A Better City for Everyone: a Case Study on Barcelona's Gender Justice Plan

C40 case studies focus on the collection of data that allow city officials to better understand and account for gender differences in experiencing urban spaces and climate policies as well as transports, consumption habits and citizen engagement for climate action.

The second case study of the Women4Climate initiative was developed between November 2018 and January 2019 in Barcelona and has been conducted by the UCL-City Leadership Lab.

The city of Barcelona has taken a lead in gathering gender-disaggregated data, building its institutional gender expertise and driving gender-inclusive climate action.

In 2016, the city launched a ‘Plan for Gender Justice (2016-2020)’ – an action plan working towards the elimination of gender inequalities (Ajuntament de Barcelona 2016). The plan has four strategic areas:

  1. Institutional change: increasing institutional gender expertise via gender training or gender budgeting, for example.

  2. Economy for life and time management: promoting gender equality in employment and entrepreneurial support programmes, as well as promoting a gender-equitable division of domestic work.

  3. City of rights: addressing structural barriers that infringe upon human and social rights in the city.

  4. Liveable and inclusive neighbourhoods: ensuring that urban public space is safe for and inclusive of women and girls, which emphasises the need to address gender-based violence.

Under the fourth strategic area, the City of Barcelona developed a new Government Measure: Urban planning with a gender perspective (Ajuntament de Barcelona 2017). The measure puts daily life at the centre of its policies, using an inclusive approach to respond to the needs of all citizens. Daily life is broken down into four areas: productive (paid work), reproductive (carer and domestic work), community, and personal (such as leisure and sport). It recognises that urban planning ‘is no neutral matter,’ because certain aspects or sectors of society have been favoured at the expense of others over time, and not always consciously. Urban planning with a gender perspective focuses on people’s every day experiences – local people are experts and they are consulted to build bottom up collective.

Initiatives provided for under the new Measure include pilot projects for small- and medium-scale urban changes to meet the needs and experiences of daily life, as well as initiatives for institutional change.

Examples of small- and medium-scale urban changes include carrying out safety audits in neighbourhoods; a new bus network; and the integration of gender into a new Superblocks programme that is tackling city challenges such as lack of green space and high levels of air pollution.

Examples of initiatives to bring about institutional change include: organising skills-acquisition training in gender perspective for technical and executive staff; preparing a manual with gender criteria or experts involved in public-space projects; and drafting gender criteria and indicators for revising projects.

The city is also prioritising sustainable mobility and is gathering gender-disaggregated data to understand women’s mobility behaviour, patterns and needs. The data shows gendered differences in journey purposes and times: women primarily travel for family reasons, and then work, whereas men primarily travel above all for work. Women make more short-distance, frequent trips within the city that can be more encumbered, for example travelling with children or prams. Women make more trips throughout the day than men, especially between 11 am – 2 pm and 4 pm – 8 pm, while men make most of their trips between 5 – 8, reflecting gendered distribution of domestic labour. The data also shows that women use public transport more than men do. Therefore, from a gender perspective, it is important to incorporate local connections into public-transport services (Ajuntament de Barcelona 2017, p.7).

Currently, the City and Public Health Agency are evaluating the Superblock programmes in terms of health implications (i.e. noise and air pollution), changes in number of vehicles in the area and use of public space. They are incorporating a gender perspective, gathering data on women’s use and experience of the Superblocks, to understand whether the project is improving, exacerbating or not changing existing gender inequalities.