How a feminist perspective can make cities better for everyone


Women and other marginalized groups experience cities differently, writes Marion Roberts. “Experiences of sexual harassment and violence intersect with other social inequalities, particularly those of class, race, disability and sexual orientation. design can be confusing, distracting from deep, long-standing “structures” of inequality that are rooted in the built environment and in the mindsets of politicians and planners.”

Roberts calls for “a socialist-feminist approach [that] cuts through this technical complexity by demanding that the work of reproduction, care and domestic responsibilities, generally assumed by women and girls, be recognized and valued on the same basis as that of production. “

The article provides examples from several international cities that have implemented planning interventions using this approach. Vienna, the only city to fully adopt the concept, “takes into account the reconciliation of paid work, household chores and family responsibilities as a central principle of its planning strategy. Its development plan is based on a “city of short distances” and provides for everyday life.”

For example, the new urban extension in Vienna, Aspern Seestadt, connects its 20,000 projected households to Vienna’s city center with a rapid metro connection, and includes different job opportunities in the urban extension, as well as enough schools, nurseries, medical services, Austria initially managed the main street, reception and leisure facilities, refugee facilities and a new urban park around the lake.

“In Mexico City, a program called ‘Safer Streets, Safer Paths’ for women introduced better lighting, security cameras and panic buttons on 200 kilometers of streets and paths. Combined with other improvements to public spaces, it reduced street crime against women by 29% and increased perception of safety by 40% over the period 2018-2021,” writes Roberts.

Far from just improving the lives of urban women, Roberts argues that this approach to building cities can ensure fair and equitable access to amenities and economic opportunities for all.


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