RIDEF Reggio Emilia: The City of women and girls, Pilar Fontevedra, FIMEM President
In order to talk about the city of women, I'd begin with Christine de Pizan, from Venice, and her book, written in 1405, “The Book of the City of Ladies”. Through this book she asserts that women's nature is as suited as men's to carry out many different tasks, the intellectual ones included, peculiar to a public situation. Christine de Pizan builds her City on Reason, Honesty and Justice, making an environment of relationships based upon rights, that's a citizenship space.
City and Citizenship
The starting point of citizenship begins in cities, where nevertheless can also be found models of gender inequality and of sharp separation between public and private, linked to male and female respectively. Moreover, this one-sided planning of space makes uneasy to reach the city advantages and most of all women have to pay for lack of parks, gardens, infrastructures or absence of security.
On the contrary, in planning cities according to a gender approach, we see that not only women's needs are fulfilled, but also other citizens' (children, elderly or disabled people), because the plan and the governance of the city are consistent with sustainability and security goals. Life quality for each male and female citizen comes from benchmarks consistent with economical requirements as well with social ones.
The city as social area
Space is the exact mirror of society's values, its social classes, the idea of family and of male and female roles played in that society. Modern cities are shaping children's minds: boys and girls learn how to move in a city looking at their elders. They both will reach full citizenship when women's tasks in society are fully acknowledged and that's something to be seen in public areas, how much women mean to the city. When female shapes can't be seen in a town, that town is built by men and meant for them.
Violence against women and girls
Whether walking in a town or travelling by public transport, going to school or selling goods at the market, women and girls are at risk of sexual harassment or violence. As these facts threaten the women every day, they have far less chances to get education and work, to take part in political life or, simply, to enjoy their neighbourhood.
"In no city or country of the world women and girls are safe from violence. No leader can declare “Nothing like this is happening in my backyard”.
Michelle Bachelet, Chile President, former UN executive director for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality.