Fair Shared Cities
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Fair Shared Cities

The Impact of Gender Planning in Europe

Marion Roberts, Inés Sánchez de Madariaga, Inés Sánchez de Madariaga

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eBook - ePub

Fair Shared Cities

The Impact of Gender Planning in Europe

Marion Roberts, Inés Sánchez de Madariaga, Inés Sánchez de Madariaga

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About This Book

Bringing together a diverse team of leading scholars and professionals, this book offers a variety of insights into ongoing gender mainstreaming policies in Europe with a focus on urban/spatial planning. Gender mainstreaming was first legislated for in the European Union with the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999 and, although many interesting developments have occurred throughout the decade that followed, there is still much to do in terms of policy, knowledge production, dissemination and education. This work contributes to all three objectives, by advancing the state of knowledge, as well as providing educational and professional tools in the field of gender sensitive planning in Europe. The volume begins by explaining the concept of gender mainstreaming in relation to its origins in the 'second wave' of the women's movement and critiques of planning, architecture, transport planning and other built environment disciplines. It then provides a brief history of how gender mainstreaming was incorporated into European law, before focussing on the theoretical issues and questions that surround the concept of gender mainstreaming as they relate to urban space and the planning of cities and regions, including a discussion of the persistence of inequalities between the sexes in their access to urban space and services. In particular, the division between waged and unwaged work and its impact on the social construction of gender and of the physical built environment is considered. The differences between definitions of feminism and their implications for action in planning and design are also explored, paying regard to the tensions between a feminist vision of a transformation of gender relations and the requirements of gender mainstreaming to accommodate the different needs of women and men in their everyday lives in urban space. Throughout the book, key issues recur, such as the importance of time and space in the experience of urbanism, resistances to change on the part of institutions and social structures, and the importance of networks. Education and training also appear as common themes, as do citizen participation and the structures of governance. The chapters are organised into four sections: concepts, structures, empowerment and spatial quality. Contributors demonstrate a variety of approaches to the intersections of gender, women, cities, and planning, dealing with substantive and procedural issues in planning, at both local and regional scales. They stress the links between environmental sustainability and gender-sensitive urban development. The book concludes by putting forward an outlook for future action.

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Chapter 1
Introduction: Concepts, Themes and Issues in a Gendered Approach to Planning

Marion Roberts1
According to its Charter of Fundamental Rights, the European Union is founded on the
indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity; it is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. It places the individual at the heart of its activities, by establishing the citizenship of the Union and by creating an area of freedom, security and justice. (Official Journal of the European Communities 2000: 8)
The principle of equality extends to prohibiting discrimination based on an extensive list of social and physical characteristics, including that which forms the subject of this book, gender. The other half of the subject matter, planning, taken here in its broadest sense, to include landscape architecture, transport planning and urban design with spatial planning, does not of course appear in the Charter. The challenge for the authors in this collection is to discuss, demonstrate, explain, criticize and evaluate the gaps between impressive ideals of the Charter and the messy, complex and unstable practices of planning that, in turn, forms both its subject and its object, within the geographical boundaries of the Union’s member states.
In many ways the European Union (EU) has been at the forefront of attempts to transform relationships between women and men. Its adoption of gender mainstreaming in 1996 was hailed as a breakthrough by some feminist planners (Reeves 2002), although this view has subsequently been the subject of detailed and critical scrutiny (Larsson 2006; Gilroy and Booth 1999). Although the formality and technicality of gender mainstreaming may seem a long way from the consciousness-raising groups and commitment to plain speaking that characterized the women’s movement in the 1960s and 1970s (McRobbie 2009), several of the contributions in this collection will demonstrate its strengths and potential as well as its problems. Before considering the key issues and questions that surround the concept of gender mainstreaming with regard to urban space and the planning of towns and cities, this chapter will discuss important themes and concepts that have informed a gendered approach to planning. The third and final part introduces the structure of this collection. Throughout this introduction reference will be made to how the different and varied contributions relate to the debates about mainstreaming, gender, planning and European cities.

