India’s most popular city Mumbai became the first city in the nation to introduce women symbols in traffic lights, a small but significant move toward a more inclusive environment.
In a bid to make roads more pedestrian-friendly, the Tinsel Town will be reportedly wapping over a hundred traffic signals with male stick figures into females versions as a gender-inclusive measure.
“If you’ve passed by Dadar, you’d see something that will make you feel proud,” Thackeray tweeted on Saturday referring to a neighbourhood in central Mumbai where the gender-inclusive signals have been installed. “(The local administration is) ensuring gender equality with a simple idea — the signals now have women too!”
“The signage reflects the character of the city … that it believes in gender equality and promotes women’s empowerment. This is just the start,” Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s assistant commissioner told the Guardian.
Cities around India majorly feature the male stick figure as a standard, as India is one of those countries with a relatively small number of woman on streets. The move has been lauded by gender equality campaigners saying the move is small but significant.
“This is one small yet decisive step forward to ending the subconscious exclusion of the female narrative from how our cities are designed,” one Twitter user wrote.
Social scientist Shilpa Phadke told the Guardian: “if a generation of little girls grow up seeing women figures on the traffic signals, it sends a small but powerful signal that women belong in the public.”
Mumbai is one of India’s cities that has women reservations in public transportations like trains and buses have been made. The city is widely regarded as one of India’s safest cities for women. Cities like Kolkata and Delhi too have some facilities enabled in public for women.
While India is a city one of the least gender-inclusive, unfortunately, around the world, figures aren’t sky-high either, when it comes to harbouring both genders in public places. Urban planning, social infrastructure is not the most inclusive, to say the least.
“If the city is built for the ‘neutral’ male user, it neglects the needs, interests, and routines of women, girls, and sexual and gender minorities in the city,” Sameh Wahba, World Bank Global Director for Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience, and Land told in the launch World Urban Forum in February this year.
(Cover image courtesy of Aditya Thackeray)