Women Friendly Cities is crucial to India’s Success
Rethinking our cities to be gender sensitive is an extension to being an inclusive city that offers equal opportunities to all its citizens. A city that is good for children, elderly and woman is a great city for all.
Reimagining our city to be more women friendly is crucial to our social and economic success as a country. Today women’s’ experience of our cities is horrendous and most women feel unsafe and insecure as we engage with the public spaces and the "built environment" of our cities. This sense of anxiety is corroborated by data put forth by India’s National Crime Bureau which highlights that four women are raped every hour. Therefore, design of safe urban environments can play a crucial role in addressing such heinous crimes and making our society better.
Furthermore, inclusive cities are not just crucial to our goals of social equity but are also essential to our economic future. Today, approximately 18 per cent women make up the urban workforce and this number has been in decline over the last decade. We need to improve female participation in our workforce to be an economic success. According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, the world can add $28 trillion or 26 per cent of GDP by 2025 if women participate in the economy like men do today. The way a city is designed affects women’s freedom and access. It can deter or empower women from going to school to being an entrepreneur. Therefore, India has to build the ultimate women friendly cities if the “India” story has to shine on.
Vienna in Austria is seen as the most women-friendly city in the world and offers a preview of what this idea means. The city stumbled upon female-friendly urban policies after a citizen survey threw up several inputs from women. The city had a major civic engagement campaign to include women’s perspective in the design process. Ease of access to services like education, healthcare, social amenities close to work and home has been a major result. Other manifestations of the policies include residential buildings designed close to mass transit with childcare services, kindergartens, community health clinics, community markets, social parks for play dates and caregiving services close by. Places where parents can socialize and share child care with community was one of the major urban design outcomes. Public spaces designed with females in mind led to diversity of games and spaces within parks and public spaces as well.
Access to good transport itself is crucial to a just and economically productive city. Ultimately, transportation enables women to participate in the society and workforce. Last mile connectivity is another vital constituent of our experience of the urban environment. Wider sidewalks and safe streets are the most crucial mobility infrastructure in an inclusive city.
Ultimately, rethinking our cities to be gender sensitive is an extension to being an inclusive city that offers equal opportunities to all its citizens. A city that is good for children, elderly and woman is a great city for all.
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