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If women planned cities they would like this: Zeenat Ghoor

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South Africa’s cities were not designed with women in mind. From insufficient pavements and safe walking spaces to scarce public toilets and family facilities, the country’s cities do not factor in the needs of the women and children who use them.

So, how would our cities differ if they were designed by women? We asked Zeenat Ghoor, director at Aspire Consulting Engineering what her city design would entail. These are her plans:

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South African cities have historically been designed based on apartheid principles. Our cities were designed around decentralised neighbourhoods and included incorporating infrastructure that would segregate and keep races apart and separate people with different levels of income.
Cities were designed to incorporate a car-based transport system. Post-apartheid planning has tried to incorporate transport modules from outside the city centres and has tried to decentralise city centres. Most public transport in South Africa is now the minibus taxi.
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For women to feel safe and included the following elements need to be present:
•Access – using services and spaces in the public arena free of issues and concerns around safety.
•Mobility – moving around the city safely, easily, and affordably.
•Safety and freedom from violence – being free from danger in public and private spaces.
•Health and hygiene – living and working in healthy spaces.
•Climate resilience.
•Security – accessing and owning land and housing to live, work, and build wealth that is safe.
We need to consider how and where we work, play, exercise, go to school, and receive health services. These spaces need to be safe, clean and accessible.
These are the aspects I would incorporate in the design space:
•Public toilets: Women need more space in a bathroom for prams and children and to cater for the fact women sit down when using toilets. Bathrooms should be bigger and have changing tables for babies
•Inclusive spaces that allow for a variety of recreational activities like soccer, playgrounds and using benches to demarcate the space for playing.
•Cleaner cities by having more bins and sustainable paving.
•Women-only transit opportunities such as designated bus areas for women only, especially during off-peak hours.
•Designated spaces for women where they can go for help – like booths or emergency callboxes to make calls.
•Mobile apps showing locations of public transport so women don’t have to stand and wait for transport.
•Larger parking bays.
•More light, more cameras, and greater visibility.

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