Book News: September 9th, 2008

By Gemma Burgess

This report of a study by Cambridge University suggests many women are being factored out of planning schemes and local authorities are failing to consider women’s needs in their planning. The Gender Equality Duty, introduced in 2007, was designed to stop the problem, but it has clearly failed to do so.

The report argues that women are being left at a disadvantage because the layout of their local community takes no account of the different ways in which they use public space compared with men. But councils are struggling to factor in the different needs of men and women when they review their service provision or introduce new policies. Race equality is more apparent then gender equality.

The Cambridge research finds few local authorities have seriously begun to implement the necessary measures. Gender equality schemes are not yet in place and gender impact assessments have not been completed. Most local authorities had found it easier to consider gender equality within their own organisation, but that few were taking gender into account when drafting new policies and schemes.

The study did find some examples of good practice. In the London Borough of Lewisham council officers have introduced new mechanisms to assess gender equality in their development and planning schemes. As a result, Lewisham has changed its approach to where new business developments are zoned in an effort to reduce long-distance commuting and to ensure that women have more jobs available close to where they live.

The report is available by emailing