Pipping Tokyo and Paris to the top spot of the poll of 19 ‘megacities’, London has found itself crown the most ‘female-friendly city in the world’. Which is nice, isn’t it.
Speaking on the matter, Mayor Sadiq Khan said, “There is no other city in the world where I would want to raise my daughters,” which is perhaps no surprise when you learn that women lead both the police force and the fire brigade, as well as politics. It’s a city where women are visible in roles that would, in the past, have been heavily dominated by men.
Praising the city’s achievements so far, Sadiq is also quoted as saying, “As a proud feminist, I’m committed to doing everything I can to remove these barriers to women… I want London to not only be the best city in the world to be a woman, I want it to be a trailblazer in fighting (for) gender equality in all its shapes and forms.”
A sentiment we can all share, especially when the gender pay gap (amongst others) is still very much in effect, and there are still too few women role models at the highest levels of public life. And even those that are visible are still being paid considerably less than their male counterparts – I’m looking at you, BBC!
The poll itself was conducted in the 19 largest cities from countries around the world which house more than 10 million people, and focused on topics such as sexual violence, harmful cultural practices and access to healthcare and jobs.
The Winning Factors
Although London topped the list overall, there were some shocking places that it is seen to be failing. For instance, Tokyo was rated as the safest city in the world for women to live without the risk of sexual violence (including rape, sexual attacks and harassment). In this category, however, London came 5th.
Yet this hasn’t been without its detractors. Many critics and women’s rights campaigners have stated that sexual violence is merely hidden in Tokyo – a city where women only carriages had to be installed to curtail groping.
“Sexual violence is not visible in Japan. People don’t talk about [it],” said Kanoko Kamata, activist and founder of women’s empowerment group Chabudai Gaeshi Joshi.
Health & Resources
Rather proudly, Britain’s NHS lead London to the top spot regarding access to healthcare for women in the city. On top of this, we also came top for access to ‘economic resources’ including access to education, property and financial services.
However, this wasn’t without its critics either. The leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Sophie Walker, was shocked to hear that London had topped these categories, stating that, “Frankly it’s a scandal that in one of the richest cities in the world, we see women doing so badly.” However, Ms Walker did provide the caveat, “…that London has come top of this poll speaks volumes about the scale of the task there is still to do to make women equal all around the world.”
With massive issues such as extortionate costs of childcare in the city and 60,000 domestic violence incidents reported to the police last year (let alone those that went unreported), you can certainly see her point.
Plus there’s something we haven’t yet factored into the mix: Brexit. Speaking on the looming break from the EU, Sam Smethers, head of Britain’s women’s rights charity Fawcett Society, said that Brexit will only worsen women’s positions in the city:
“When there’s a shrinking economy, it’s women who are disproportionately affected … London is going to suffer badly and that will have a major impact on women.”
So whilst we can certainly celebrate this good news that London is outperforming most of the world in terms of female rights, we can’t let it get to our heads. We can’t get complacent. We’re in this position precisely because of the amazing work done by the Fawcett Society and the Women’s Equality Party. Now, more than ever, with a horizon finally in view, we should be pushing for equality where it matters.