Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tony Abbott's Ongoing Woman Problem

That's "woman", singular.   As in the only woman - the one and only - appointed by Tony Abbott to his 19-person (oh, to hell with it, 19-man) cabinet.  When you add in Tony, that's one in twenty, five percent which, I suppose, must represent the female demographic in Australia.

Oh dear.

Sorry, Tony, but you'll have to do more than prance about in a marble bag to keep the Australian women's vote.

Meanwhile, on the sane side of the world, Austrian officials have decided how to design a city for women following a transit survey that revealed how differently women use a city than men do.

In 1999, officials in Vienna, Austria, asked residents of the city's ninth district how often and why they used public transportation. "Most of the men filled out the questionnaire in less than five minutes," says Ursula Bauer, one of the city administrators tasked with carrying out the survey. "But the women couldn't stop writing."

Women used public transit more often and made more trips on foot than men. They were also more likely to split their time between work and family commitments like taking care of children and elderly parents. Recognizing this, city planners drafted a plan to improve pedestrian mobility and access to public transit.
Additional lighting was added to make walking at night safer for women. Sidewalks were widened so pedestrians could navigate narrow streets. And a massive staircase with a ramp running through the middle was installed near a major intersection to make crossing easier for people with strollers and individuals using a walker or a wheelchair.

The decision to look at how men and women used public transit wasn't a shot in the dark. It was part of a project aimed at taking gender into account in public policy. In Vienna, this is called gender mainstreaming.
Gender mainstreaming has been in place in the Austrian capital since the early 1990s. In practice, this means city administrators create laws, rules and regulations that benefit men and women equally. The goal is to provide equal access to city resources. And so far, officials say it's working.

Vienna has adopted gender mainstreaming in a number of areas of city administration, including education and health care policy. But nowhere has it had more of an impact than on the field of urban planning. More than sixty pilot projects have been carried out to date. As the size and scale of these projects increase, gender mainstreaming has become a force that is literally reshaping the city.


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