Since 2012, Prague has taken significant steps towards the modernization of urban planning, trying to compete with other advanced European capitals by actively promoting and applying interdisciplinary and participatory methods to urban design and planning. The Prague Institute of Planning and Developent has taken the lead in developing this agenda, while documents like Strategic Plan, Metropolitan Plan, Manual for participation, etc., have been created. Meanwhile new discussion platforms have emerged: Metropolitna ozvucni deska, Ladime Prahu, and numerous other working groups where experts from different fields meet to discuss and communicate pressing issues of the urban realm. Simultaneously a significant number of active groups, initiatives and non-governmental organizations have contributed to this urban momentum by their events and activities (reSITE, Street 4 Art, 4+4 Dni v pohybu, Festival Zazit Mesto Jinak…).
While we consider these activities as necessary steps toward achieving a higher quality of urban design, planning and quality of urban life locally, there has been a significant lack of women experts present in these interdisciplinary discussions in Prague. Upholding gender equity as a value and applying its principles in modern and democratic urban design and planning should be a goal not only for Prague, but for every forward-thinking city.
There are many reasons why women are not presently participating in architecture, urban design and planning. There are many reasons why “soft” professions (those rooted in community and culture or art) are not being properly included in urban planning dialogue and practice. Due to lack of time, underdeveloped personal confidence, inequality in the workplace, rigid organizational and working structures, insufficient and unequal pay, overwhelming work that needs to be balanced with the pressing needs of partners, children or family care, women’s professional lives are more complex and constrained than those of men.
And while this topic is frequently discussed abroad, there is no professional network in Prague that’s capable of connecting women of diverse urban-related professions and bringing them together under an interdisciplinary umbrella.
Women Public Space Prague (WPS Prague) emerged in Spring 2015 as a response of seven women — architects, urban planners, researchers, cultural managers and a doctor — to the noticeable absence of women participating in recent urban design and planning activities in Prague.
WPS Prague aims to shine a light on women’s potential, growing women’s leadership and capacities to engage themselves fully in professions related to public space and increasing the quality of urban life.
In the long term, Women Public Space Prague aims to investigate barriers to female participation in urban design and planning, democratize decision-making processes in these and other related fields, and identify steps leading towards bridging the gaps we perceive. By collaboration, sharing personal and professional experiences, we want to support mentoring and sponsoring among women (and not only women) experts as a means to increase solidarity as an essential value in a more democratic and equal society.
Some of the specific steps we envision:
1. Map and build the first active database of woman experts from architecture, urban design, urban planning, community life, education, cultural activities, art, and research related to public space and increasing the quality of urban life.
2. Promote the professional activities of Prague women experts active in the fields mentioned above, of both the established and emerging generations.
3. Organize and co-organize events to exchange personal and professional experience of women experts, supporting them in building careers that are balanced with other aspects of their lives, and developing a deeper collective understanding of gender and equality issues in urban planning.
4. Advocate for increased representation of women experts in public debates, workshops and projects carried out in Prague that are focused on architecture, urban design and planning, community development, and cultural activities related to increasing the quality of urban life, and especially the integration of a gender-sensitive approach in urban planning practice. The platform aims to be an open door between the community of women experts and public- and private-sector institutions.
5. Carry out research activities and other forms of cooperation related to gender issues in architecture, urban design and planning. We welcome the cooperation of all similarly-minded universities, associations, institutes and individuals, whether inside or outside of Prague and the Czech Republic.
6. Inspire and encourage active women experts in these fields in other cities in Czech Republic and abroad.
1. Build a network of women experts in Prague (and abroad)
2. Develop and maintain an online database with profiles of inspiring women experts
3. Interview women experts, and promote their diverse views on architecture, urban design and planning and community development
4. Engage in research activities related to gender issues in architecture, urban design and planning
5. Organize educational and networking events, discussion clubs and workshops to empower women experts
6. Help the local community connect with similarly-minded organizations or inspiring individuals