HerCity is a platform that involves women in urban development, in order to make better cities for everyone. Turning the tables and putting girls in the expert position, the digital toolbox aims to create more inclusive, equal, and sustainable cities and communities. The initiative makes methods and tools available to urban actors globally, in order to support cities in integrating girls’ participation in their long-term strategies.
Launched on Women’s day 2021, the guide for urban planning and design is a collaborative effort between UN-Habitat and Global Utmaning, the Swedish independent think tank. ArchDaily had the chance to talk with the team behind this digital toolbox, discussing the narratives, the process, and inclusive planning on a worldwide level.
Although cities are supposed to be built for everyone, they are, most of the time, thought through, planned, and designed by men. Research shows that girls and women do not use a city’s public spaces to the same extent as boys or men. “From the age of eight, 80 percent of the public spaces can be dominated by boys, and girls express that they feel significantly more insecure and excluded”. The lack of knowledge in participatory urban planning and design, on a decision-making level, is contributing to widening the gender gap and to the marginalization of vulnerable groups in urban development processes.
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HerCity aims to define and contribute to inclusive urban planning, where the basic needs of all individuals are considered. Providing an opportunity to build capacity on a larger scale, the platform provides a toolbox for municipal professionals, urban actors, and local decision-makers that involves girls and young women in urban planning and design. A joint urban development initiative by UN-Habitat (the United Nations Human Settlements Programme) and the independent think tank Global Utmaning (Global Challenge), with contributions from the Block by Block Foundation, White Architects, Swedish Union of Tenants, and MethodKit, HerCity is the result of the Urban Girls Movement launched in 2017.
The digital guideline presents a cost-efficient process that includes 9 building blocks on how to co-plan cities from a girl’s perspective. The 9 blocks represent the three phases of the urban development process. They guide the users through the assessment phase (block 1-3), the design phase (block 4-6), and the implementation phase (block 7-9). Moreover, each one of the blocks contains a number of activities with detailed steps to follow, and tools such as checklists, calendars, agendas, manuals, forms, boards, apps, templates, surveys, and visualization services.
To tell you more about the platform, ArchDaily's Christele Harrouk spoke with the team behind HerCity, from UN-Habitat and Global Utmaning. Tove Julin, Chiara Martinuzzi, and Christelle Lahoud were all responsible for coordinating the development of the platform. In this exclusive conversation, they walk us through the simple process and share with us insights from their personal experiences of working with public participation tools, around the globe.
Tove Julin is a project manager at the Swedish independent think tank Global Utmaning. Tove works especially with the think tanks program for Sustainable Cities as well as the program for Health and Welfare. She has a background in political science and development studies. Tove is part of the Her City team and coordinates the development of the digital toolbox for inclusive urban planning, together with the UN-habitat team.
Chiara Martinuzzi, architect and urban planner at UN-Habitat’s Global Public Space Programme since 2019. Chiara supports the work of the Block by Block Program and HerCity project to implement inclusive and sustainable cities. With a focus on gender and marginalized communities, Chiara provides technical assistance to local partners and contributes to the development of innovative guidelines and normative products to mainstream equality in urban projects.
Christelle Lahoud, a program management officer at UN-Habitat with a background in architecture and planning. Christelle manages the Block by Block program and co-lead the HerCity project at the Global Public Space Programme. Her work focuses on mainstreaming gender in planning processes as well as engaging vulnerable groups in city planning decisions. At the section level, Christelle supports the work on innovation and the role of technology in urban projects.