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Me redesigning cities: women-friendly

In conversation with Florencia Andreola, founder of Sex & the City, the association that studies how to redistribute urban spaces to erase the gender gap


"The awareness-raising work we are doing together with our allies is big". Florencia Andreola has a degree in architecture. In 2020, with Azzurra Muzzonigro, she founded Sex & the City, a social promotion association dealing with gender urbanism. They study cities by putting experience in public space first. It varies according to gender, age and economic conditions.

"Today we advise public administrations. We adopt participatory methods to return collective space to women. We do exploratory walks in problematic neighbourhoods with residents and define potential improvements together with them. We listen to them in order to understand how to make the city an extension of their home".


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Among the most evolved cities in Europe on the subject are Vienna, considered a mecca to be inspired by, Barcelona thanks to the work of former mayor Ada Colau Ballano, and Umeå, a small Swedish pole that has rethought spaces by working on night policies. "In Italy we are still far behind. The only exception is Bologna, which with deputy mayor Emily Clancy is trying to pay special attention to the issue. A real activist in the administrative machine." underlines Florencia.

You have to start from the knowledge that public spaces are less used by women than by men. Why? In Vienna, for example, they discovered that parks, gardens and squares are not designed for women. Collective places were, therefore, redesigned in a participatory manner and defined for different targets: play areas for very young children and older kids, basketball courts, relaxation areas with hammocks. The topic of public toilets, then, is much more sensitive to the female gender.

In the Austrian capital, the goal is to have free services during the night and for children under 14. "In Italy, the politics of the common good is somewhat lacking, while abroad it is more widespread,' continues the co-founder of Sex & the City and author of "Libere, non coraggiose" (Free, not brave), a book published by Lettera Ventidue on 6 March. "We wrote it to focus on the issue of safety in the city. From the point of view of gender clearly. We attempt to deconstruct the narrative that orbits around women, understanding what fuels it and how it is instrumentalised. The goal is to bring more and more female bodies into the public space. They make it safer".


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Among the many paradoxes about safety in the city, the first is that women are afraid of strangers despite the fact that most violence takes place at home. Then that European cities have become increasingly safe over time despite the fact that the media tends to portray them as so many Gotham cities. Or that the collective narrative of women's fragile bodies contributes to their fragility. 'Our bodies are able bodies, let's use them and get used to thinking of them as such,' Andreola points out. Apps that monitor the most and least safe zones for women risk becoming more divisive than inclusive. Mapping an area according to the perception of the individual means indicating unapproachable zones. And therefore even more dangerous. It is thought to give women more freedom but in reality they are prevented from going where they want.

On 8 March, opinions are mixed. "Certainly the day is often instrumentalised. But it is also an opportunity for activists and feminists to take to the streets,' Florencia admits. It would be nice if it became a strike day like in Iceland. On the one hand there is domestic violence but on the other hand there is unpaid domestic work. A real tragedy."

For exhibitions on women's history and streets to be named after women (9% in Europe according to Mapping Diversity) there is no shortage of time: there is the rest of the year.



Illustration by di Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios