major policy decisions must be a priority which women’s movement is demanding for a long time so that women are really able to access the cities at all times.
There has to be a solid network of public transport. Bombay, for instance, is a good example of that. The fact that Bombay had till quite recently and even now continues to have an excellent public transport of trains and buses running leading into the night means that women tend to access the city a lot more when there are more women out in public places more and more women out on the street.”
The book ‘Why Loiter’, a book dedicated to public spaces specially women’s access to public spaces in India says very clearly about the instance of a young woman who does not want to be seen with a male friend in her own locality and so even though the stretch between the bus stop and home may be unsafe, she will walk that distance alone because she does not want her male friend to accompany her to that point. So, this shows that their fear of patriarchal gaze sometimes outweighs the fear of other dangers.
In fact it puts women in greater danger. So, what can public policy makers do to change the ways in which the city looks at women? While doing all this, the policy makers also have to keep in mind the most vulnerable section among working women that is migrants who do odd jobs. There must be a law in place to stop any kind of discrimination and abuse they face on daily basis. Ultimately, we need to rethink our cities to make them gender sensitive, which is by extension an inclusive city that offers equal opportunities to all its citizens. A city that is good for children, the elderly and women is a great city for all.