By Dr Donnell Davis (Queensland Panel)

This year the Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW63) has a theme that extends to inclusive infrastructure. Because we comprise half the population, women should have a say in the
decisions for a vital and responsive living environment appropriate for women, children, elders, and vulnerable communities. This extends to policies, processes and community practices for:

  • Town planning (urban design and regional planning)
  • Social, technological and economic infrastructure (schools, hospitals, transport systems, access to essential services, wifi-communication technology, accessible community meeting and eating places, green recreational areas and safe public spaces)
  • Family-friendly design (so kids can play safely)
  • Intergenerational access – universal design (for elderly and impaired)
  • Culturally inclusive principles
  • Design for crime prevention, vitality for safe mobility, visitation and daily use
  • Micro-architecture for homes, multiple dwellings, intensive housing
  • Macro-planning for preventing and mitigating climate disasters
  • Regional food production for urban populations

This requires a feminist lens: through concentrated input by women to go further than the engineering excellence and atheistically acceptable, beyond bean-counting for project cost-benefit,
towards inclusive community benefit, regional resilience and national security. Furthermore, following the UNODC work on Femicide, there are some basic improvements that can be actioned with community and professional education and very little funding. This year, CSW63 is allowing evidence to the commission through inclusive long distance virtual means. A report Preventing Femicide through Urban Design (Multiple Scale toolkits)’ is being presented. This is scheduled for COAG meetings in Australia after a previous effort in 2015 resulted in only 3 of the 8 states endorsing support. There is more evidence than ever for the need for family safety. One in five families endures domestic violence (Australia), urban mobility is a perceived high risk for women, and globally 72% of those who die from climate extreme events are women.

A summary of the report delivering to CSW63 Preventing Femicide through Urban Design includes:

(1) Safety for women = safety for all
(2) Women’s voices speak for children, elders, disabled, vulnerable, voiceless communities
(3) Safety for women is broader than harm arising from crime against the person
(4) Harm includes loss of basic essentials, like safe shelter, safe food, clean air, clean water, and
protection from existential threats of danger, disaster and disease.

Summary of Toolkits

So what is happening in Queensland? This month more women were appointed to the Building Services Board. We seek 50/50 parity. However, even though more women are graduating as qualified professionals in the urban design disciplines (with town planning, architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, social planning, economic development, water management, climate science, participatory decision-making, environmental law, regional governance, sustainability policy and ethics), less are actively working and getting paid for contributions in this space.

More women are community volunteers, but their voices are not being taken seriously. Even in the Planning and Environment Court, there are barriers to participation. So femicide is not being addressed adequately under our current systems, in a way that incorporate women’s voices.

This matter needs to include other ministerial portfolios in order to advance inclusive infrastructure.

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