Gender Mainstreaming in Vienna: Designing a City for Women

by Eloise Giegerich


BRB, moving to Vienna. Following the discovery that women in Vienna, Austria’s ninth district used far more of the city’s public transit than men, city planners began to draft a plan to improve not only pedestrian mobility, but also access to public transit.

This innovative idea came about in 1999, after the distribution of a questionnaire to residents of the ninth district asking how often and why they used public transportation revealed that, while the majority of men reported using either public transit or a car twice a day to go and return from work, women used almost all of the city’s public transportation and sidewalk routes multiple times a day, making many more trips on foot than men.

As Ursula Bauer, one of Vienna’s administrators who helped carry out the survey recalls, “The women had a much more varied pattern of movement…they were writing things like, ‘I take my kids to the doctor some mornings, then bring them to school before I go to work. Later, I help my mother buy groceries and bring my kids home on the metro.’”

Some of the improvements made in Vienna since the survey are pretty awesome. Not only has additional lighting been added to make walking at night safer for women, but sidewalks have been widened allowing for easier pedestrian navigation, and a staircase with a ramp running though its middle has been installed near one of the city’s major intersections, making movement comfortable for people traveling with strollers and individuals using walkers or wheelchairs. 

Vienna has been focused on gender mainstreaming—that is, accounting for gender equality in public policy—since the early 1990s. As one might expect, the goal is to provide equal access to city resources for both men and women. And, in case you thought Vienna couldn’t get any dreamier, gender mainstreaming has been adopted into a variety of other areas of city administration including education and health care policy.

One of the city’s especially impressive urban planning projects is the “Women-Work-City,” which was built as a reaction to statistics showing that women spent a great amount of their time per day on household chores and childcare. Women-Work-City consists of a series of apartment buildings surrounded by courtyards, which contain circular, grassy areas where children can play without being too far from home. The complex also has an on-site kindergarten, a pharmacy and a doctor’s office, and is located close to public transit, making running errands and getting to school and work much easier. 

Today, more than sixty urban planning pilot projects have been conducted, with many others in development as you read. Vienna’s gender mainstreaming efforts have sparked coverage all across the media, and some of the city’s projects have even been recognized by the United Nations.

To find out more about Vienna’s gender mainstreaming projects, check out this site:

Thanks to The Atlantic

Images via The Atlantic (Josef Lex’s Flickr and archive Franziska Ullmann) and



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