Planning: A Gendered Perspective

Historically the built environment professions have been dominated by men. At the turn of the twentieth century there were a very small number of female architects and engineers across Europe and their histories are still being reclaimed by feminist scholars. Outstanding women such as Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky who designed the Frankfurt kitchen stand out for their flair and political activism. Despite the gains made over the past century, there is still a significant gender disparity in the constitution of the professions of urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture and surveying, as discussed by Buckingham in Chapter 2 and Madariaga in Chapter 10.
In the UK of the 1970s it was possible for architecture schools to place a cap on the number of women they admitted onto courses. Gender divisions were crudely reinforced throughout the construction industry with professional and trade journals giving space for sexist advertising and promotion, such material then being recycled into ‘decoration’ for site offices and meeting huts alongside images from the popular press. These crude displays were not confined to the workplaces but infiltrated the drawing offices of younger technicians and assistants.
Given this background, it is not surprising that it took some time for the ideas of the women’s movement to permeate into practice and research in planning and architecture. Starting in the late 1970s, feminist scholarship exposed the manner in which gender relations could be understood in the constitution and configuration of urban space. Many early studies focused on housing (Colomina 1992, Roberts 1991, Wright 1983), not only because of the associations between domesticity and femininity (Matrix 1984) but also because housing constitutes the dominant building type in urban areas, has a separate history of women’s involvement as housing managers and throughout the twentieth century was the object of architectural intervention and experimentation by progressive architects and planners (Gilroy and Woods 1994). Such studies highlighted the design objectives and contextual assumptions of architects and planners, who failed to problematize gender divisions in waged labour and in unpaid reproductive work, that is, housework, childcare and other types of caring responsibilities. While many of these early studies focused on women, in doing so, as Wiegman (2008) points out, they were able to formulate a critique from within their own subject area, rather than be complicit with prevailing deeply embedded gendered norms.
A focus on housing and the neighbourhood ran the danger of perpetuating the binary segregation of public versus private spheres as male and female domains which, as Saegert pointed out in 1980, is a ‘guiding fiction’ that ‘finds its way into public policy and planning’. Feminist scholarship within the built environment disciplines has sought to overcome this barrier, both through more detailed exploration of the gendered nature of space at different spatial scales, from the global to the local, and through a more nuanced investigation into space, place and gendered identities. Despite repeated calls to overcome this binary divide between public and private, such is the strength of patterns of thought that calls still have to be made to focus attention on domestic violence in building an understanding of gendered geographies of fear (Whitzman 2007). Nor, as Daphne Spain points out, has much changed in mainstream planning discourse with regard to recognition of unpaid labour within the home. In a provocative chapter Spain (2005) points out that post-modernist accounts of the evolution of polycentric low-density cities such as Los Angeles have failed to notice the way in which some aspects of unpaid labour located in the home have been displaced into low-paid services dispersed throughout the metropolitan region, as with, for example, fast food restaurants. Many states in the European Union, too, have experienced the expansion of these kinds of services.
Feminist scholarship has, however, consistently taken transport as a topic for analysis and local intervention. Edited collections in the UK and the US include chapters on transport, thereby breaking down the ‘silo’ mentality which separates out the built environment professions (Booth, Darke and Yeandle 1996, Fainstein and Servon 2005; Little, Peake and Richardson 1988). Transport is a field in which changes in gender relations have become immediately visible. Gender remains a strong marker of distinction in terms, for example, of trip length, mode, trip-chaining, safety and purpose of the journey. Hjorthol comments that the differences between female and male daily travel patterns ‘can be seen as a barometer of the state of equality between men and women in society’ (2008: 206). This theme is further explored in Chapter 3, where Madariaga introduces a new concept to forefront caring responsibilities in transport planning.
The relationship between place, space and gendered identities is more difficult to locate within the specific practice of planning. Leaving aside the issue of the barriers posed by male domination, the nature of professional practice imposes a certain style of expression and thought. By definition, the built environment professions bring about change in its most ‘concrete’ sense. Such change is brought about through intervention in material practices, for example quasi-legal processes in planning and physical construction in urban design. Hence the questions often asked by practitioners in the course of seminars are often severely practical, probing how the insights generated through research may lead to alterations in practice and procedures to achieve a better outcome. Planners and urban designers see the urban landscape as a dynamic arena through which purposeful intervention can be made. Analysis is only the first part of what can be a major narrative. For example the replanning and regeneration of an urban neighbourhood takes typically between 10 and 15 years, that of a new town at least two decades or more.
In this sense planning is positioned as a discipline that may be distinguished from geography and urban studies. There is a greater focus both on the process of practice and implementation and the content of specific plans and design outputs. Rather than seeing these as technical and in some sense as gender neutral, feminist scholarship has sought to understand how gender relations are shaping these specialized and skilled activities and hence places and spaces themselves. The reconciliation of theory and practice, through a detailed study of experience, has formed a background to two major sets of experiments in a gendered approach to planning in the European context.

