Yesterday I posted about Wonder Woman’s campaign for DC Mayor, and asked you all for feminist urban policy suggestions. There are some good ones in the comments, but I thought I’d get the ball rolling a little more by throwing out some of my own ideas. Add yours in the comments.
1. Comprehensive eviction prevention programs. This article is admittedly New York-centric, but I’d imagine there are similar patterns in DC. And as young, relatively wealthier people continue to move into cities, landlords have strong incentives to push out long-term lower-income tenants. Often, women are the heads of the low-income households that suffer most from gentrification. Establishing safeguards so that low-income tenants can maintain their residences is a crucial aspect of any progressive urban policy.
2. Health care. Well-funded, inclusive and sensitive community health centers that provide an array of services to patients regardless of immigration status or ability to pay are sorely needed in many urban areas. Centers that provide reproductive health care — including but certainly not limited to contraception, abortion, well-baby care, STI prevention and treatment, sexual health education and neo-natal care — are the obvious feminist focus, especially when they’re sensitive to the needs of all patients and can comprehensively serve immigrant and LGBT populations.
3. Violence prevention. More specifically, violence prevention that focuses on community-based solutions rather than just increased policing. Organizations like Day One in New York reach out to youth to both prevent violence and to help victims of violence get the legal help they need. Groups that focus on working with men to prevent violence are scarce but incredibly important. The already stretched-thin shelter system always needs more resources to help women and men escape violence. And we need more creative solutions that don’t put all the onus on women to leave, and that give women options other than calling the police.
4. Employment and public assistance. Helping local businesses stay afloat in tough economic times also helps to keep more women employed. When that fails, a public assistance system that has less red tape and bureaucracy is crucial in helping families — many of which are headed by women — to put food on the table.
5. Food policy. We hear quite a bit about the “American obesity crisis” and the negative effects that processed and unhealthy foods have on us. While I’m of course skeptical of the “obesity crisis” fat-shaming language, it is true that the cheapest food is often the worst for us, and that low-income and urban populations have a particularly difficult time accessing affordable, healthy food. That lack of access does have serious health consequences. Like the suggestions above, much of the problem comes from federal government policy — here in the form of farm subsidies, among other policies. But city governments can help by promoting local food production and garden-sharing, and by building more public spaces (and green spaces in particular). They can create incentives for local markets to serve low-income communities. They can do what Scott Stringer has tried to do in the Bronx — create a food infrastructure requirement as part of local Environmental Impact Standards. Again, it’s women who are often in charge of feeding their families, and who bear the burden of stretching a tight budget to make sure that there’s food on the table. It’s also women who are the most likely to forgo healthy food for themselves so that they can give it to their children and their partners. Fresh, affordable food in urban “food deserts” would help women and families to be healthier.
What else would go on your feminist urban policy wish list?