By Sarah Bumberger
How to build gender just cities? Or communities with an equity lens? Cities can be places where class, gender and racial inequalities are perpetuated and exacerbated by urban development policies. To discuss these and other issues around the theme of “A Path Ahead for Gender Justice”, we invited gender experts, human rights activists and over 200 academics, practitioners and future professionals to the 6th peace&justice café.
The second part of this two-part blog series provided important insights into roundabout discussions by focusing on the theme of peace and justice. This time we’ll take a deeper look into the world of gender equitable cities, given that gender just cities are meant to encompass equality, democracy and diversity.
Breaking down stereotypes in urban policy and practice from the European Urban Knowledge Network (EUKN)
“Cities are not gender just. Women still have to adapt to cities to feel safe”, says Frederica Risi, Policy and Project Officer at EUKN. This goes back to sexism, the idea that some genders have more value than others and therefore have ‘fuller’ civil rights. As an embedded value system, sexism has a structural impact on how cities are designed and function. For while cities offer transformative opportunities, the creation of gendered wealth is often hindered by persistent gender inequalities, discrimination and exclusion.
But what are the paths to gender empowerment and change that need to be taken to improve gender equality in cities?
Let’s start with the issue of safety: “Safety is more than having a gender balance in the streets, it’s also about having a gender balance in the businesses” to take greater account of women’s specific perspectives and needs, and especially their right to the city. Only through active policies that recognise women’s right to the city will we be able to live in and enjoy more democratic and inclusive cities.
Raising awareness of gender-sensitive service delivery for the development of gender-equitable cities
“Through our services deliveries as a community we are perpetuating gender marks. We need to change that, all together!”, argues Job Van der Poel during The Hague Academy for Local Governance’ roundabout session on ‘Gender Sensitive Service-Delivery’. To better support progress in gender equality and women’s empowerment, and ultimately reduce poverty and vulnerability in a sustainable way, we should start by mainstreaming a gender perspective into programme design and implementation. This can range from “father centres showing men how to raise their children” to the use of gender-sensitive counselling protocols (e.g., non-discriminatory language, two-way communication, equal consideration of women in couples counselling).
To conclude: “If you have a culture where children and household chores are the women’s responsibility, men are not going to volunteer to do their part”- Sundus Balata, an Independent Gender and Urban Development Expert.
All these roundabout sessions show that the push for gender equality can be found in almost every topic. Designing cities with gender equality activities like these not only helps to integrate gender perspectives into the design of buildings, streets and infrastructures, but also has an impact on people and the feeling of equality.
The peace&justice café is made possible by the Municipality of The Hague, powered by The Hague Humanity Hub, and made hybrid by Holland Park Media. The next edition of the peace&justice café will take place in Spring 2023. Stay tuned to The Hague Humanity Hub’s social channels, website, and newsletter for the latest updates!