Cities through different eyes

If you could go around as a different gender for a while – like Robin Williams’ character in Mrs Doubtfire  – you’d have a different experience of your city. Because they’re mainly designed and run by men, cities tend not to work so well for those who aren’t. But that’s not how it’s going to be in future.


International Women’s Day reminds us that NZ has made a lot of progress, and there’s a lot of progress still to make. The times they are a-changing, including in how we shape our towns – and that’s a good thing.

There’s now lots more information about how cities do and don’t work for women, and slowly those who shape them (mostly men) are starting to change how they think.   A few tidbits..

  • “A really walkable town” – pretty obvious what that means. “Bikeable town”  – ditto.  What about a womenable town?  check out this video, or  a cool document to flick through for more about womenability.


Here’s a really interesting article about research, which is mostly covering great progress we should think about emulating in NZ.  But also discusses some well-meaning attempts to improve a city, that backfired for women:

“Urban investments that focused on “cleaning up” and beautifying cities … drove off roadside hawkers and street vendors, [whose]  extra eyes … on the street … helped women feel and stay safe.”


Here’s a Citylab report that since  Vienna’s city planners had a lightbulb moment reading people’s answers to a basic transport survey, they’ve been doing things differently.  As with any progress, those who weren’t going to benefit had some eye-rolling feedback…

“People said things like, “does this mean we should paint the streets pink?”


Finally, a reminder of Aotearoa’s Women In Urbanism movement  – a great new initiative started last year out of Auckland – check them out on Facebook.


  • How do you think you’d see streets, transport, shops, public space differently if you weren’t your gender?

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