Feminist Cities

Feminist urban planning strives to create cities that are fair for all genders. It's crucial to ask: For whom were these spaces constructed? What kind of life is facilitated here – and what kind isn't? Experience the daily lives of residents in various parts of a city with this interactive map, get to know their stories and issues, and learn how to organize in order to make cities more feminist and just.


What Do Feminist Cities Look Like?

Gender relations in urban planning manifest in various aspects: in the length of daily commutes; in the accessibility of housing in the real estate market; and in the way care facilities such as daycare centers or supermarkets are organized.

Gender relations are closely linked to other power relations such as property, age, a history of migration and much more. That's why this map tells the stories of city residents in various life situations. They take place in three different parts of the city: in the old city center, in a large prefabricated housing estate, and in an informal settlement next to a luxury housing project. What problems do women, old people, children, queer people and poor people have to deal with there? And what could a city look like that is more feminist and just?

Feminist Cities - The Interactive Map

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A Short Trip Around the City

Here you can see a drawing of a downtown of the city, an old town with historic buildings.

Feminism and Urban Planning

Why are gender relations also found in urban planning? Mostly, it has to do with the distribution of work in society. In the binary gender model consisting of "men" and "women", it is traditionally women who are responsible for care work such as shopping, cleaning, or caring for family members, while men tend to pursue wage work. This model also underlies urban planning, which is problematic in a number of ways. We'll take you through the main issues that arise from a feminist perspective on the life in cities.


Sharing Perspectives

Through the binary gender model of man and woman, other genders are made invisible that experience oppression. Women, lesbians, intersex persons, non-binary, trans and agender persons share many problems and struggles with each other - yet their experiences are diverse and they are not always affected in the same way. The same is true for the interplay of gender and other power relations: The lives of a poor person and a rich person will differ in many ways, even if they share the same gender.

Gender-Specific Mobility

Woman brings child to daycare in a patriarchally organized city.
Understanding how cities can be more just starts with asking how people move around to meet their daily needs. In many cities, traffic planning is based on a certain ideal image: the white, heterosexual man in full employment. Thus, there are traffic connections (e.g., in public transport) that provide a direct route from housing estates to the centers of the city, the spaces of production and economy. However, as soon as routes between housing estates or small towns and villages become necessary - for example to take care of relatives or friends - you have to take a detour. This often affects women, since they are usually the ones who take care of children, neighbors and relatives.

Displacement and Touristification

A store owned by an international chain is opening in the city center, displacing long-established businesses.
Another problem is the displacement of people from the neighborhoods they live in. All over the world, city governments and residents are fighting against the sale of living spaces to profit-seeking investors, as well as the transformation of their living environment into a world of experience for tourists. In scientific terms, this is referred to as "touristification". It means that cultural and culinary offers and services are uniformly designed worldwide and tailored to the richest groups of tourists. Local businesses are displaced by multinational chains, and living spaces are often repurposed through lucrative short-term rentals such as vacation apartments.

Discrimination in the Housing and Labor Market

People move into an apartment because their apartment is now rented to tourists.
The distribution of housing is crucially based on income. But people can also experience discrimination beyond this in the housing and labor markets. This includes older people and people with biographies of migration, as well as people who are oppressed because of their gender. They earn less money on average and are thus hit harder when rent and food prices rise. Policies in the spirit of economic growth therefore do not establish equitable income distribution or redistribution, nor do they take into account the right to the city for all people.

Life in Informal Settlements

Drawn map of an informal settlement.
People who move from the countryside to work in the cities in times of mass migration often can't find affordable housing. That's why in many places people are building their living spaces independently, but informally (without building rights). These settlements are often tolerated, but the connection to the urban infrastructure must be organized by the residents themselves. They divert electricity networks - sometimes at the risk of their lives. Also they are often forced to use public drinking water points or to buy drinking water from the supermarket. This work is mostly done by women since men are more likely to work outside the home due to the traditional division of labor.

We Can Do it Differently!

Neighbors demonstrate against rent increases.
There are ways to resist the sellout of the city and to put up a fight! For instance, neighbors can unite to fight against increasing rents. There are also campaigns like "Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co" in Berlin, where 59.1% of the voters voted for the socialization of housing of big companies. Stores can be turned into communal spaces where people can network with neighbors and organize together against problems. In informal settlements, residents organize to fight for the right to the land where their homes are built on.

There is not one feminist city, but many!

The designs of feminist cities can be just as diverse as housing and living conditions - after all, it's not about following a set of rules, but about ideas of inclusion and equality, as well as fair access to space and resources. Using the interactive map, we hope to encourage you to imagine how a feminist city could be, understand its connections to social struggles, and make feminist demands regarding urban and housing policies.

Using and Sharing!

Texts, concept and idea by Anastasia Blinzov and Adriana Yee Meyberg. Development, design and programming by Monströös. Online editing by Alina Kopp. This post is published under the terms of the Creative Commons license CC BY 4.0 (external link, opens in a new window)! Share, use or adapt these contents for your educational work. Don't forget to republish it under the same terms, giving credit to L!NX and the authors!

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