What Does It Mean to Design a City for Women?

Vienna's two-decade-old quest to better balance access to city resources for men and women - called gender mainstreaming - has resulted in more than sixty pilot projects that are reshaping the Austrian capital.
September 17, 2013, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The movement to incorporate gender in public policy decisions in Vienna can be traced to a photography exhibit titled "Who Owns Public Space -- Women’s Everyday Life in the City" that was organized by Eva Kail and a group of city planners in 1991. "It depicted the daily routines of a diverse group of women as they went about their lives in the Austrian capital," explains Clare Forlan. "Each woman tracked a different route through the city. But the images made clear that safety and ease of movement were a priority for all of them."

In the twenty years since, dozens of pilot projects aimed at benefitting men and women equally have been completed. These include an apartment complex designed for and by women, park redesigns, and pedestrian mobility and safety improvements.

"[Gender mainstreaming] began as a way to look at how men and women use city space differently," says Forlan. "Today, however, mainstreaming has evolved into a much broader concept. It’s become a way of changing the structure and fabric of the city so that different groups of people can coexist."

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Published on Monday, September 16, 2013 in The Atlantic Cities
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