Creating Gender Equality In Public Spaces


Aug. 4 2016, Published 3:30 a.m. ET

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From the many times we feel the pressure to cross the street to avoid cat calls, to the need to remember which subway stops we have to avoid late at night, these are things women must think about when navigating their city and town.

Charline Ouarraki, Julien Fernandez, and Audrey Noeltner decided to tackle the issue through the creation of their independent project, Womenability – a plan streamlined to work on making cities better for women. “Our project is about gender equality in public spaces, making cities more enjoyable for women,” Noeltner shared, “It means being able to go to cafes, play sports, breastfeed babies, use public transport and freely display affection to lovers, even of the same sex.”

The group’s goal derived from the simple fact that men and women encounter cities differently and most often, not equally. Instead Womenability wants to create a new set of guidelines and an international charter on how to create gender equity across all cities and make both women and feel at ease.

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Image: Womenability Facebook

Womenability’s journey has progressed using different tactics such as exploratory walks, local training, utilizing digital platforms, and creating political and social engagement from an international forum. Their team is currently on a 15-city tour, meeting with numerous participants such as urban planners, citizens, politicians, and more where they have facilitated interviews and gained outlook from surveys, and eventually will turn their experiences into a full length documentary.

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In addition to raising awareness of the issue, the organization has formed a pool of resources on ways to address both women’s safety and routine displays of sexism such as manspreading with different tools and tactics. Through reports of major cities such as Prague (Czech Republic), Malmö (Sweden), Paris (France) thus far, and more to come, we will better understand how to combat the lack of safety and protection we feel in the cities we live, participate, and tour.

So what are some cities that are moving in the right direction of women’s security? Across numerous travel websites and reports, here are five examples of the most secure cities for women to visit. Safe travels!

  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Malmö, Sweden
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Ottawa, Canada

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