Gender Mainstreaming as exercise for urban planning – Lessons from the CIB Annual Meeting in Vienna

The annual Meeting of UCLG’s Working Group for Capacity Building (CIB) was dominated by contemporary and pending topics relevant for local governments and associations active in decentralized cooperation. Along these topics was Gender Sensitivity and the question how it can be better integrated in the work of the CIB members.

The tree day gathering in Vienna hosted by the Austrian Association of Cities (Städtebund) and its center for public administration research (KDZ) provided space to discuss the work of CIB and its members, to exchange experiences and to plan common action. Already in the last years gender sensitivity and its mainstreaming into concrete action was a topic that got a lot of attention within the group. Therefore, this year’s agenda of the meeting considered this demand and interest strongly in form of a dedicated break-out session and the invitation of UCLG Gender Expert Sandra Ceciarini. In addition to that, UCLG Learning organized a field visit on the topic of Gender Mainstreaming in urban planning.

The visit was led by Eva Kail, a gender expert from the city of Vienna who has been working in the field since 1986. After a short ride with the subway the participants arrived at the study area; Vienna’s former northern train station. After the closure of the train station, the area has been converted into a gender sensitive residential development. It is one of the first projects in Vienna where the city’s guidelines for gender sensitivity were applied and where a gender perspective was included in the conceptualization and design of the new neighborhood. As a result, the residential buildings have gender friendly common areas that take into account woman and children specific needs and demands. In addition to that, the buildings have children playrooms and common installations such as laundry rooms and a public kitchen. Furthermore, the urban design avoids dark of hidden spaces that could be places of fear for woman.

During the visit discussions and inspiring exchange between the local gender expert and the participants took place. The concrete example of gender mainstreaming into the build environment formed a great complement to the discussions before in the CIB meeting. In this sense, the CIB Meeting 2019 was not just a fruitful exchange of members but also an opportunity to foster learning between local governments and their associations.