Full feminist town planning approach in Glasgow considered by Green councillor Holly Bruce

A new councillor in Glasgow has said she would be keen to look into a “holistic” feminist town planning approach – bringing together policies and plans to make the city a safer and more welcoming place for women.

The newly-elected councillor Holly Bruce, who won against SNP council leader Susan Aitken in first preference votes, said women’s safety and inclusion in politics is “vital” for all councils in Scotland.

The 28-year-old Scottish Green councillor told Scotland on Sunday she thinks a “holistic” feminist town planning approach is “an important tool” for ensuring this.

Feminist town planning is the approach of reconsidering town infrastructures (largely built by and for men) with women's safety and mobility at the heart of plans.

Scottish Greens councillor Holly Bruce has said she would be keen to look into a “holistic” feminist town planning approach for Glasgow (Photo: Christian Gamauf).

Pointing to a future Green pilot scheme on free transport, Ms Bruce said projects such as this will ‘open the council’s eyes’ to a greener and safer space for all.

The councillor for the Langside ward said: “It’s still early in the job and I need to look at all the papers involved, but I’m keen on making sure gender mainstreaming and women’s issues are talked about in every single committee and every single working group - not just considered a tick box at the end.

“Cities for years have been made by men for men. Men don’t understand the day-to-day struggles women have which can be simple things like transport.”

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Research from YWCA’s Scotland last year showed around 67 per cent of women often feel unsafe or uncomfortable on buses in Glasgow.

The report recommends increased lighting at bus stops and parks as well as one simple ticket for all modes of public transport.

Councillor Bruce, who was one of the participants on this research programme, said she is looking into such measures.

Engender, Scotland's feminist policy and advocacy organisation, has backed action to introduce a full feminist town planning report at local authority level.

Alys Mumford, the organisation’s communications manager, said: "Local authorities have control over a huge amount of issues which impact on women’s every day lives – from schools to public parks, alcohol licensing and cycle lanes – and by committing to consider equality in everything they do, they can have a huge impact on women’s safety, access to resources, and ability to get the most out of where they live.”

Ms Mumford said “the time is right to bring feminist thinking into our local democracy”.

Councils are still a long way to go in achieving gender balance. Despite making up 52 per cent of the population in Scotland, women only make up 45 per cent of MSPs and 35 per cent of councillors.

Ms Bruce said it is "fundamental” more women are involved in politics to implement measures which best serve women.

Talat Yaqoob, co-founder of Women 50:50 said Scotland continues to have a “democratic deficit” due to continued barriers and exclusionary cultures across our politics.

Ms Yaqoob added: “More women in our local councils is one method to improve decision making for women.

"Along with this, we need our local councils to create more accessible routes to influence decision-making for all communities beyond the election cycle and build the skills within councils to design policy which genuinely works for women and marginalised communities."

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