Include Gender Mainstreaming in Local Urban Planning
The municipality of Västerås has decided to integrate gender mainstreaming as a vital part of their work when establishing a new comprehensive plan for the municipality. Integrating the gender perspective in urban planning is a question of democratic value.
Differences in preferences based on gender
Surveys have revealed that women and men often have different habits and preferences, for instance when it comes to using public transports and the feeling of security in public spaces. To improve quality of urban planning it is important to take into consideration the different perspective and needs of all citizens. The municipality of Västerås has integrated the gender aspect in their work through training staff, by making analyses of the situation in various areas related to the urban planning and by introducing new ways of performing consultations.
The project has allowed an increase of knowledge on how to include the gender perspective in urban planning and raised awareness among staff.
An important aspect highlighted in the new comprehensive plan is that the municipality should make sure than women and men have the same opportunities to influence their environment, their neighbourhood and overall urban planning of the municipality. Urban planning can improve by considering a wider range of perspectives from people with different backgrounds and living conditions.
New ways of organizing public consultations
Important parts of this work are the public hearings. Studies have shown that women are not involved in the urban planning to the same extent as men; men participate to a much larger extent in public consultations expressing their opinions which is causing a lack of democracy since women’s voices are not heard. One way of solving this is by changing the way of carry out consultations. In order to increase accessibility and facilitate for women to express their opinions, the municipality of Västerås has presented the new urban plans in places that are more frequently visited by citizens, such as shopping malls. The municipality has also given citizens the possibility to express their views by answering an online questionnaire provided on the municipality’s website. In the questionnaire citizens has been able to pinpoint various locations on a map and provide their inputs. To get a clearer picture on of the possible differences in preferences based on gender, the municipality has been reviewing the gender balance of all the comments and analyzed if there have been differences in the answers given by women and men. Is it for example as important for women as for men to build more roads, car parks, sport areas or green spaces? This information can help municipalities to evaluate possible discrimination in the treatment of the interest of different groups.
In the end it is a question of democracy and the responsibility of the municipalities to make sure that the needs of all citizens are being considered, regardless of gender and background.