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The Charter is a research/action realised by a European team and subsidised by the Commission of the European Union Unit (Equal Opportunities Unit). It contents an evaluation of the current situation of women in cities regarding decision making, a 12-point declaration, an analysis of five priority topics (urban planning and sustainable development, safety, mobility, habitat and local facilities, strategies), a computerised database of resource persons and bibliographical references and a catalogue of 66 "best practices" (new cases are currently added). Purpose of the charter: to set up an International Network able to highlight the aspect of gender in these issues.
A useful common platform for discussion for all actors, because
The Charter is viewed as a lasting and open analytical process containing a series of concrete proposals which might be put into practice in order to take into account and to promote increasingly active citizenship by women in town planning as a whole.
One of the presuppositions is that a woman's self-interest does not exist as such, but
that women may act as catalysts in the process of change and of improvements of living
PURPOSES OF THE CHARTER
The proposal for a "Charter for Women in the City" aims at conceiving a new philosophy in town planning, likely to make a constructive contribution to a true democratic debate which will take accounts of the needs and the various expectations of citizens, women and men alike. Efforts for revitalising cities must merge with other, newer, political and economic priorities aiming at increased social harmonisation. The issue at stake is to recreate spaces and close social ties with increased equal opportunities for women and men in urban and rural life.
The Charter mainly aims at promoting an emancipated society, free from constructive stereotypes hindering all women-oriented development in town planning and services, housing, safety and mobility.
Cities must therefore be rethought and remodeled through a woman's perception, which
will be instrumental in giving them a new equilibrium and another dimension.
THE QUEST FOR A NEW CITY PHILOSOPHY
Change will be achieved by :
Taking into account social, cultural and historical relationships between women and men is essential for initiating any change and will eventually require :
"The City is an organized Memory"
whereas women are absent from, or particularly unobtrusive in, all decision making levels related to cities, housing and town planning. Whereas they are as yet very little involved in the major political, economic and social issues at stake. Whereas their particular needs are hardly taken into account in planning, as they are usually overridden by the decision makers' interests;
whereas living conditions in the city - viz. the neighbourhood and housing - influence and mark to a great extent the daily lives of its inhabitants; women in particular are affected as they in addition often carry out a double day's work and therefore have to rely to great extent on quality city services and transport and environmental policies.
whereas women are doubly excluded as city users and as town and housing planners;
whereas a "born-citizen" must have a home somewhere and that this home is, by its very nature and quality, closely linked to citizenship. Whereas today, and indeed historically, the rules of the game and priorities, political and budgetary decisions are defined mainly by men, who are convinced to be acting in the interest of all;
whereas women are discriminated against when it comes to employment, that they are the poorer section of the population and that they are more affected by bad functioning of cities in area as such as housing, lack of mobility, and violence in particular. For all these reasons, women have a direct interest in improving urban development and rural planning;
whereas town planning considers only nuclear families in which a woman's lot is largely reduced to housework and a man's job is usually away from home. This model, which has fixed social stereotypes, has been less typical for several decades now and no longer represents but a minority, is gradually being replaced by new types of families which town planning has neither foreseen nor taken into account, thereby creating renewed dysfunction and social tension.
whereas many European and cities world-wide are going through a crisis and jeopardising social balances and peace. This state of affairs is due to problems which must be solved as a whole. Obsolete urban theories and methods curb any development or innovation, and generate and perpetuate cities in crisis. The Charter of Athens of Le Corbusier, architect in France, which divided cities into single-function districts introduced distortions and has led, in time, to serious disturbances. Tangible results are troubled city districts, social outcasts, as well as the social and economic costs arising from commuting between the home and the work place. Pollution and heavy traffic in cities are also due to urban policies. Quality in city life is seriously jeopardised and if cities are to have any future at all, this handicap has to be tackle.
whereas cities are faced with major and unprecedented challenges for achieving the
following objectives : environmental preservation and sustainable development, improved
quality of life for all, including increased equality, solutions to urban malfunctions and
the fight against exclusion, active and balanced democracy for a plural society, in which
women are actively involved.
THE DECLARATION IN 12 POINTS
WOMEN IN THE CITY and ...
1. Active Citizenship
2. Decision Making and Parity in Democracy
3. Equal Opportunities
5. Daily Life
6. Sustainable Development
7. Social Safety and Mobility
8. The Right to Housing and Habitat
9. Gender Issues
10. Education and Local Experimentation
11. The Role of the Media and Transmitting Experience
THE 5 PRIORITY THEMES
Which are the crucial elements and factors in a town
A. Town planning and environment
C. Urban Safety
- All forms of communication whose priority targets are both the political and the professional decision-makers in the fields in question. Universities, schools and research structures are concerned as well by the flows of communication which should be developed in order to change in a durable way people's attitudes to town and country planning.
- Determining concrete achievements at local level -experiments fields on a real scale - is essential. They should promote support for urban and social change.
The quality of homes and living spaces is as beneficial to men as to women, which doubly validates the procedure; it gives women the opportunity to make emerge a whole range of general problems as regarding planning which even now is the tip of the iceberg of problems which have to be solved in order to improve, bearing in mind a sustainable development perspective, everyone's -men and women's- environment for living.
Contact for International Relation:
Gender issues and decision making in planning, housing, mobility, social safety.
Moving towards a Gender-Conscious City
This Charter - a research/action subsidised in 1994 an 1995 by the Commission of the
European Union (Equal Opportunities Unit) - is disseminated in Europe and to international
bodies by several European associations. One of the main goal is to set up an
International Network of Actions and of Experts on Gender & Human Settlements whose
mission is to highlight the aspect of gender as an area of expertise when approaching the
subject of town planning, mobility, social safety, housing. The question is to change
mentalities and promote the application of the proposed process in all town and country
planning and in organising rural communities.
Some short explanation about the Charter and the concept of "Cities, Citizenship and Gender":
Although women account for more than 50% of the population, they are conspicuously absent in the public debate on the development and planning of cities. In order to increase the chances that in depth change will be successful, a different way of approaching the complex problems of our urban and rural communities would involve taking gender-based socio-cultural relationships into account with a goal of equality between women and men. In fact, applying the dimension of gender to cities gives rise to a new debate, which not only "upsets the apple cart" but shows that there are other ways of planning and managing cities or any residential area. Moreover, analysing the framework of daily life through feminine expertise has the advantage of a qualitative approach to the main concerns of all citizens, such as safety, mobility and habitat.
The Charter must be envisaged as a tool of choice for lending new dynamism to the usual working methods, an ongoing and open process which makes concrete proposals for action that can be implemented in order to promote more active civic involvement - for women, in particular, but men as well - in the areas of town and country planning. The idea is to tap knowledge, identify and eliminate the stereotypes which still hinder the evolution and emancipation of our societies. Nothing will be solved without women's contribution, democratically legitimate and as an essential source for renewal in urban dynamics.
To get the Charter in English or in French (270 pages) contact : The European
Commission - Equal Opportunities Units Brussels Belgium Fax: (32-2) 2963562
Contact also the Authors:
European Union Commission GDV Social Affairs Equal Opportunities Unit
City & Shelter R.Mayerl Brussels E.Mail: 100533,2426@Compuserve.Com
Groupe Cadre de Vie - Monique Minaca Meudon France Fax:33-146231868
Fopa Dortmund - Seirov/Nirov Den Haag - Praxis Athens
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