Vienna points the way to "gender mainstreaming" signs
Vienna (dpa) - In a campaign promoting Vienna's efforts at "gender mainstreaming", women are to feature on emergency exit pictograms, trams will have signs showing baby-carrying men, and female silhouettes will grace signposts for construction sites.
The signposts and pictograms around the Austrian capital are to be adapted in the coming months according to changing social realities, the city administration announced Thursday.
Sonja Wehsely, a city councillor in charge of women's affairs, said the ambitious project's aim was to create equal opportunities and to increase awareness of the radically different realities men and women live in.
Pictograms provided much information on gender roles, but could also be changed easily, Wehsely said. "The campaign counters established viewing patterns so it encourages thinking, viewing and acting differently."
So - the city administration will change every second sign at nappy changing rooms with new ones showing men doing the dirty work.
On green-and-white emergency exit signs, the running male figure will be replaced by a fleeing figure with long hair, skirt and high- heeled boots.
On the city's trams, seats will be seen to be reserved not only for elderly or blind men, but women, too.
In order to remain politically correct, only half the signs will be replaced.
While these changes are intended to be permanent, an ad campaign goes one step further.
Women working on construction sites and ladies' bikes instead of men's on bike paths will feature on signposts.
Vienna has introduced gender mainstreaming as a fixed part of its policies in 2005.
The goal is to take into account the different realities and needs of men and women in all fields of planning and decision and to give both sexes equal space in the public sphere.
"For me, gender mainstreaming is a kind of elk test," said project coordinator Ursula Bauer.
"It is an additional quality check, and a decision aid to make sure that the different effects of planned measures and advantages and disadvantages for different groups are being considered." // © 2006 DPA