GenPORT speaks to Inés Sánchez de Madariaga, Eda Beyazit and Agnieszka Labus on the importance of engendering habitat

 

Engendering Habitat III

Facing the Global Challenges in Cities, Climate Change and Transport,

5th and 6th October, 2016  Madrid.

The International Conference ‘Engendering Habitat III’ engages with contemporary challenges to the urban environment, with specific reference to their gender dimensions and the promotion of gender equality. It will contribute to the participatory processes leading up to the New Urban Agenda, to the urgent measures to reduce global warming, and to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including its goals, targets and indicators.

The tracks for the conference are the following:

Track 1. What Would Gender Sensitive Urban Design & Architecture Be Like?

Track 2. Security and Safety: Building and Managing Urban Spaces Free of Violence against Women (VAW)

Track 3. Gender as a Key Component to Ensure ‘Access for All’ to Housing, Transportation, ICT and Employment

Track 4. Contemporary North-South Divides and European Semi-Peripheries: Migration and Environmental Challenges

Track 5. Gender Mainstreaming in Urban Planning and Gendered Research Methodologies: Process, Tools and Techniques

Track 6. Ensuring Gender Equality vis-à-vis Environmental Challenges within the International Agendas for Sustainable Development and Climate Change

Track 7. Promoting Structural Change in Science and Research Institutions

Track 8. Recognition Without Bias in Architecture and Planning: Challenging Gate- Keeping and Canon-Building Practices

The deadline for abstracts is the 18th of April 2016.

 

GenPORT speaks to Inés Sánchez de Madariaga, Eda Beyazit and Agnieszka Labus on the importance of engendering habitat.

 

Can you give us an example of how gender mainstreaming in urban planning can really make a difference?

Gender mainstreaming (GM) in urban planning is an approach that recognises and appreciates the differences and similarities between women and men and their diverse roles, resources and aspirations in urban areas. This way of thinking contributes to ensuring safe, healthy, sustainable and friendly environments for all habitants. Inclusion of a gender perspective can enhance the effectiveness of solutions in areas such as housing policy, social justice, public health, the fight against crime, transport policy and revitalization.

GM emerged in the 1990s as a major global strategy for promoting gender equality. Since then, a number of practical applications of this approach in the specific field of urban planning and policies, and the thinking encoded in theoretical contributions, provide a sufficient basis from which to reflect on the concept, its weaknesses and strengths. For instance, in a project applied in Mariahilf, a district in Vienna, gender issues have been taken into account in decision-making processes and contributed to estimate the impact of planned activities on different users. The aim of the project was to draw attention to the needs of each individual (single women and men, the elderly, mothers with children, fathers with children, youth, children, etc.) in order to achieve a better standard of living and independent mobility for all inhabitants. Some indicators for users were introduced as criteria for future decision-making processes that will take the needs of "vulnerable" groups into account.

 

How can the design of buildings and the urban environment help to combat Violence Against Women?

The gendered aspects of both human security, as defined by the UN, and of urban safety, are crucial but still largely neglected areas of attention. There is a strong need for gendered knowledge and policy analysis. There are various solutions to combat Violence Against Women (VAW ) that can be achieved through applying design principles for safer cities and buildings. Architects and urban designers should pay attention to designing rooms, staircases, parking spaces that are light and open in buildings; and parks, underground passages, squares, pedestrian roads that make women and girls feel safer and allow them to enjoy the public life freely without being socially and spatially excluded due to the fear of violence and harassment. 

 

Why is gender so important – when we talk about access to services (Housing, Transport, ICT and Employment)?

Access to housing, transport, and employment, and to basic facilities and services, including ICT, is a key issue in ensuring a decent quality of everyday life for everyone, irrespective of gender and of other potential discriminatory traits, including age, race, socioeconomic status and so on. Adding gender dimension to the debates on accessibility deepen our understanding of the complexity of the issue and helps us realise the needs and wants of women from different socio-economic backgrounds and from various geographies. Accessibility is crucial for reducing inequalities that occur in its absence, and therefore is necessary for achieving a more balanced and just society.  

 

What are the benefits of taking an intersectional approach to gender and the urban environment?

Taking an intersectional approach to gender and the urban environment helps us understand the inequalities that occur within urban areas and reflect on these issues through policy, design and other planning tools. It also helps us develop theories that focus on reducing inequalities not only from a social perspective but also from economic, environmental and spatial perspectives. Through an intersectional approach to gender and the urban environment we can build our state-of-the-art solutions on well-grounded theories of just and fair cities. 

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The importance of engendering habitat is explained.