Blog by Mawa Karambiri, Doctoral candidate, Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland and one of the participants at ICLD´s Local Democracy Academy in Umeå 10-14th of June.
"Umeå, a city that I heard about but never get the chance to visit until now. As part of the first Local Democracy Academy organized by the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy, I attended a Gendered Landscape Tour of the city.
I saw concrete examples of how statistics come to life, gender equality patterns implemented in urban space planning. I have learnt that gender sensitive studies underpinned each steps of the city planning. In this blog, I illustrate some examples cities can use to create more inclusion in their planning."
1. Open and spacious train stations
The design and construction of the Umea Ostra Railway Station in full glass, spacious and well enlighten was informed by the identification of the most frequent users mainly composed of nurses and doctors from the nearby hospital. They often have to take the train late at night and they wanted to feel safe.
Umea Ostra Railway Station built in glass.
2. The Space free from Expectations
Another fascinating example to me is the “space free from expectations”, a marvelous place by the river for teenagers to hang out and socialize created by and following the preferences of teenage girls. A view of “The space free from expectations”.
Some academy participants enjoying the “Space free from expectations”
3.The green tunnel
I cannot forget to mention the green enlighten tunnel in the city center that addresses the fear of darkness typical of tunnels. In this regard, our tour guide Annika Dalén argued that we cannot guarantee safety in the tunnel but with our design, we can improve the sense of safety for all users, reduce loneliness in their journey while providing authentic and modern architecture. Indeed, the tunnel has an exit half-way, quotes from Sara Lidman, a Swedish poet on the wall and even the authors’ voice reciting those quotes. Yes, that is amazing!
View of the tunnel quotes showing the button to press for quotes’ recitation
Some academy participants in half-way of the tunnel.
Reflecting on this gendered landscape city tour, methods and approaches to city planning are not neutral nor are they blind, rather they are political. Therefore, gender equality must be planned. For that purpose, gender sensitive approaches need to be adopted throughout projects’ implementation.
NB: the photos are from the Local Democracy Academy participants taken on 10-11 June 2019.