From the favorable public spaces of women to women-friendly cities
Establishing equity in the design of urban public spaces as a platform for the formation of human relationships and behaviors, with regard to the social function of these spaces, and regardless of age, racial or gender divisions, is required to achieve a civil society. These differences between various human groups require adapted and appropriate physical spaces for the emergence and development of capabilities and increased willingness to engage in social and participatory activities. Meanwhile, women as half of the human population of cities are facing spaces that are largely based on men’s physical and mental capacities, and insufficient attention to the requirements of the presence of women in such spaces, diminishes the extent of the activity of this capable member of the society and reduces their effective participation in the social arenas. Since the public sphere is regarded as the most important aspect of civil society, it should be arranged in a pluralist perspective that does not restrict humanity’s different distinctions and perceives a different perception of women and men from the public spaces, and provides a framework for the growth and advancement of all citizens and the essential requirements for women’s rights in this field. Because wherever a part of the population cannot use it for any reason, such as lack of comfort and convenience or lack of security, the public sphere has actually been ruined and destroyed. Therefore, it is essential to consider the indicators affecting women’s activity in designing urban spaces and urban planning and design. Based on the opinions of experts in social and urban areas, due to patriarchal thoughts and in spite of the increasing presence of women in all social and economic activities in the present period, they have not yet been provided with systematic utility and attractiveness for their presence in public spaces, and the security category is often considered as the only element of the women’s appeal for presence in urban communities.
In urban spaces, in addition to the need for security, including examples of mental and psychological security throughout the day, identifying places of injustice and crime and eliminating their dilemmas, and providing adequate light in insecure spaces throughout the night, it is also necessary that the urban environment’s utility and responsiveness are provided in a desirable way for the presence of women. Considering the aesthetic components in city building, creating a suitable space for children, preventing the unnecessary gender segregation of the spaces, increasing the amount of environmental cleanliness, providing night-time facilities in the city, etc., can bring such an advantage. Also, urban amenities adapted to the needs and characteristics of women’s physiology such as urban furniture, health services and vehicles available throughout the day and night etc., are indispensable for a good public sphere for women in civil society and an incentive for women’s participation in social activities.
In a wider sense, the idea and concept of women-friendly city has been raised in many societies for many years, and civic programs have also been tailored to the specific cultural and social conditions of each country. The purpose of this idea, which refers to the adaptation of the city to the needs of women in various cultural, social, medical, health and other areas, is to create amenities that facilitate the activities of women in cities in all aspects and eliminate existing problems. For example, in the cities of Montreal Canada (1997), Seoul South Korea (2007), Istanbul Turkey (2007), and Kuchi India, precise plans for women-friendly cities have been devised to eliminate the obstacles to good urban living for women.