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Brussels calls for projects to address gender bias in public spaces

Children play on a playground in Brussels. (BELGA PHOTO THIERRY ROGE)
08:12 12/05/2022

The public space belongs to everyone, but in practice is still strongly dominated by men. The City of Brussels is therefore looking for initiatives that focus on gender and urban planning.

It's set aside a budget of €80,000 and launched an open call for projects: proposals can vary from an intervention on a square to a series of workshops. 

The city council is looking for initiatives that can give the city and policy a boost towards a gender-sensitive approach to urban development.

The difference in the use of public spaces manifests itself at a young age: "To put it bluntly, boys are encouraged to play outside and girls stay inside with the dolls," says alderman for urban planning and public space Ans Persoons (One.brussels-Vooruit).

The design of the public space is mainly tailored to the needs of men, such as squares with a central sports field. "Girls and women move mainly in peripheral parts of such squares and therefore make rare use of the entire space. This unequal access and use of public space is maintained by not integrating the gender dimension into the planning and development of the city," persoons says.

The call for projects should change this. Proposals can range from concrete urban planning interventions, to workshops, lectures and exhibitions. "Thanks to this initiative, we want to work hand in hand with the people of Brussels so that the public space becomes equally pleasant for everyone. We want to make Brussels a pioneering city in terms of inclusion and equality," says Lydia Mutyebele, alderman for equal opportunities of the city of Brussels (PS).

You can submit a proposal until 27 June. At the beginning of September, the city council will validate the distribution of the subsidy money.

Written by Nick Amies