The Center for Girls Foundation has recently had the opportunity to work in collaboration with UN-Habitat in their initial research phase of possibly implementing the Her City project in Chiang Khong. UN-Habitat is a sector of the UN that focuses on promoting transformative change in cities and human settlements by using knowledge, policy advice, and collaboration.
Gender Inequality in Urban Planning
The Her City project, in particular, aims to involve girls’ input in urban development. It has been seen in several case studies that urban planning disregards women, girls, and minority citizens, such as in the case of Latin America. The parks have little lighting, making it an unsafe environment for women once it gets dark. There is a severe lack of public restrooms for women and the LGBTQ+ population. Also, the roads are in poor conditions which disrupt women more than men. Since it would, for example, be stereotypically the woman who is pushing the baby stroller along the low-quality streets. It is obvious that these cities in Latin America were made by men, for men. Further research has exposed that many cities have been built this way, with neglect of women’s needs. This is where Her City comes in.
Her City in Chiang Khong
The Her City project has taken place in over 350 cities across 100 different countries, guiding urban actors to implement projects that support urban development from a girl’s perspective. The initial research phase in Chiang Khong was to observe whether the project could be implemented successfully in our city. This involved 4 days of research with various target populations, including women from the Mae Ying Chiang Khong Council, women from different ethnic groups, and teenagers aged 13-18. This research consisted of questions such as: What is a public space? How could we make the public space safer? How is climate change affecting the neighborhood and public spaces? The answers that we gathered were different throughout the various research groups and it was particularly encouraging to see the perspective of the youth. They delivered detailed brainstorms of how their local public spaces could be improved in terms of climate change, safety, and social inclusion. By including input from younger people, particularly girls, a wider perspective is considered that will allow for the city to grow into a more diverse, inclusive, and equal place for future generations.
The Center for Girls thanks UN-Habitat for coming to work in Chiang Khong. It was a great learning experience for all, and we have received many positive responses from our target groups about their research workshops. We hope that Her City can be implemented in Chiang Khong to make the city accessible for all.
– Cheryl Li
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