Gender perspective

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The gender perspective is not only about women in society. It is about the ways women and men interact and their ability to access resources and opportunities, in their communities depending on their being a woman or a man. Therefore, when any type of survey or analysis of a society is undertaken, it is important to have data that reflects the situation of women in comparison to the situation of men and vice versa.[1]

Gender perspective in the urban planning process

There are various inequalities in society based on class, wealth, race, gender, disability, age, or other cultural factors. These factors make equal participation of all members of society in planning processes more difficult. It is necessary to ensure that all these voices are heard and considered. In addition to this approach, it is important to clarify what a gender perspective actually means when undertaking urban planning.

Women and men have different perceptions of security and further more different urban protection needs. Thus, „gender is not only about women in society. It is about the ways women and men interact and their ability to access resources and opportunities in their communities depending on their being a woman or a man. Therefore, when any type of survey or analysis of a society is undertaken, it is important to have data that reflects the situation of women in comparison to the situation of men and vice versa“. [2]

Understanding the various situations, individual needs and perspectives of men and women therefore should inform all aspects of urban planning and management in a non-dogmatic way, as proposed by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme[3]:

Gender perspective and urban planning strategies

Women and men have different perceptions of security, which leads to different urban protection needs. Understanding the various situations, individual needs and perspectives of men and women should inform all aspects of urban planning and management, as summarised in the following table:[4]

Having a Gender Perspective in urban planning does NOT mean … Having a Gender Perspective in urban planning DOES involve …
Focusing only on women; Looking at the inequalities between men and women;
Treating women only as a vulnerable group; Recognizing that both men and women are actors in the planning process;
Treating women and men exactly the same; Designing planning strategies that take the inequalities and differences of men and women into account;
Striving for numerically equal participation between men and women; Moving beyond only counting the number of male and female participants to focus on the substance of their involvement as well as the impact of planning on men and women;
Assuming that all women (or all men) will have the same interests, views or priorities; Recognizing the differences between different groups of men and women (based on age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, etc.);
Focusing only on employment equity issues within organizations; Recognising that equal opportunities for women within organisations is only one aspect of gender equality;
Assuming who does what work, and who holds what responsibilities; Understanding the specific situation and documenting the actual conditions and priorities.

A practical method to integrate the gender perspective into strategic urban planning processes is the Participatory Diagnosis.

Footnotes and references

  1. United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT): Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Planning: A Guide for Municipalities, in: UNON Publishing Service Section, volume 1, 2007. United Nations UN Settlements Programme. Retrieved from: http://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/listItemDetails.aspx?publicationID=2662 [last access: 2011-11-01].
  2. United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT): Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Planning: A Guide for Municipalities, in: UNON Publishing Service Section, volume 1, 2007, 26. Retrieved from: http://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/listItemDetails.aspx?publicationID=2662. [last access: 2011-11-01].
  3. United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT): Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Planning: A Guide for Municipalities, in: UNON Publishing Service Section, volume 1, 2007, 26. Retrieved from: http://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/listItemDetails.aspx?publicationID=2662 [last access: 2011-11-01].
  4. According to United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT): Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Planning: A Guide for Municipalities, in: UNON Publishing Service Section, volume 1, 2007, 26. Retrieved from: http://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/listItemDetails.aspx?publicationID=2662 [last access: 2011-11-01].