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Emma Smolik

Female Forward

Strategies for Gender Inclusive Streetscapes and Urban Design


Female Forward is a set of urban interventions that set new design standards and consider women and other genders to create safer and more inclusive urban environments. The main intervention strategies for female forward design are safety, equity, mobility, and socialization. These strategies consider the safety of users from accidents and crime, inclusiveness of public spaces, ease of mobility for pedestrians, bikers, and public transit passengers, and continual use and population of social spaces. Together these interventions create a greater sense of community surveillance and feelings of inclusion in the urban landscape.

Historically, design standards have been set by the male gender. Women's safety and gendered design is a long standing global issue. Women and LGBTQ groups often find themselves feeling uncomfortable and unsafe in urban streetscapes, especially at night and when traveling alone. As a result, these groups have been taught to practice different coping mechanisms such as traveling in groups, carrying self defense mechanisms, and always having a phone close to place an emergency call. What if, instead of expecting marginalized users to adjust and adapt in these male-dominant urban environments, gender perspectives are considered in design to create landscapes that make all users feel safe?

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