Vienna Has Achieved the Status of a Gender Equal City

A Look Into the Gender Equal City of Vienna

In the 1970s, Vienna was home to many active women’s groups.

Welcome to Vienna: a gender equal city that’s rich in Baroque history and fine coffeehouses! As you explore the Austrian capital city, you’ll see that most, if not all aspects of infrastructural public life have been redesigned in an effort to be an inclusive and gender neutral city. Vienna has certainly set the path for other cities to emulate as more societies acknowledge the significance of equal representation. 

Also read: A Cultural Guide To Vienna: History, Music, and Food!

How did the importance of having gender equal public spaces in Vienna start?

In the 1990s, gender planning expert Eva Kail recognised the significance in using gender to redesign its public spaces. Historically, men had predominantly been in charge of urban planning and designing. What results, therefore, is a failure to design a city that caters to the needs of other populations. 

How were gender equal public spaces formed?

Known as “gender mainstreaming” of urban development, this method spearheaded the city’s efforts at achieving gender equality in Vienna based on structural equality for both men and women. 

1. Recognising the importance of safety in Vienna’s parks

vienna park

Image credit: June O

Firstly, new park designs were launched to address the safety concerns of teenage girls upon realising that their perspective was missing from the city’s parks. Thus, together with her team, Kail launched pilot projects featuring new designs from 1999 to 2000. These included ensuring that paths were well-lit, as straight as possible, and wide enough. When the safety concerns were successfully addressed, more teenage girls thankfully frequented these outdoor spaces.

2. Redesigning public spaces to increase the visibility of women

Secondly, in Reumannplatz, one of the most famous squares in Vienna, a large outdoor podium has been erected. Known as a Mädchenbühne, or a girls’ stage, this setup came at the request of local schoolgirls when they were asked what they hoped to see in the urban area. Since its debut, this performance space has been used by anyone and everyone.  

vienna janis joplin

Image credit: Google Street View

Also, some urban redevelopment includes intentionally making females more visible. For instance, take a look at the Janis-Joplin Promenade! Famous women are the inspiration for some street, square, and park names in gender equal Vienna.

3. Redesigning Vienna’s transportation system 

gender equal vienna

Image credit: Keira Burton

Thirdly, ensuring gender equality and representation of the male population is just as important as that of the female population. Luckily, Vienna’s transportation system has managed to achieve just that. Riding the railway system, one will see illustrations of men with children to demarcate seats that are reserved for parents. People tend to associate women as primary caregivers, which makes this symbolic representation of a gender equal Vienna certainly remarkable.

gender equal vienna

Image credit: Hindrik Sijens

Also, Vienna’s pavements are very wide, accommodating to parents that navigate the city with prams or their children. Another fun fact is that nearly all of Vienna is wheelchair accessible, including the city’s entire public transportation network! 

Also read: The Great Austria Adventure: 7 Best Experiences in Vienna for You & Your Family

4. Ensuring the representation of, and listening to, the needs of the LGBTQ community

pride in vienna

Image credit: Nick Shandra

Lastly, hearing the voices of the LGBTQ community is just as important when we look at gender equality. Luckily, the gender equal city of Vienna takes great strides in ensuring the visibility of the queer community. For instance, within the city administration, there’s a dedicated department that focuses on eradicating LGBTQ discrimination. 


If you’re a tourist, check out Vienna’s QueerCityPass! This is a tourist ticket for lesbian, gay, and trans visitors that guides one around the city’s queer-friendly institutions. A great range of queer-friendly cafes, bars, shops, and museums makes Vienna a safe city for the queer community.

Public redesigning

gender equal vienna

Image credit: Christoph K

Take a walk along the cafe-lined streets of Vienna and enjoy the classic architecture of this city. You might see the illumination of a same-sex couple illustrated on the city’s traffic lights. 

gender equal vienna

Image credit: BV Alsergrund/Votava

Also, Vienna recently unveiled its first transgender crosswalk, situated right by the Vienna General Hospital. This is the nation’s only transgender healthcare centre! The crosswalk has even received great support from all political parties, from liberal to conservative. 

From public parks to transportation systems, we can see how these symbolic changes of a gender equal Vienna have opened the conversation around gender diversity. After all, as the planning pioneer Eva Kail says, “When [gender mainstreamed urban design] is done well, it is invisible. [The city is now] a well-functioning public space, where no group is missing or struggling to use it, [and] doesn’t stand out.” Thus, public redesigning aplenty, Vienna is certainly one to emulate as more cities are beginning to recognise the importance of gender equality.

Featured image credit: Andrea Niosi | Unsplash 

About Author

Cassandra Nerva
Cassandra Nerva

Cassandra seeks comfort in warm blankets, period dramas, and all things hazelnut. If she's not getting carried away with a wartime novel or decorating her house with plants & fairy lights, she's uncovering hidden gems around her as she continues to embrace her keen sense of adventure.


Related Posts