Do you know what a friendly city is? It would be a place where every group could walk freely down the street. There will be no under-stock toilets, no benches, no contemptible glances. There are only diverse design ideas, and there are public spaces with inclusive design everywhere.
Do you know how many cities in the world are designed by men?
One second, two seconds, three seconds...
The answer is that, if not all, most, of the world's cities are designed by men (Hegarty, 2019).
Let's go back to the forties and see where it all came from. Urban planning and design after World War II was largely influenced by Le Corbusier, whose design center was dominated by the image of a six-foot-tall British policeman, extending to the design ideas and prototypes of stairs, streets, doorknobs, etc. (Wainwright, 2021).
In a city modeled on male architects, you will see the unfairness of structural differences between groups.
Can you imagine?
Is it the mood for a mother pushing a stroller from the MRT, or a faltering elderly person, or a physically or mentally handicapped resident? Men may step briskly on the upper steps, and they struggle to cross from one step to another.
It was the world from 1940 to 1980. In the 1980s, some women, fed up with the fear of pushing strollers or shopping carts in the dark underground passages, formed the Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative to try to push the needs and desires of other groups into the design of urban development (Wainwright, 2021).
European Cities DEI: From urban spatial streets to visible traffic signals, gender mainstreaming is everywhere
Fast forward to today, although some cities have begun to move towards the "gender equality of the city" design.
In 2019, BBC journalist Stephanie Hegarty visited Barcelona to take readers to see what a women-designed city looks like: barcelona has turned the fantasy of a "women-friendly city" into reality, from the need for more toilets for women, the ubiquity of favorite recreational facilities, the benches on the streets for rest, to the safety information needed to walk on the streets in the dead of night.
In the city, female urban planners see the needs of female groups and the physiological differences between the sexes. They crouched down to listen to every footstep that passed, took these sounds to their hearts, and then drew prototypes one by one, bringing all their imaginations to life.
Traffic lights illustrated by gay companions in Madrid, Spain. Photo| Tatsushi Images/Associated Press
Another city, Vienna, also began to look at grass and trees, bricks and tiles with a woman's eyes soon after. They designed spacious streets for mothers pushing strollers, then flipped the gender role frame and affixed illustrations of men with children to parent-child seats (Illien, 2021). This makes the mother pushing the stroller no longer struggle to move forward, and the parenting also jumps out of the gender restriction.
Vienna went a step further, seeing the possibility of multiple genders in both sexes.
You'll see "transgender crosswalks," traffic lights with illustrations of same-sex couples, and LGBTQ+ travelers holding the city's QueerCity Pass (Illien, 2021).
These thoughtful designs are telling the underrepresented group that you are in Vienna, there is no difference, there is no embarrassment.
What these cities want to create is not just gender equality, but to allow "Gender Mainstreaming" to penetrate into all corners of the city, from policy formulation, research, resource allocation and project planning and implementation, all with a "gender perspective" and "achieving gender equality as the goal" as the starting point (Illien, 2021; UN Women, n.d.）。
"Gender mainstreaming" was an important demand put forward at the Fourth World Conference on Women of the United Nations in September 1995, hoping to implement gender care such as gender perspectives and experiences in all aspects of the social structure: legislation, policy formulation, planning, program design, resource allocation, talent development and organizational construction, implementation and supervision, etc., to create a society that conforms to gender justice. Gender mainstreaming is therefore not a matter of well-being for a particular population, but about the well-being of all humankind. A more complete picture of the historical context of "gender mainstreaming" can be traced back to the First United Nations Conference on Women in 1975 and the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979.
Therefore, we can see the plight of women, hear the desire of men to raise children, and understand that the design of cities also needs to consider the possibility of transgender and same-sex love, so that gender issues are no longer a tear-jerking revolution.
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Asian Cities DEI: Tigers Start with Corporate Governance within Cities
How much do we in Asian cities do for different groups?
Compared with The Gender Equality in Europe, which is presented in urban planning, Singapore starts with a corporate policy. As an international talent hub, Singapore has prepared a starter kit for enterprises to create a "culture of inclusion", the One Workplace Initiative, to help them, so that expats can not only better integrate into local life, but also give them a sense of belonging in the company (Ministry of Manpower, 2021).