Everyday Life and Time Planning

An exploration of ‘difference’ runs the risk of diluting the power that lies in calls for equality between the genders. An alternative approach that has formed a rich seam for feminist planners takes as its starting point another social division, that between production and reproduction. Noting the changing nature of women and men’s lives, for example with more women entering the waged labour force and more men being expelled from it, the rise of the dual career household, increasing fragmentation in household structures and other changes, the paradigm of the New Everyday Life was formulated by Horelli and Vespä (Horelli and Vespä 1994, Gilroy and Booth 1999). This integrative concept was founded on the complexity and difficulties encountered by women and men, girls and boys, as they struggled to reconcile their quotidian activities. The concept covered the richness of life experience, incorporating social, cultural and communal dimensions as well as the economic. The intention for the paradigm was that it provided a theoretical underpinning to advance a new type of social and cultural infrastructure that would support, ease and enhance daily routines.
The European Union supported a feminist network, the EuroFem Network, that shared the results of 60 different projects as a step towards developing a gender-sensitive approach for a different type of planning to that traditionally pursued. The projects covered different aspects of the processes and products of planning. For example, speculative visioning was represented through the work of one group of Finnish women who held two-day workshops on the ‘Dream Method’, imagining how their lives could be changed in a future decade. Other projects were literally quite concrete, as in the FrauenWerkStadt, an exemplary gender-sensitive housing scheme in Vienna. Franziska Ullmann, the architect and master planner for this scheme, gives a detailed account of its design philosophy in Chapter 17 of this book. The processes of governance and participation were given as much importance as the production of plans and designs. The results of the different projects eventually were published in a Toolkit (Horelli, Booth and Gilroy 2000). This document presaged many of the themes that have dominated planning practice over the last decade, such as the importance of collaboration between agencies and the need for effective citizen participation.
A harmonious reconciliation of paid work, home life, social relations, leisure, cultural and spiritual activities involves a consideration of time as well as space. Time planning and the opportunities it offers for rebalancing everyday life has received a degree of analytic and practical attention in mainland Europe. Van Shaik (2011) comments that gender planning and gender theories have played a large part in the evolution of the ‘times of the city’ approach to planning. In these planning projects time is seen as a resource that is closely related to the quality of life. Due to traditional gender roles, it is of particular importance to women, who frequently have to juggle a plurality of roles and tasks.
A time-planning approach has been applied in experiments in Italy, Germany, France and Holland. Van Shaik notes that a lack of evaluation of these ‘exemplary’ projects, translated into English, has limited their penetration into international planning discourse. This volume seeks to redress this lacuna, through the inclusion of a discussion of the concept in Chapter 5 by Boccia and an account of time planning in Bergamo, written by the planners who were most closely involved in it (see Chapter 15 by Zambianchi and Gelmini). Space–time relationships have been altered most recently through the penetration of ICTs into almost every aspect of existence and this in turn throws up new possibilities for a gender-sensitive approach to planning and community engagement in everyday life. Horelli and Wallin continue the threads of a gender-sensitive approach to citizen participation, everyday life and space-time in the discussion of an experiment in community informatics in Chapter 13.
The aim of the EuroFem Network was to effect a transformation in gender relations. Gilroy and Booth (1999) point out the danger of adopting a time planning approach is that in reconciling and enhancing the complex demands of living, women add to their tasks and the division of caring and domestic responsibilities is left unchallenged. This leads us into a further preoccupation within scholarship and that is of the formation of gender identity.

