After crossing the big sea, we are officially at our first stop in the « New World ». And what a better place than the city of New Haven? A city renowned for its deep roots in American history and marked by several, current social issues.
We were lucky enough to stay in the Edgewood neighborhood, which provides a full picture of New Haven as a « tale of two cities ». On the one hand, we were able to visit the beautiful historic campus of Yale (which makes the majority of Downtown New Haven) and, on the other hand, we were able to witness the harsh racial and social segregation of the city’s population. To contextualize the situation, according to the DataNewHaven website, 66% of all adults in New Haven (age 18 and over) reported not feeling safe while walking in their neighborhood at night (an improvement compared to the 76 % in 2012), a comparatively high percentage compared to other cities we have visited so far.
But we felt right at home when the Connecticut Women Consortium, our local partner for the walk, welcomed us! Colette, Kathleen and Olivia were everything one dreams Americans to be – generous, funny and so efficient! Everything was prepared for the walk when we met with them the day after our arrival (route, maps, communication, etc).
We decided to focus our walk in relation to the work they do, which includes care for female survivors of physical violence. We therefore added two new questions to our questionnaire, one related to the access of public services for women and the other related to the level of violence homeless women experience in public space.
The walk was a great success. A few different local NGOs, which work on the issue of gender, joined the walk. An â€œobservatoryâ€ group from Hong Kong even came along. We were able to experience the very different faces of the city – industrialization, emptiness, transportation hub, great city center, low-income communities, neighborhood! We also had an empty stroller to experience the accessibility aspect of the city. And all of that in only two hours!
The team from Connecticut Women Consortium really planned it well! To conclude the walk and do our debriefing, we all went out for pizza. Yes, New Haven is renowned for making the best pizza in America! And we can say that, â€œYes we agree on that point!â€ Stay tuned for our complete analysis coming up shortly!
What are your three major dates (or main three positive experiences) of your political career?
Iâ€™ve held three elected offices in my career. I served on the New Haven city council in the late 1980s, served for 21 years in the Connecticut state senate, and now serve as Mayor of New Haven. My first election to each office is a milestone Iâ€™ll always remember.
What is concretely gender and city planning in New Haven?
Steadily decreasing crime rates and steadily improving public schools reflect my priorities as mayor, and speak to my perspective as a woman and a mother. Every mother wants her children to be safe and to have ample opportunity to succeed. Public safety and public education are the policy areas through which we meet those objectives.
What the city of New Haven is planning to do to continue to improve its streets for women?
New Haven has expanded its use of ShotSpotter technology to help identify gun violence when it happens in an effort to reduce the number of gun-related incidents. Beyond that, New Haven has dramatically expanded its programs and activities for young people so they have safe, supervised, and structured things to do. The cityâ€™s police and fire departments, public school system, parks and recreation department, and youth services department are all involved in providing these productive alternatives for young people, as are city residents themselves, through ministers and their churches and non-profit community groups.
Why cities have a specific leverage when it comes to fighting against gender inequalities?
As the first woman to ever serve as Mayor of New Haven I have made it a point to have women serve in senior positions throughout my administration. These strong, capable women serve as role models and help inspire younger women in New Haven to work hard to overcome gender-based bias and disparate opportunities.
Do you think international cooperation with cities can be important regarding that matter?
Yes. Best practices from other cities that have been identified and proven effective can be shared, copied, and mirrored to the benefit of residents in any other city.