Someone I know is interested in designing parks that are ‘women and children friendly’. Immediate responses from a couple of men “Do you mean parents and kids?” “Do you mean mothers and children? I think you should clarify.” It still bothers me that their comments bothered me but I didn’t say anything to them. I wish I’d said “Did you just…? Did you just assume that ‘women and children’ means mothers’ and under-5s? Did you just assume that the person speaking doesn’t mean exactly what she wrote? Are you saying that for the lack of an Oxford comma you can’t entertain the idea that ‘women’ and ‘children’ are two separate groups? DID. YOU. JUST. MOTHERFUCKER.”
I admit that it could have been a bit of an over-reaction.
What are some women and children friendly designs for parks/shared open spaces?
- Flat pathways (no cobbles) that gently ramp on hills
- Hooks for bags on the underside of picnic tables
- Seats at picnic tables that allow for tight skirts (no lifting legs up and over a stupid bench seat)
- Bench seats with flat-wide armrests for 1.5 or 2.5 people (a person and a bag; an adult and a child; 1 child having a nappy change; 2 adults and a bag; 2 adults and a child; 3 children; 2 children and fish’n-chips; 2 teens canoodling etc)
- Seats at different heights
- Low hedges that define spaces without impeding sight-lines
- Planting that is not right up to the pathway
- Wide paths that allow buggies two to a path without having to side step off the edge into the grass (Okay, yes, this is a parent one) or for plenty of space between people
This article How to design a city for women is quite focused on women as caregivers but it does end with this “It’s become a way of changing the structure and fabric of the city so that different groups of people can coexist.” which is what I’d like to see.