When realizing public green areas, too little consideration is given to the wishes of young women. English researchers conclude that. The young men’s preferences are often the starting point, which means that women use green less and feel less safe there.
How public is the public space? Urban geographer Gerben Helleman asked this question in an article last year Area development.nu. His conclusion is that public space is less public than we sometimes think. Based on written and unwritten rules, different places are assigned a specific destination for specific target groups or purposes. And that is worrying, Helleman describes. “The more we plan public space from above, the less public space can do what it is intended to do: be accessible to more groups and purposes.”
Lack of knowledge
In the just published report Make room for us English researchers from the Yorkshire Sport Foundation confirm Helleman’s concerns. Since last November they have been using analyzed. This has been done through observations, interviews and questionnaires. The main conclusion: young women are twice as likely to feel unsafe in these places compared to the male teenagers surveyed. The women also indicated that they often fear intimidation and other threats.
The researchers attribute this to the way these parks and other green spaces are designed. Often (young) men’s wishes are the starting point and women’s wishes are therefore not reflected in the design. It is often not a conscious choice by (area) developers to classify the parks in this way, say the researchers. Rather, it is due to a lack of knowledge about (young) women’s wishes when designing public green areas.
Conscious choice or not, the implications for the young women examined in the report are troubling. Young people use the green for sports and recreation. But because the design of the parks does not meet the wishes of the women, they do not feel comfortable there. They use the green much less. In the survey, 48 percent of the women state that they make use of the green. For the boys, it is 63 percent.
‘Out for a run. full length of young couple in sportswear walking down city street together’
by G-Stock Studio
As a result, they also exercise much less than their peers. Only two out of ten young women surveyed indicate that they exercise every week. Four out of ten teenagers play sports among boys. At the same time, 20 percent of women state that they avoid exercise, compared to 7 percent of boys. In comparison, three in ten young women across the UK say they exercise every week, and just 10 per cent say they avoid exercise.
Involved in renovation
The same research shows that seven out of 10 women would like to exercise. And it is, according to the researchers, precisely the proverbial hole that the developers of the green must fill. The research also shows that girls participate far less in associations than boys. Public green spaces are therefore the low-threshold way to encourage this group to move. First, say the experts, the starting point must be the young women’s wishes.
Therefore, this group must be involved in the (re)decoration of the green space. Existing parks must be designed in such a way that they become meaningful for this group. Increased security is the starting point here. In addition, the moments for social interaction during training can be increased. Furthermore, there must be sufficient guidance and direction for the women to take the step towards moving. Think fixed, monitored sports moments or organizing events.
More inclusive green
The researchers hope that their work will inspire other (area) developers to work with the new insight. The goal: to design public green areas in a new way. “If we can make the green more spacious for young women, we can make the green more spacious for everyone. Parks can play a greater role in improving physical and mental health by inspiring and encouraging young women to be more active and experience the joy and freedom of being outdoors.”
Cover: ‘Women play sports in a park’
by Photo Volcano