In leadership positions, the Singapore government has established the Council for Board Diversity to increase the proportion of women on board (Council for Board Diversity, 2020).
We can imagine that today there are councils that promote the proportion of women on boards, and perhaps in the near future, other types of councils will be established to promote and increase the proportion of other underrepresented groups such as LGBTQ+ on the board.
Taiwan City DEI: Starting from the policies of each county and city, and then entering the daily film festival
Turning our attention back to Taiwan, Taiwan's gender equality in Asia has always been at the forefront. After the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2019, cities and counties have been promoting and implementing different policies to create "gender-friendly cities".
In recent years, various counties and cities such as Taichung, Kaohsiung, Lianjiang, and Hsinchu have promoted the "Gender Mainstreaming Implementation Plan", incorporating and implementing the gender equality perspective in the thinking and policies of each project, and promoting gender awareness among civil servants through training, etc., to build a gender-friendly public sphere for the people of Taiwan (Executive Yuan, n.d.a).
Various counties and cities in Taiwan also optimize the implementation of different DEI policies according to the "industrial development" and "demographic characteristics" of their cities, especially through policies to enhance "workplace inclusion", followed by the design of integration in urban public spaces. In addition to the implementation of specific policies, all counties and cities have promoted people's awareness of DEI through cultural and artistic strategies.
The Gender Equality Policy of New Taipei City and Miaoli County focuses on the plight of women in the workplace, and promotes women's participation in decision-making and governance through policies to increase the influence of women 's community (Executive Yuan, n.d.a).).
Taipei City has taken a step forward by incorporating "gender equality" into its CSR selection form, allowing companies to lead by example, from equal pay for equal work to in-house gender training, and is committed to uprooting gender discrimination in the workplace (Executive Yuan, n.d.b). Put women in a workplace where they spend 8 hours a day on the same starting point as their male peers.
Some counties and cities have extended the word "equal rights" from "gender" to other diversified aspects:
- The New Taipei City Government has created gender-friendly toilets and through "Inclusive Design" to meet the needs of users of all ages in addition to gender (Central News Agency, 2021). In addition to thinking about gender, New Taipei City has taken a big step, incorporating age differences into the imagination of friendly toilets, and letting society think about the needs of this group together.
- In order to create a friendly city, Taoyuan City has translated the materials for promoting the sex pacification movement into 7 different languages such as Indonesian and Vietnamese, hoping that new residents will feel a sense of belonging (United News Network, 2022).
From the perspective of text and art, the seemingly heavy themes are transformed into catchy words and films. I also took off my serious coat, so that the creation of a gender-equal city had a more approachable flavor.
For example, on last year's "International Girls' Day", Taiwan wrote "Taiwan Girls Day" instead, through the Tainan "Taiwan Girls" theme book fair, Pingtung women's theme exhibition, Taichung Daughters Museum achievements series presentation, Chiayi women's theme online exhibition, Miaoli Girls Talk Room, Hsinchu Sex Flat Film Festival, etc., so that girls from all over Taiwan into everyone's sight, but also to the front (Executive Yuan, 2021).
There are also micro-film festivals held by the Executive Yuan, taichung municipal government "sexual flat roaming" special exhibition, Taipei city government women's theme parallel forum, etc., so that the public can absorb sexual flat knowledge from the films and lectures in life, and promote the shaping of gender-friendly cities.
Diverse, equitable and inclusive cities: the needs of every group can be taken care of
We've made some progress compared to the plight of underrepresented groups in the '40s, at least we're on the road.
Maybe one day, we will no longer have to tremble and say what our gender identity is, or who we love, for fear of breaking the law and being spurned;
Maybe one day, we will no longer need to use gender as data analysis to prove how well a company's diversity and inclusion are;
Perhaps one day, global urban planning can not only protect the quota through policies, but also participate in the design, and the design will naturally think about the diversity of users and maximize the inclusive design.
Pluralism should have been taken for granted; communion, which should have been everywhere.
Before we reach the other shore, let us continue to work hard, because there is still hope on the road.