Ioannina: Bridges of Participation

The gender gap in urban planning and the discrimination it causes is not only found in large urban centres, but also in smaller provincial towns, which are often neglected. With the ‘Ioannina: Bridges of Participation’ programme, we decided to focus on the city of Ioannina.

Over the last decade, a series of multiple urban interventions have significantly changed the shape of the city of Ioannina and mobility within it. However, these changes continue to serve specific social groups, the majority of whom are non-disabled private car users (mostly men). This lack of a gender perspective in urban planning excludes not only women and femininities, but also other vulnerable social groups such as people with disabilities, the elderly, or LGBTQI+ people.

The aim of the project “Ioannina: Bridges of Participation” is to raise awareness of the gender dimension of urban space among the city’s residents and the staff of the Municipality of Ioannina.

The project was planned to be carried out in 2 phases:

  1. A cycle of three experiential workshops with citizens (with an emphasis on the participation of women and LGBTQI+ persons) aiming at:
  • Raise citizens’ awareness of the gender perspective in urban planning.
  • To highlight people’s everyday experiences in the city and how these are also influenced by their gender (i.e. feelings of comfort and safety).
  • Capturing residents’ experiences, needs and desires for change through experiential mapping (exploratory walks in Ioannina using specific indicators to evaluate urban space).

The exploratory walk with the group helped me to understand that I share common experiences with other women and to better understand the changes I would like to see in my city. Participant of the workshops

We share many common experiences that we have rarely discussed in depth. Participant of the workshops

  1. A cycle of three workshops with the staff of the technical services of the Municipality of Ioannina in order to: (as there was no such possibility of cooperation from the local municipality, this phase was not implemented)
  • Familiarising the employees on gender issues and integration of gender perspective in the practices of the Municipality.
  • Informing the relevant departments of the Municipality on the results of the workshops with the citizens in order to further highlight and implement the corresponding interventions. 
  • Exploring the possibilities of integrating a gender perspective in the work carried out by the employees of the technical departments of the Municipality.
  • Presenting equivalent actions by foreign institutions, discussing and exchanging experiences in a European context (online participation of speakers from abroad with simultaneous translation into Greek).

Unfortunately, the second phase of the project was not implemented, as there was no opportunity for cooperation with the local authorities.

At the end of the activities, the publication “Feminist Mapping, The experience of the programme Ioannina – Bridges of Participation” (available online in Greek) was written, which brings together the results of the project and proposals for implementation by the local authorities. On Monday, 30 October 2023, the open event of the project took place in Ioannina, with the aim of exploring the possibilities of using the proposals of the participants by the municipality. On this occasion, the publication and the results of the programme were presented, the participants of the workshops shared their experiences and testimonies from the programme, and finally, the Accessibility Unit of the University of Ioannina reported on the accessibility difficulties faced by students with disabilities and the interventions implemented in the context of equal access to the university. 

The publication of the “Ioannina – Bridges of Inclusion” project is the beginning of a broader demand for cities that are friendly to all. Already, groups of active citizens (especially women) are being informed and aware of the need for inclusion in the urban context. The next step is political action by (local) authorities and the active participation of women and other vulnerable social groups in decision-making centres.

→ Read the publication “Feminist Mappings Ioannina Bridges Of Participation” here

Location: Ioannina (Greece)

Period: March 2023 – October 2023

Participants: residents of Ioannina city and employees of the Municipality of Ioannina

The program is implemented with the support of the Heinrich Böll Foundation – Thessaloniki Office, Greece.