Turley’s Gender Mainstreaming group - creating safe equal spaces
Turley’s Gender Mainstreaming group — creating safe equal spaces
As part of our plans to drive forward a more inclusive vision of doing business in London, we’ve launched a series of short interviews to find out what some of our members are doing to improve inclusion and diversity (I&D) within their own organisations. Today we hear from Turley on their Gender Mainstreaming group.
After a number of shocking attacks on women in London over recent years, significant change is needed to ensure the safety of women and girls. Built environment professionals have a vital role to play in creating spaces that are not only safe but allow everyone the opportunity to actively participate in public life.
We can support the development of a more equitable public realm through a Gender Mainstreaming (GM) approach. This approach asks decision makers to take women’s security and wellbeing into account as a matter of course. Gender Mainstreaming insists that the needs of women and girls must play an equal part in designing everyday infrastructure.
This is the focus of Turley’s Gender Mainstreaming group, working towards tackling unconscious bias and influencing policy change. We are collaborating with the public and private sector, exploring ways to use gender-disaggregated data to better understand women’s needs, and examining policies and statutes that can better support gender equity.
From our research, it is evident that the principles of GM are beginning to take hold across the country. In London, the Mayor and the Greater London Authority (GLA) are leading the way in adopting this approach in the public realm. A 2022GLA report1 provided a toolkit for built environment professionals to explore ways of adopting greater gender inclusivity in projects.
GM principles are also being delivered on the ground including recent approval for a women only social housing block in Ealing. The initiative is led by the charity Women’s Pioneer Housing in partnership with developer L&Q. This pioneering project is the first of its kind in UK social housing in terms of providing for women and including elements of good design and detailing such as lower worktops in kitchens, would be preferable for women and suitable for people of all genders.
Whilst positive strides are being made, research from the charity Make Space for Girls (MSFG) argues that the needs of girls are currently not considered sufficiently by those involved in creating parks and other similar public spaces, creating a sense that these spaces are ‘not for them.
A recent programme, ‘Young Researchers in Residence,’ by LSE Cities, in collaboration with MSFG, commissioned by Countryside Partnerships, L&Q and Sigma, aimed to address this and centred around five projects including one at Beam Park in Dagenham. Researchers took an insight-led approach to understanding the needs of young people, particularly girls, to ensure their voices were heard. This project demonstrates that a willingness to invest upfront, whilst being open and adaptable is needed to create inclusive spaces for all.
As a sustainable planning and development consultancy with a team in London, Turley has a central role to play. Our GM group is working with industry partners to develop awareness, knowledge and promote engagement with women and girls throughout the planning and design process to counteract unconscious bias. We recognise there is still some way to go and extend an invitation to the industry to share ideas and collaborate as we push towards a public realm which works for all.
Co-authors: Turley Gender Mainstreaming Group — Lindsay Hart, Emma Dickson, Rebecca Boston, Ffion Middleton, Fola Kalesanwo.