Gender and spatial inequity exist in various forms as in politics, law, and regulation; culture, religion & social norms; economic development; education; urbanization city growth and development, etc.
Women are one of the most vulnerable members of society that are affected by city design decisions. The different gender needs that are not considered in the design of a city’s physical spaces are limiting women’s ability to participate in education and the socio-economic development of a country.
Urbanization affects women and men in different ways due to social activities and gender roles that are particular to women and men. City design and spatial planning are tools that can mediate and serve as a cross-cutting factor that can address these different issues to bring an equitably inclusive development.
If cities are designed to provide a conducive environment for women to equally access academia and employment, women will be competitive at work and can secure leadership positions in all the professional and political arenas. As a result, women’s and girls’ poverty will be reduced as they will equally benefit and contribute to the socio-economic development of the country. Thus, change the constructed realities and internalized mindsets of vulnerability, dependency, and victim feelings into success stories whenever a women’s topic/issue is raised.
If more women participate in the urban design and planning of physical spaces, the result will be more gender-sensitive and equitably inclusive. Equitably inclusive and gender-responsive city design solutions will strengthen capacities for social innovation and help to develop local economies of fast urbanizing countries. Identifying sustainable practical design interventions for transformative projects can contribute to policy-making aimed at achieving ‘Fair Cities’ — an inclusive city built to equally benefit its community’s need rather than in conflict with it.
Tigist Kassahun Temesgen (Architect and Urbanist) who is the owner of this research, formally titled: ‘Gender and Space: the role of city design for an equitably inclusive development’ (2013-2020), extracted questions from this study for discussion and moderated the 3rd ‘Architect’s Table’ under the topic ‘CITY for Women … through women’s lens’ held on 29th September 2020 at Addis HALL.
The questions for discussion were: 1. What does a CITY for women look like? 2. How does a city that is designed through a gender/women lens contribute to equal and inclusive socio-economic human development? 3. Who are the Stakeholders in endorsing the urban space – gender equity agenda in the urban-city development planning? Should it only be architects and urban planners? Does being a woman as a representative of the stakeholders play a major factor, how?
The panelist includes W/ro Yelfign Worku (educationalist, researcher, and gender specialist – Treg consult plc; W/ro Melkam Alemu (social-historian, education, and gender expert); W/rt Nejat Mohammed (architect and urban planner). The audience included: Senior experts, policymakers, emerging women practitioners in architecture, urban design, and planning fields; education and socio-economic fields; women’s community to share their experience in how city design decisions have given new opportunities and/or challenged their way of life.
Generally, the purpose of the discussion was to raise awareness on how a city’s spatial design has an impact on limiting women’s opportunity /ability to contribute or benefit from the socio-economic development of the country. Bringing the ‘Women and Cities’/ ‘Gender and Space’ topic to the fore will help hear the unheard voices of the challenges and opportunities of different women communities and stakeholders faced due to the city’s spatial design decisions. As a result, the discussion aimed to contribute to expanding the impact of the knowledge and understanding on how to achieve equally inclusive gender equity through city planning and design.