Planning, ownership and use of public areas by and for women
The different forms of sexism and harassment experienced repeatedly in public areas have a major impact on women’s lives and citizenship. Taking action with regard to public areas and how they are designed, planned and used serves to make the city more welcoming, accessible and inclusive for all.
Public areas are increasingly planned, shared and used from the standpoint of different genders.
Historically seen as predominantly male areas from which women were excluded, they were designed by and for men. Even today, men and women do not make the same use of public areas, a fact that can be observed from a young age, for example in the school yard.
With this in mind, gender-based harassment in public areas reflects the power relationships in play and is a means of showing women that they are not in their rightful place. These forms of violence have a major impact on women’s lives and their citizenship leading to mental charge, avoidance strategies, withdrawal from public areas and consequences in terms of the accessibility of certain areas and participation in local life.
Taking action with regard to public areas and how they are planned, owned and used is one means of helping create a more inclusive and welcoming city for all.
Feminisation of street names
The invisibility of women in public areas is regularly brought up in discussions relating to the way in which urban areas are designed and planned. It is particularly noticeable in the under-representation of women in street names dedicated to famous people.
In the wake of the 100Elles* project and motion M-2536 accepted by the Grand Council in 2019 requesting that the names of 100 streets in Geneva be changed over a period of three years, the City of Geneva is taking advantage of Equality Week 2020, focussing on the issues of gender and citizenship, to announce that an application has been submitted to the Cantonal Nomenclature Commission (CCN). This initiative has been launched with a view to changing the names of 16 streets, squares, parks and footpaths within the municipal territory.
250 feminised road signs in the City of Geneva
In January 2020, the City of Geneva changed 250 pedestrian crossing signs in order to increase the visibility of women in public areas. A series of six feminised pictograms now covers half of the road signs where previously only male figures were represented.
Replacing 250 of the existing 500 signs is designed to enhance the visibility of women within the city and to call into question representations of people who legitimately live there. As the vast majority of road signs are masculine, under the pretext of neutrality, this is a key action in opening up new avenues of thought on the presence of women in public areas. This is a pioneering project in collaboration with the Department of Infrastructures of the State of Geneva.
“Zero sexism at our events”
Within the framework of the considerations on the issue of “gender and public areas” a project is included in the action plan to address the prevention of sexism and harassment at public events organised and supported by the City of Geneva.
Entitled “Zero sexism at our events”, this project is divided into two pilot phases:
Mobile mechanism during events
During the first phase, a mobile stand was tested at 4 events or open-air festival venues within the City between July and September 2019: at l’Escale, la Pointe de la Jonction, during an evening event on the Ella Fitzgerald stage and during the Ville est à Vous event in Les Pâquis.
These awareness and cooperation actions with the municipality are conducted by the association We Can Dance iT, a label for egalitarian festive life. Calling on fun activities and prevention media, the team coordinating this mechanism stimulates discussion with the public with a view to spreading their message of awareness.
Working with the organisers
Subsequently, the City wants to work with events organisers within the municipality in order to gradually incorporate the prevention of sexism and harassment into all the organisational stages of events.
In 2019, 548 streets in the Canton of Geneva were named after men while only 41 were named after women. Streets named after people are chosen on the basis of only two criteria: the people must have left a lasting mark on the history of Geneva and have passed away more than ten years ago. Are men the only ones to have contributed to the city’s history? Or have women been forgotten in the collective history and the streets of Geneva?
Organised by the feminist association l’Escouade in partnership with the City of Geneva, the 100Elles* project aims to give women (back) their rightful place in the history and streets of Geneva
Since spring 2019, one hundred women meeting the official criteria to have a street named after them have been given a prominent place in the city. Alternative purple plaques paying homage to these women have been installed underneath the official road name signs around the different districts. Historians from the University of Geneva have written a biography for each of these women. The public can also take guided visits.
“Quinzaine de l’urbanisme 2019”: a night-time walk and guided visits
The City of Geneva participated in the “Quinzaine de l’urbanisme” (urban-planning fortnight) by placing particular emphasis on the issue of “gender and public areas”. Several collaborations were developed with partner associations.
On 19 September, a night-time walk through the districts of Les Vernets, La Jonction and Plainpalais was organised by the association Les Intégrales. The participants were invited to use all five senses to imagine urban spaces that are more inclusive for all.
A flash-conference chaired by Marylène Lieber, professor at the University of Geneva and a specialist in issues of gender and public areas, was held before this sensory walk.
Guided visits in the 100Elles* project*
On 17 and 22 September 2019, guided visits organised as part of the 100Elles* project run by the association L’Escouade allowed participants to (re)discover circuits exploring the lives of women* who have marked the history of the city.
«Sexism and harassment in public areas» action plan
Cette galerie, associée à cet article, contient 20 photos.
Article modifié le 09.06.2020 à 09:11