A city planning with a gender vision so that the city makes life easier for women

Ending unsafe spaces where sexual assaults can be committed, creating homes that facilitate co-responsibility, caring for dependents and the lives of people with disabilities and connecting better work and home are some of the contributions of the gender perspective to urban planning and architecture.

"Men and women live differently, we use the city differently especially for care activities: statistically it is women who mostly deal with these tasks", explains in an interview with Efe the Professor of Urbanism of the University Polytechnic of Madrid, Inés Sánchez de Madariaga.

Architecture and urban planning with a gender perspective aim for cities and buildings to respond better to the needs of both men and women, with special emphasis on accessibility and care tasks.

The design of the cities, says Sánchez de Madariaga, affects the combination of employment and care tasks with greater or lesser difficulty.

And it can limit the professional career of caregivers - caregivers, in most cases - and even make it "impossible to take care of a family and at the same time work full time."

Architecture has been a "very masculinized" activity built with "a bias from the masculine life experience", but the incorporation into this trade in the last decades of female architects is driving "a significant change" when it comes to understanding specific needs of the women that the city must satisfy.

"How do we make the city allow us to better live everyday life, particularly that of women, who are the majority who take care of other people?" Reflects the professor at the Polytechnic University of Madrid.


Improving not only security, but the perception of security that women have on public roads is one of the objectives of urban planning with a gender perspective: "The perception of security is very important because women stop going to certain places when we perceive that there may be a risk of sexual assault. We all know it from our personal experience. "

The possibility of seeing and being seen, of hearing and being heard, of being able to flee, of having people in close proximity and order or disorder are elements that influence the perception of security.

Thus, tunnels without visibility, blind walls or the edges of train tracks can pose potential risks to women. Therefore, the new paths try to respond to this reality and avoid these designs.

Sánchez de Madariaga indicates that since the 80s exploratory marches are carried out in which women residents in neighborhoods and architects and urban planners participate to identify security conditions and improve the city in this regard.


The gender perspective is not only fixed in the design of streets and public spaces, but also in that of buildings.

The lifestyle has changed, Sánchez de Madariaga affects, and the homes have to adapt to the different life cycles of individuals: people who grow old and need care, families that have small children that will take time to become independent ...

Sánchez de Madariaga, UN adviser on urban planning with a gender perspective, has participated precisely in the preparation of the draft of the habitability project and housing design standards of the Basque Country.

Among the measures included in the decree, there are larger rooms -of a minimum of 10 square meters- to adapt to the personal evolution of people living in the home -either a child who becomes an adult or a person who begins to be dependent- and larger kitchens in which two individuals fit to foster co-responsibility and communicated with the dining room.

"You have to think about these new situations that did not happen before because the extended family lived together under one roof. (...) This practically no longer exists and is one of the reasons that makes it so difficult to have children in the city" , emphasizes the expert.

In addition, the text prepared by the Basque government also requires that the common spaces of the buildings ensure the integrity of their inhabitants by avoiding the existence of dead angles, setbacks, corners, dark areas "and other spaces that may endanger security of users, especially in terms of guaranteeing security from a gender point of view. "

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