EUROPEAN CHARTER FOR WOMEN IN THE CITY
of a process on “City, Citizenship and Gender”
Gender issues, Equal Opportunities, Decision Making, Process,
Empowerment of Women
Urban planning, Social Safety, Mobility, Housing, Architecture, Nearby
Stereotypes, Time Planning, Daily Life
The Charter is a research/action realized by a European team
and subsidized 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 computerized
database of resource persons and bibliographical references and a
catalogue of 66 “best
practices” (new cases are currently added). This purpose of the
charter is to set up a International Network whose mission is to
highlight the aspect of gender in these issues.
Summary in 500
towards a Gender-Conscious City
This Charter - a research/action subsidized 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.
This Network is working closely with EuroFEM (Nordic Countries projects
Network) and has as a link with networks and NGOs on other continents
having a similar philosophy. The authors of the Charter expect reaction
and are looking on partnership for new projects in this field in Europe
about the Charter and the concept of “Cities, Citizenship and
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 short presentation in Spanish, German, Greek,
Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabic, Finnish, Russian, Turkish or
Chinese, as well as the database and the catalogue of best practices or for more
details and new projects contact R.Mayerl (lreyam (at) gmail.com )
City & Shelter
- Roland Mayerl
Groupe Cadre de Vie -
GERMANY: Fopa /Dortmund - Ursula Heiler
Summary in 2000
European Charter for Women in the City
useful common platform for discussion for all actors, because
parity in democracy will improve living conditions for all.
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 conditions generally.
PURPOSES OF THE CHARTER
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
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.
therefore be rethought and remodelled through a woman's perception,
which will be instrumental in giving them a new equilibrium and another
THE QUEST FOR A NEW CITY PHILOSOPHY
Changing outlooks and procedures
be achieved by :
removing obstacles to a woman's "Right to the City";
highlighting the issue to all involved, operating and deciding in
matters related to town planning, housing and living conditions;
promoting new democratic decision-making procedures in town
planning and developing improved living conditions through the
introduction of, and the contributions by, women at all levels of
consultation and decision-making;
raising renewed social awareness through "active
citizenship" thereby bringing decision-makers closer to citizens'
promoting a different philosophy in town planning, specifically
focused on human values;
giving impetus to change in a society, which on the whole, has
become increasingly diverse.
GENDER IN A PLURAL SOCIETY
account social, cultural and historical relationships between women and
men is essential for initiating any change and will eventually require :
establishment of parity in decision making for ensuring equal
opportunities for women and men
development of a new culture commonly shared by men and women, in
which gender-related studies and concerns will be part and parcel of
a balancing of the male vision with a women's vision and
perception as innovative elements in regenerating urban dynamics.
City is an organized Memory"
"Women are the forgotten ones in History"
(quote from the philosopher Hannah
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
conditions in the city - viz. the neighborhood 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.
women are doubly excluded as city users and as town and housing
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;
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
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.
many European and cities world-wide are going through a crisis
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
and if cities are to have any future at all, this handicap has to be
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.
Declaration in 12 Points
in the City and
citizenship must be approached on the one hand
through careful consideration of the influence of dwelling place
and on the other, of how representative authorities and economic and
political mechanisms in the city work.
2. Decision Making
and Parity in
Women at all times must actively participate at all levels of
the decision-making process in town planning, urban space, housing,
transportation and environmental quality.
Equal opportunities must be promote in education and research,
in the work places and in all professions related to town and country
planning, urban space, housing, mobility and safety in cities.
Egalitarian participatory processes must be set up for women
which will favor renewed ties of solidarity.
5. Daily Life
Daily life as seen through a woman's eyes must become a
6. Sustainable Development
Women must be fully involved in policies for maintaining the
ecological equilibrium on our planet.
7. Social Safety and
Every woman, and particularly underprivileged or isolated women,
must have easy access to public transport in order to circulate freely
and to fully enjoy economic, social and cultural life in the city. Women
too have a right to the
8. The Right to Housing and Habitat
Women are entitled to adequate housing and habitat.
9. Gender Issues
Gender issues in the city must be acknowledged as the source for
a newly shared culture and should influence a new town and country
10. Education and Local
Gender issues in cities must be taught in schools, institutes
for architecture and town planning, and in universities. Experimentation
in cities is urgently needed if any changes are to occur.
11. The Role of the Media and Transmitting Experience
The media must set out to spread messages which will counteract
stereotypes and show women in roles reflecting their development and
International Network will
promote the Charter and implement action of its 12 points.
criteria, Research, Action, Reference to other declarations)
the crucial elements and factors in a town
that affect particularly
women's everyday lives ?
By what means can women's
interests be expressed ?
Town planning and environment
meet the challenges of the 21st century , a new planning philosophy has
to be found, in which democracy as well as quality should be more
present. Women form the best potential to revitalise cities because they
are experts on everyday life. Up to now, they have remained
"invisible" and have been kept away from the field of
decisions. Starting from concrete actions which meet the real needs of
everyday life, they are going to enable us to revitalise the city
dynamics as well as renew the expert know-how regarding town-planning.
women, the choices which will enable them to gain more easily -as well
as in a more equal way- access to the range of possibilities offered by
cities are burning issues. Being able to get away from being cooped up
and/or isolation is a major asset to women’s personal development.
architecture and the organisation of a city are directly connected with
the violence which is to be noticed in the streets. Women should no
longer have to be considered as the only people in charge of their
personal safety. In order to achieve this goal, it is most essential
that safety in the city ought to become the expression of a
far as housing and fittings as well as other nearby facilities are
concerned, women are to be considered as experts on the future
development of life spaces. Whereas notions such as the appropriation of
shared life spaces and identification are in the heart of present-day
concerns, women who do not “have a room of their own” as Virginia
Woolf would say, can detect what is lacking in the building of another
form of urban and social dimensions. And such dimensions are essential
to improve the condition of cities.
idea is to establish a package of political measures as well as forms of
practice which will ensure durability and make significant democratic
Deconstruction the former processes, designing new kinds of knowledge
and of know-how, and their quick transmission form the key strategy for
• Higher education and research
Because education is a driving force and a vector of social change.
• 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
• Determining concrete achievements at local level -experiments
fields on a real scale - is essential. They should promote support for
urban and social change.
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.
City & Shelter / Roland Mayerl
GROUPE CADRE DE VIE
FOPA -Dortmund Ursula Heiler
Adlerstrasse 81 D-4600 Dortmund Tel: (49-231) 143329
Fax: (49-231) 162174
GR-Athens 117 42 Tel: (30-1) 928222
Fax: (30-1) 9228234
NL-2500 gv den Haag
Tel: (31-70) 3469652
Fax: (31-70) 703617422
FRANCE: Jacqueline Coutras
ITALY: Bianca Beccali
NORWAY: Alice Reite
NETHERLANDS: Marijke van Schendelen
Etude soutenue par
la Commission Européenne en 1994 - 1995