“Cities have long thought of ‘doing neutral’ when they do masculine”

Edith Maruéjouls works with her research and equality observatory workshop (Larobe) to support cities wishing to pursue more egalitarian policies in urban development. The approach is complex and the work long-term, explains the academic, who intervenes during the first assizes against gender-based violence, in Nantes, whose The world is a partner.

How has the consideration of the issue of gender-based violence by cities evolved?

For ten years, the question of the place of women in public spaces has been a political subject for cities. There is a statistical anomaly: most of the aggressors are men and most of the victims are girls or women. Moreover, girls are educated from early childhood to avoid in the public space and to fear. They understand very early that they should not go out at certain times, in certain places… From the age of 12, they are approached, arrested or harassed with complete impunity in the street.

Their taken into account in the development of public spaces is part of the concrete actions to combat violence. It’s very recent. Cities have long thought of “doing neutral” when they do masculine. Typical example: city stadiums or skateparks do not produce diversity, but “pockets” of men, in which women are de facto not welcome. Aware of this imbalance, the city of Montreuil, in Seine-Saint-Denis, launched the “Sport in the parks” operation: sports activities are offered to families. The formula works: women participate in the activities.

How do you support communities?

We work, for example, with the city of Nantes where a team important is devoted to the issue of gender-based violence. We start from the use of public spaces by women. In general, they move from one place to another, alone or to accompany a child or a parent. We listen to how they want to fit into the public space. We study how to allow them to immobilize themselves in places where they feel good, can socialize, play sports, make numbers.

Read also: These cities that act against gender-based violence

It is a global approach on what will be offered, where, when, how and by whom. We test temporary arrangements and see what they produce in terms of diversity. It is essential to experiment before deciding.

In your latest essay, entitled “Faire je(u) equal” (Double punctuation, 2022), you describe the playground as a miniature public space, the scene of the first inequalities between girls and boys… What is the challenge of your work? in schools ?

The playground is a mirror of the mobility of women and the occupation of space by men in the city. A handful of boys usually occupy 90% of the space with a soccer field. As in the city ​​stadiums, everyone has the right to go there, but it is the boys who decide whether or not to play, in this stereotyped space around performance and virility. To make the weight, it is necessary to build an alternative. The adult must be proactive.

What can he do?

Ask the children why it is important for society that girls and boys, as individuals, mingle and play together. He should also remember that both have equal value, work on the need to listen to each other and negotiate the occupation of public space.

School is the only place where girls and boys have an obligation to be together. But it is the absence of relationship that causes violence. To reduce inequalities and gender violence in society, we must start by giving children the opportunity to make I(u) equal at school.

This article is part of a dossier produced on the occasion of the first national meetings to combat gender-based violence organized by the city of Nantes and Nantes Métropole.

Information: Assizes-violence-sexists.fr

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