Gendered Spaces

Whilst the categories of sex and sexual orientation are mainly formed at biological conception, with some exceptions for transgendered individuals, gender is most commonly defined as a dynamic social construct. Gender can be understood as a ‘structure of social relations’ whose attention is on the relationships between bodies and is focused around the reproductive arena in its broadest sense. Here reproduction means the entire means by which a society ensures its continuity, thereby referring to aspects of work, care and culture (Larsson 2006). Gendered identities are thus contextually and historically specific and are experienced subjectively. Nevertheless, individuals and collectivities of individuals have the potential to act with agency and to change the social structures they operate within.
Feminist scholarship has elucidated how gendered subjectivities are ‘produced in space and in part constitute that space such that neither can preexist the other’ (Nightingale 2006: 166). The acknowledgement of the social construction of gender has led to a theoretical and epistemological critique of the intellectual underpinnings that inform planning theory. Feminists in the 1970s and 1980s criticized Enlightenment philosophy, arguing that its totalizing worldview, that posited the male as universal subject, reified rationality and subsumed or dismissed more ‘feminine’ ways of knowing such as intuition and empathy. This critique moved into other areas with, for example, Wilson’s (1991) account of the development of the women’s movement in the disorder of the city as posing a challenge to the masculine orderliness of the early town-planning movement. Fainstein (2005) robustly criticizes this attack on objectivity, arguing that order and rationality have much to offer to a struggle against inequality and that an over-reliance of subjectivity risks losing sight of the need to achieve material equalities for women.
A similar critique could be made of the use of psycho-analysis in architectural theory, which leads to some provocative art works and interesting theoretical writings, but is difficult to connect to generalist proposals for changes in mainstream practice (Rendell, Penner and Borden 2000). Milroy (1996), however, sees some benefits in a feminist conceptualization of planning, adopting what she terms the ‘originative’ approach, derived from Irigaray. A crude description of this approach is that it posits that women, as a sex, internalize their experience of themselves as being ‘not’ men. Sexuality, according to psycho-analytic theory, lies at the core of growing up in the world and the establishment of personal identity. The argument is that differences between women and men are constructed and construed by both men and women as being either male or ‘not’ male rather than as two categories that are merely different. The hegemony of the male body is illustrated by, for example, Le Corbusier’s modular scale which, in common with Leonardo da Vinci, took the male body as a key point of reference for architectural dimensioning. Women secure equality by being like men, but then they become women who are like men and not women. The challenge is:
to make room for and validate images of being that are women’s and entirely separate from those of men … over and above those that men have created. (Milroy 1996: 464)
Milroy suggests that such a challenge is more difficult to incorporate into planning than the equalities approach, because it intersects with the vision of what constitutes the ‘good life’. Nevertheless there are examples. For instance, the work of architectural historians such as Dolores Hayden have uncovered a rich history of gender-related experimentation with house form, city structure and public art (Hayden 1981, 1995). Her own speculative project ‘What would a Non-Sexist City be Like’, a short essay setting out how a group of suburban houses could be transfor...

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