Councillor introduces motion for Glasgow to be first city in UK with feminist town planning approach
A ‘Feminist City' motion has been submitted to Glasgow City Council (GCC) by Green councillor Holly Bruce that states it is “fundamental that women are central to all aspects of planning, public realm design, policy development and budgets” to ensure public spaces are safe and inclusive for women.
Feminist town planning is the approach of reconsidering town infrastructures with women's safety and mobility at the heart of plans.
Taking such an approach can mean widening footpaths for those with prams or wheelchairs, increasing lighting in parks at night, or ensuring built infrastructures are as much a welcoming place for a woman as they are for men.
As Leslie Kern argues in her novel, Feminist City, such an approach “must look to the creative tools that women have always used to support one another and find ways to build that support into the very fabric of the urban world”.
Cllr Bruce’s motion, which will be discussed at Glasgow City Chambers next week, proposes to embed feminist town planning into the 2017 City Development Plan – the main policy document for the planning committee when new developments are proposed.
Speaking to The Scotsman, Ms Bruce said: “I’m really excited that we can now see geography and urban planning through a gendered lens and I’m very keen to pursue this work through the council.
“Safety is one of the aspects of feminist town planning, but it’s also about accessibility to public spaces and public services and affordability.
"Walking from A to B can be a bit of a nightmare for a lot of women, for example, disabled women, those who have children.”
The motion states women and people of marginalised genders have diverse needs that are not reflected in town planning.
Under the motion, feminist town planning hopes to be considered in new projects such as the liveable neighbourhoods scheme, which explores the concept of a 20-minute neighbourhood, allowing people to meet most of their daily needs within a 20-minute return walk from home.
It also includes actions on gender budgeting, following suit with Edinburgh City Council and North Lanarkshire, to ensure that gender perspectives are integrated into all stages of the budget process.
Earlier this year, Ms Bruce told The Scotsman she would consider a “full feminist town planning approach” after winning against SNP council leader Susan Aitken in first preference votes.
Feminist planning approaches in places such as Vienna and Barcelona can be learned from, according to the motion, to design spaces and services around women’s needs.
An intersectional feminist approach to town planning was focused on by the Young Women’s Movement (YWCA Scotland) in a project based in Glasgow around the time of Sarah Everard’s murder.
Cllr Bruce was part of the cohort involved in this research, making recommendations to Glasgow council on improving public spaces and services for women.
Jenni Snell, chief executive of YWCA Scotland, said: “The Young Women’s Movement fully supports Cllr Holly Bruce in bringing this feminist town planning motion to GCC, and we hope that Glasgow will now lead the way for other local authorities in making Scotland a safer place for women and non-binary people.”
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