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Will women-friendly cities become the next era of “authoritarianism”?

How close is the new thinking to dogma?

1Women Friendly Cities

With the growth of the black affirmative action movement and the gender affirmative action movement in the last century, and even now the sexual minority affirmative action movement. And as the gender equality movement moves into the public eye, the interdisciplinary activities of urban design and urban planning practitioners and sociological researchers of gender equality become especially important. Problems that may have been overlooked or not taken into account during the construction of the city may not have been noticed at the beginning, but they are gradually revealed with the promotion of the gender equality movement. Moreover, since the time it takes to renew the infrastructure of a city is very long for an average person, the impact of some small problems may last for many years.


So what is a female friendly city?

Morchadze, M. and Döbbeling, W. (2021). Point out on the United Nations website, there is a definition of a women-friendly city, which means that a women-friendly city is one where women

– Have access to healthcare, education and social services.

– Have access to employment opportunities.

– Have access to quality, comprehensive city services (e.g. transport, housing and safety).

– Have access to quality, comprehensive urban services (e.g. transport, housing and safety). Have access to mechanisms that guarantee their rights in the event of violence.

Are Cities in which.

– Local governments take women’s concerns and perspectives into account in planning and decision-making processes.

– Women are supported and encouraged to participate in all aspects of urban life on an equal footing with men.

– In essence, a female-friendly city is one in which all residents of the city benefit equally from the financial, social and political opportunities available to them.

Visitors to Vienna may notice the wide pavements for mothers navigating the city with prams or children (Credit: Luiza Puiu)


There are aspects of gender equality that need to be promoted not just by urban design practitioners across disciplines, but by society as a whole. For example, urban designers may need to be concerned about the difference in height between the height of a pram being lifted off a bus and the height of the steps on the pavement, yet the design of carriers may need to be standardised, including the fact that parenting may not only be a female’s responsibility but also another member of the family, and that members of other genders may face other barriers to parenting, yet the issue of prams is a small issue in urban design… However, the issue of prams is only one small issue in urban design…


2 Affirmative issues

Gender equality in modern society has almost made people forget the oppression of women before gender equality. However, according to Morin, K.M. and Jeanne Kay Guelke (2007). Women, religion, & space, in some areas where women are relatively disadvantaged due to religious influence, such as Jerusalem, people describe it like this:

It is very uncomfortable for me to go to Mea Shcarim; it is hard for me to acceptthe authority of somebody who is extremist and rejects me from humanity. They” will not accept me in all of the clothes that l wear and [ have to force myself to adopt their own identity and it is not comfortable for me, The same inchurches or mosques. (Sarit, Fenster interview,22 April 2000)

Mea Shearim is a less comfortable place for me. l cant dress the way I like….like to walk there but….

(Suzana, Fenster interview, 13 July 2000)


3 What makes these

In fact I really want to explore more than simply saying “female friendly” is dogmatic or overkill, which may be an attention grabbing headline, but here I want to ask the question: what led to the need for the city to go the extra mile and design the city with a set of female friendly standards. Or what was the way we went about building cities before female-unfriendly cities.

My view is that all cities are now male-friendly cities. What I’m trying to point out is that we can subconsciously build a male-friendly city and use that as a criterion for building our infrastructure, and that process is influenced by the social context of the time. The context in which the “male-friendly city” is moulded may be one of patriarchal authority.

According to Norton, S.T. (2023). It is clear from the existing literature that a firm grip on subnational politics, and urban politics in particular, is fundamental to the survival of authoritarianism. But our lack of theory about why and how cities are fertile ground for politically destabilising events is largely due to the fact that we seldom think of cities as social and political phenomena, rather than as a simple geo-graphic category. And while it may be the government or religion that builds these authoritarian and political influences, or the prevailing ideology, when the next ideology becomes dominant, it may become the next dogma that binds something new into being.



Any new idea that breaks the limitations to form a new trend may become the next dogma and thus limit other ideas, just as the Christian Church has become a classic case of cliché, but I think that the implementation of affirmative action in urban design in the construction of not only need to solve the problem on the drawing board but also need to have a balance of ideas in the spirit.



Morchadze, M. and Döbbeling, W. (2021). What does a Women-Friendly City mean? [online] Eu neighbours east. Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2024].


Morin, K.M. and Jeanne Kay Guelke (2007). Women, religion, & space : global perspectives on gender and faith. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press.


Norton, S.T. (2023). Demolition and Discontent: Governing the Authoritarian City. American Journal of Political Science. doi:

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