Is your city designed for women?
Last September someone invited women to tweet about what they would do if men had a curfew.
“I’d go for a walk in the dark without leaping out of my skin at little noises.”
“Running with headphones, music as loud as I want, on a trail with dense trees if I so choose, without getting a little panicky every time I’m alone on a stretch with a guy who’s behind me.”
“Public transit. I’d take all the public transit.”
“Oh, to enjoy a drink alone in a bar! Just me, my book and an excellent bartender.”
I’m reminded of this Twitter thread because this week marks the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, focusing on “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”
The UN says that means women’s right to walk safely in their community; to access affordable child care; to have a voice at the decision-making table.
These are factors in the social determinants of health; they’re also factors that the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives looks at when it ranks its best and worst cities for women to live in Canada.
The report’s author, Katherine Scott, examined the gender gap in 26 Canadian cities. She found “the largest gender gap is in leadership and political empowerment, a key factor pulling down the scores of Halifax, London and Montreal, and pulling up the scores of Sherbrooke, Victoria and Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge.”
One finding in the study was striking: women live longer than men in Canada, but not necessarily healthier—they report higher levels of stress.
What if we live a long life, but not our best life? And what can cities do about it? You can read my blog post on this issue here.
What’s caught my attention
Vienna designs things with women in mind: When a survey told Vienna officials that women use sidewalks, streets, and public transit differently than men, they started working on improved pedestrian mobility, public transit access, and better street lighting at night. Read about how Vienna is gender mainstreaming (upstream thinking!).
Gender-responsive budgeting: What does gender-responsive budgeting look like and why would it help a city like Toronto?
A shift is happening: Upstream Advisory Board member Armine Yalnizyan writes about how “The entry of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the U.S. and the exit of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from Trudeau’s cabinet are potent symbols of how the status quo is being challenged.” Read her oped here.
Great long read: Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg has made international headlines by telling the world’s leaders that they need to address climate change. “I want you to panic,” she boldly told a high powered Davos audience. Here’s an excellent essay on Greta and her journey.
Watch this delightful interview with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin about women’s friendship, including their own.
“The academic publishing system is gendered. As such, journals and editors are part of what has been called a vicious circle for women. We recognise the centrality and role of journals in the transmission of scientific knowledge and validation of academic achievement. We also recognise the evidence that shows women to be vastly under-represented in author, reviewer, and editorial positions across scientific and medical journals. These inequities are at odds with our values and track record of advocacy as a journal.” — The Lancet, special edition looking at gender bias in science, medicine, and health.
Trish Hennessy is a senior communications strategist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the director of Think Upstream