Co-Creating Urban Femina: Towards Caring Cities

By Maru Comojo, Sarah Gamrani, Claire Griffith, Vivi Herrera, Mili Hurtig, Belén Iturralde, Lea Lewitan, Julia Munroe, and Inés Tijera

“je demande «juste»
à pouvoir marcher librement
sans crainte,
ni peur,
à n’importe quelle heure.”

“i’m «simply» asking
to be able to walk freely
without dread,
or fear
at any time.”

“«solo» pido
poder caminar libremente
sin temor,
ni miedo,
a cualquier hora del día.”

“paris furie douce”, by Sarah Gamrani. Published in September 2019.

Women’s perspectives have not been taken into account in the way cities are made. Not only has urban planning traditionally been male-dominated, but so has academia. As students of the 4CITIES Master’s Program, we would like to address the urgent need to include feminist perspectives in how our cities are being shaped. This is how Urban Femina was born.

Urban Femina is a transdisciplinary collective interested in exploring, discussing, and analyzing urban issues in critical and empathetic ways. The initiative started with a group of nine students from the 12th cohort of 4CITIES with the idea of expanding academic knowledge into our daily practices while at the same time learning from local communities. Maru Comojo, Sarah Gamrani, Claire Griffith, Vivi Herrera, Mili Hurtig, Belén Iturralde, Lea Lewitan, Julia Munroe, and Inés Tijera initiate this exploratory space through which people interested in feminist urbanism can come together to reflect and imagine cities in which all identities are valued. We choose this perspective because we want to live in a world where collaboration and solidarity replace self-interest and competition. A world in which, to paraphrase feminist theorist Iris Marion Young, social justice is not only about what we possess, but also about how we are treated.

Our feminist perspective is rooted in our daily experiences and lives as women from different backgrounds. We understand feminism as a process, and not as a given solution or endpoint to urban issues. Urban Femina continually seeks to elevate marginalized perspectives; our goal is not to speak for them but to create the circumstances in which they can speak for themselves. To do so we propose engaging in three spaces of action:

Academia

complementing our classroom learning experience with critical feminist perspectives through peer to peer discussions which ground theory in our everyday life experiences;

Praxis

opening spaces for artistic expression, place-making, and co-learning where we can apply the knowledge generated through academic inquiry;

Connections

connecting, celebrating, and collaborating with local initiatives and organizations in our four+ cities as we feel our way into kinder and more inclusive cities.

Urban Femina will facilitate at least four projects during this semester in Vienna:

  • Feminist reading circles;
  • An open dérive in a Viennese neighborhood;
  • A feminist walk in the context of Jane Jacobs’ anniversary week;
  • An art exhibition.

These projects are already underway! We would love to hear new ideas and perspectives from whomever is curious to reflect on these issues with us. We are aware that there is still a lot of work to do and gaps to be filled. Join us on our journey on Instagram and Facebook!

Through this process, we hope to better equip ourselves as urban practitioners to shape the world around us with feminist perspectives and values. Urban Femina is a starting point. Walk with us.