The New Urban Agenda, adopted at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), invokes ‘the right to the city’ to proclaim a vision of ‘just, safe, healthy, accessible, affordable, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements to foster prosperity and quality of life for all’ (United Nations, 2017). This declaration reinforces the global commitment laid out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to enshrine gender equality as a pillar of sustainable urban development. Currently however, these international declarations are ideologically, conceptually and practically divorced from the on-the-ground production of urban infrastructure, as well as from narratives of the smart city.
There is no agreed way to include a gender perspective into the design of urban infrastructure which means women’s needs are often excluded from the design process. For many engineers and technology professionals, the link between gender equality, sustainable cities and ‘the right to the city’ remains nebulous. What, for example, does it mean to codify a gender perspective to transport networks, cycling infrastructure and public space design? And how would cities look and feel different if women’s experiences entered into design, planning and decision-making processes? This talk will explore how gender justice might be usefully incorporated into urban design in light of the smart city agenda.