Women Friendly Cities
- Can access health, education and social services.
- Can access employment opportunities.
- Can access high quality and comprehensive urban services (such as transportation, accommodation and security).
- Can access mechanisms that will guarantee their rights in the event they are subjected to violence.
- Local governments take into account women’s issues and perspectives in their planning and decision-making processes.
- Women are supported and encouraged to participate in all areas of urban life on an equal basis with men.
In essence, women friendly cities are those cities where all the residents of that particular city can equally benefit from the financial, social and political opportunities presented before them.
The only way to make this city possible is to establish the mechanisms that would enable a participatory administration model at local level, to include women and gender mainstreaming perspectives within local administrations’ planning and decision-making processes and to enhance the levels of dialogue and cooperation between women’s organizations and local administrations.
Why Women Friendly City?
Although women constitute half of the city population, they cannot fully and equally participate in local decision-making processes. However, women are the natural partners to be consulted by chosen and appointed local administrators in their planning and management processes. Women’s equal representation demand in decision-making mechanisms is a constitutional right and an indispensable element of democracy.
Traditionally, urban planning is carried out by men and women’s needs are not taken into consideration. However, all the decisions made on housing, security, transportation, education and health issues directly affect women, facilitating or complicating their lives. Since women are not equally represented in the local assemblies, they cannot influence these decisions as needed.
For instance, services such as building places where women can gather or a kindergarten and a day care centre for each neighbourhood etc. are generally not prioritized in urban planning and organization. Poorly illuminated streets, lack of public bus services to remote areas and the poor security conditions of existing ones prevent women from exercising their freedom of travel which is one of their fundamental rights. Overpasses and high pavements make it hard for women to use city streets with strollers. Women constitute one of the most ignored groups when it comes to benefiting of cultural, sports and leisure facilities of the cities. Furthermore, women shelters and immediate support hot lines to be able to reach the authorities in case of an exposure to violence are also important issues, which should not be disregarded in the plans of the city administration.
The key condition of creating a women friendly city is to be able to correctly analyse the infrastructural, social and spatial needs of women and girls and by analysing these needs a) to design women-specific urban services and b) to provide all services by assessing them in terms of gender equality. These two approaches should not be considered as two alternatives but instead two complementary parallel approaches.
In summary, the first step of creating a women friendly city is to get to know the women and girls living in this city and analyse their needs, problems and opportunities correctly. Following this step, gender sensitive strategic plans and performance programmes should be prepared in the cities and gender sensitive budgeting should be taken into consideration while setting up the provincial budget. United Nations Women Friendly Cities Joint Programme supports creating women friendly cities where women are actively participating in the management and daily life.