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Want Tips On How To Build A Better City? Ask A Woman

September 16, 2013, 4:35 PM

What's the Latest Development?

Since 1991, when a photography exhibit titled "Who Owns Public Space -- Women’s Everyday Life in the City" showed how women navigate through Vienna on an ordinary day, more than 60 pilot urban planning projects have been completed that look at men's and women's needs as separate factors. This concept, commonly known as "gender mainstreaming," involves collecting data from citizens on how they use public and private space with the aim of making those spaces more livable and usable for everyone. For example, one study that examined public parks revealed that after the age of nine, the number of girls who used them decreased. In response, city planners redesigned two parks to allow both groups to use the facilities without one dominating the other.

What's the Big Idea?

Eva Kail, who was instrumental in bringing gender mainstreaming to Vienna, says that the idea had and still has its fair share of critics: "[A] lot of our colleagues thought [the 1991 exhibit] was ridiculous...When you tell people that up until now they haven't taken the women’s perspective into account they feel attacked. We still have people asking, 'Is this really necessary?'" Despite this, Vienna's inclusive approach to city planning has garnered attention from abroad, and the United Nations has nominated two projects for its Public Service Award.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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