How are cities addressing gender inequality in urban planning? - opinion

For several years now, Tel Aviv has placed emphasis on gender-adjusted urban planning.

CREATE MORE inclusive and safe spaces. (photo credit: CORINNA KERN/REUTERS)
CREATE MORE inclusive and safe spaces.
(photo credit: CORINNA KERN/REUTERS)
In 2020, we were all told to go inside because of the coronavirus and as a result, our lives went outside. Coffee tables on boulevards replaced desks in the office, benches replaced living room sofas and the whole city became a learning space for students from the age of kindergarten to high school, from university to senior citizens. Our public space has become “public” in the full sense of the word – and today, to a large extent, it is an extension of our homes.
Public spaces are currently going through another stage in their never-ending evolution. Urban surfaces associated with leisure and culture have become functional areas that meet the most basic needs of residents – the ability to make a living (office), enjoy social life (living room) and the right and desire to learn, grow and develop (learning spaces). It is time, then, now more than ever, to advance a response to another basic need in renewable urban planning – the unique needs of the women. Every city that engraves equality and the provision of opportunities for all on its banner must bring these values to fruition in thinking about women through public interaction.
In recent years, many cities around the world have been paying attention to the issue of gender equality in urban planning; this aims to create a safer public space for women and reduce the gender gaps between women and men. For several years now, Tel Aviv, which has been following the Fair Shared City vision, according to which gender equality is integrated into all aspects of the city’s planning and management, has placed emphasis on gender-adjusted urban planning.
Attention to the issue is expressed in the idea of creating neighborhoods that serve all the needs of residents, work, services, and education. It is expressed in the width of the sidewalks, in the equality of signage in the city, which appeals to both sexes, the adaptation of fitness facilities in parks for women, in naming the streets in the city and in maintaining publicity that respects women.
But much work is still ahead of us. Now, in an age where public space is used in an increasingly “private” and meaningful way in our daily lives, women still feel threatened walking down the street. It is time to listen to the needs of women in the public sphere and necessarily to design safer and more adapted cities. Design bright streets that combine commerce and encourage presence at all hours of the day, with little “dead” space and add lighting to urban parks and gardens as well.
Mobilize technology for a safe space: incorporate urban distress buttons, which transmit to a dispatch center or to the police, and add street cameras. Establish frequently cleaned public restrooms. Dedicate names of parks, streets, and schools to female figures from past and present. Present the women and their needs out in the open, more and more, until you feel equal and safe.
It is important to pay attention to how the city is perceived by those who walk its streets. Create more inclusive and safe spaces, taking into account the differences between those who use them. This will allow all – women, men, girls, children, the elderly, those with or without disabilities – to feel at home.
The writer is the CEO of the Tel Aviv Foundation