What does gender equity have to do with design? Given that design impacts on the way we can navigate the world and participate, quite a bit. Gender equity in design is yet another element of designing inclusively.
Rights, responsibilities and opportunities should not depend on gender. Treatment of women, men, trans and gender diverse people are often subject to stereotyping or generalisations about roles. But for many designers and policy makers gender equity is a new concept. So the Gender Equity in Design Guidelines are a great help.
The City of Whittlesea in Victoria got onto the issue in 2017 to produce the Guide. As a local government authority the guide focuses on community facilities. It introduces the case for gender equity and has a focus on issues for women. While there is an emphasis on safety and easy access for women with children, gender diverse groups are not forgotten.
What the guidelines cover
Many of the features capture the essence of universal design. The twenty page document covers site planning, concept design and documentation for:
- Community centres
- Maternal and child health
- Youth facilities
- Community pavilions
- Aquatic and major leisure facilities
The Guidelines acknowledge that any building project goes through several stages and has different stakeholders. Consequently, it only covers planning, concept design and detailed design and documentation. The construction phase is dependent upon the follow-through from planning and design.
The aim of the Guidelines is to provide the best possible blueprint for gender-equitable practice. This means it is only looking through a gender lens and is not a total design guide. Consequently, regulatory standards and building code compliance and accessibility are outside the scope of the document.
Gender Equity in Design Guidelines were produced by the City of Whittlesea with support from the Victorian Government and the Municipal Association of Victoria.
Gender Inclusive Urban Planning
Why does gender inclusive urban design and planning matter? The World Bank’s Handbook for Gender-Inclusive Urban Planning and Design gives some answers. A city that works well for women, girls, and gender non-conforming people of all ages and differing levels of capability supports economic and social inclusion. Gender inclusive planning and design is:
- Participatory: actively including the voices of women, girls, and sexual and gender non-conforming people
- Integrated: adopting a holistic, cross-cutting approach that centres gender throughout and promotes citizen-city relationship building
- Universal: meeting the needs of women, girls, and gender non-conforming people of all ages and abilities
- Knowledge-building: seeking out and sharing robust, meaningful new data on gender equity
- Power-building: growing the capacity and influence of under-represented groups in key decisions
- Invested-in: committing the necessary finances and expertise to follow through on intentional gender equity goals
“Meeting these goals requires a fundamental shift in thinking and approach, and in particular a commitment to participatory processes, integrated approaches, universal design, building knowledge and power among under-represented groups; and financial investment.” Chapters cover the rationale for gender inclusion, foundations of planning and design, processes and project guidelines, case studies and further resources.
Urban planning and design shape the environment around us — and that shapes how we live, work, play, move, and rest. This handbook highlights the relationships between gender inequality, the built environment, and urban planning and design. Best practices for urban planning are included.
An article in the Latin American Post summarises some of the content.