E-Women – is an online platform where women express their ideas on cities’ improvement through e-petitions, marking unsafe places in cities on the map and reporting on sexist advertising.
Currently, most architects, planners and policy makers are still men, and this means that the cities policy making lacks women’s perspective. Political representation of women is low all over the world and in Ukraine specifically. In Ukrainian Parliament women constitute 11%, on the local level this number is even lower in majority of local and regional authorities. Those women who work for national and local governments usually occupy professionally lower positions rarely becoming managers or Heads of departments. When we get more women at the table, naturally the perspective, the needs and the talents of women can start showing up.
Furthermore, majority of cities in Ukraine prove to be unsafe for women due to the large number of dark streets, absence of pedestrians, inhabited industrial areas etc.
Multiply researches in gender studies revealed that majority of world’s cities are designed in inconvenient and often unsafe way for women. A UN Habitat Report says that, “it is…widely acknowledged that women and girls living in low-income urban contexts are disproportionately affected by safety hazards such as gender-based violence, unstable housing and inadequate sanitation facilities or lighting.” For example, in cities that that don’t have indoor toilets, women face danger every time they go to use a faraway outhouse, or worse, have to go to an informal outdoor “bathroom” where they have little privacy and are vulnerable to sexual harassment or violence. In 2014, UN Women conducted a poll showing that over 90% of women had experienced violence when accessing public transport.
What issues affect women in built environment?
- Poor lighting
- Badly planned transport infrastructure
- Unsafe pedestrians
- Lack of amenities for women
- Unsafe spaces for children
More on how to turn cities into convenient and safe places for women: https://www.smartcitiesdive.com/ex/sustainablecitiescollective/designing-safe-cities-women/1052876/
Integrating the gender perspective in urban planning is a question of democratic value. The urban environments should be safe, accessible and inclusive for both men and women. The inclusion of Gender Mainstreaming in Local Urban Planning will build a resilient and tolerant society.
Another issue which affects women in cities is sexist advertising on the streets. In today’s modern society the media and especially advertising have manifested sexist nature. Advertising agents actively exploit women’s sexuality, they represent women as an object of desire. The advertising world exploits the beauty of women who then become a commodity, a way of «attracting» customers to buy a product. Sexist advertising is the issue which is common for all cities in the world also including those with the most gender-equal policies.
To make cities safer and more women-friendly Institute of Innovative Governance is launching an E-Women project which is one of the tools through which women can get better access to cities’ governance.
How E-Women works?
E-Women project has two clusters: safety mapping and e-petitions for women which exist in the form of an App and a website.
Within the safety mapping a girl or woman can open an map of the city she lives and mark a place which is according to her view or experience is unsafe for women. Safe mapping has already been launched in many cities of the world such as London, Montreal, Ottawa etc. Ukrainian cities are ready to join the list. The Safe City Map is provided to the Institute of Innovative Governance by the Plan International.
After mapping the unsafe place a girl or women would have an opportunity to launch a petition through the same E-Women platform to call local government to make changes. After the petition is registered and the necessary amount of votes is collected a city council will have to vote and either approve or decline a petitions. In case the petition is approved City Council will have to implement it.