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Cities and bodies: gender, race and climate changes

Movimento Nossa BH holds a meeting to discuss and propose solutions for the city, taking into consideration the multiple oppressions



The Nossa BH Movement, in partnership with the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), the Fórum das Juventudes da Grande BH, the Association of Urban Cyclists of Belo Horizonte - BH em Ciclo, and the Coalition for the Climate and Active Mobility held, on April 12 and 13, the event "Cities and bodies: gender, race and climate sensitive mobility" .



Whether due to distant housing, the lack of access to spaces or the fear of being on and traveling by the streets, some bodies are more impacted by inequality than others. With the objective of placing into perspective the issues of urban mobility, climate change, gender and race, the event "Cities and bodies" promoted, over two days, dialogues, debates, workshops and poetry about how cities are lived in and perceived in different ways by people, especially by those traditionally marginalized in the urban areas.


Motivated by the daily observation and by research into how the problems of urban mobility in the large Brazilian cities affect even more negatively the female and black population, the event made connections between the different causes and consequences of this process of marginalization.

On Friday, April 12, to mark the opening of the event, the audit of public security and mobility for women was performed, which was an exclusive activity for women. It had the objective to discuss the experiences of women in the city from the perception of each one of the participants after a short walk through the neighborhood, under the coordination of UN-Habitat.


Photos: Denise Santos


The observation of the public space, in the audit, served to trace a 'Mapping of Insecurity' of the women, of points of sensitivity in the neighborhood. The activity included women who lived in the neighborhood, from other regions of Belo Horizonte, and also with the guests from other states of Brazil. The audit served as the basis for a report of priority actions to improve the problems encountered by the participants that will be delivered by Nossa BH to the city hall.


On the afternoon of April 12, the event began the debate on the consequences of climate change in urban areas, with the holding of a workshop about climate change and active mobility, under the coordination of Nossa BH and the Coalition for the Climate and Active Mobility. The objective was to place on the agenda the international scenario with respect to the subject and to approximate this discussion to actions at a municipal level.


The workshop was opened by Marcelo Amaral, of Nossa BH, who presented a history of Nossa BH, the main projects (Social Observatory of the Urban Mobility and MobCidades), and also some actions that the Movement had performed in both.


Next, Aline Cavalcanti, from the Coalition, introduced a general context of the climate discussion that connects with urban mobility and also gender issues. She provided a historical overview of how the Brazilian government has positioned itself in the international discussions about climate in recent years and how this has changed with the current President.


Photo: Denise Santos

The Workshop followed with the dynamic of "bar talk" or World Café, with five groups and each one with a sub-theme, as follows:


1. João Lacerda, from the Coalition: urban mobility and climate change;

2. Luana Coast, from Nossa BH: mobility sensitive to race and gender;

3. André Veloso, from Nossa BH: urban mobility and climate change in BH;

4. Letícia Birchal, from Nossa BH: gender and climate change;

5. Amanda Corradi, from BH em Ciclo: active mobility in BH.


In all, there were three work rounds in a group, in the World Café model. In each round, the coordinators of the subgroup gave a mini-lecture, of up to five minutes, about the subject, leading to a debate focused on the question of the round (listed below). In the first round, each group was asked "With whom do you talk?" about the sub-theme. In the second round, "How do you talk?" about this sub-theme. Finally, each group discussed "How to communicate and engage?" about the theme of the group.


At the end of three rounds, five presentations were given, one per group, with a summary of the debates that took place in their group in the three rounds in relation to the sub-theme, highlighting the contributions and issues that remained to be studied more deeply.


Inspired by the Friday afternoon discussions, Saturday morning was potent, surprising those present. Cities and bodies introduced possible dialogues between mobility, gender, race and climate change, with the presence of Daphne Besen (UN-Habitat), Aline Cavalcanti (Coalition for the Climate and Active Mobility), Bianca Macêdo (Municipal Secretary of Conservation and Public Services – City Hall of Fortaleza), Rafaela Albergaria (CESeC Researcher) and Andreia de Jesus (State Deputy of PSOL-MG), mediated by Letícia Birchal (Nossa BH) and stimulated by Luana Costa (Nossa BH).


Photo: Denise Santos

Rafaela Albergaria debated the importance of understanding how the symbolic expression of the numerous cases of violence against women, especially black women, have material expressions in the everyday life of each one of them. Rafaela warned about how these violent constructions determine the experiences of women, and how machismo and racism and material violence indicate and shape the privileges and disadvantages. She also indicated how the possibility to access public facilities defines the possibilities of living and surviving, and how the specific, racialized and territorialized urban mobility is not a neutral element in the urban policy.


Bianca Macedo, from the City Hall of Fortaleza, presented the Program to Combat Sexual Harassment on Public Transport, guided by the maxim that violence against women is a tragedy worldwide and also in Fortaleza. She presented the new legal panorama about harassment, established by Law 13718, of 2018, which determines that sexual harassment is a crime and is understood as the act of "practicing against somebody, and without their consent, a libidinous act with the objective of satisfying the own person’s lust or of another.' For Bianca, the Law was a historic and important landmark that it is the punishment of harassment also committed in public places, by any person, and also with the possibility of the complaint being made by a third party. Fortaleza was the first capital in Brazil to create a program confronting harassment in public transport and included a button, the Nina, in the public transport app of the City Hall to facilitate registering the complaints.


Photo: Denise Santos

Aline Cavalcanti, from the Coalition for the Climate and Active Mobility, presented data from the research of the Alziras Institute about the participation of women in the City Halls of Brazil. The study contributed to her thinking about the mechanisms that promote significant impacts on the elections of women to the City Halls, taking into account the different realities identified throughout Brazil, according to the socio-demographic, racial and ethnic, education, and political party context, among others. Aline also indicated the difficulty of discussing climate and mobility with men, especially white and heterosexual men, because of their sexist and macho positions to dialogue. Another important point made by Aline was that the capability to adapt to climate change is different, in accordance with the socio-economic contexts of the territory. As a rule, the main victims of the consequences of the climate change are poor women and, paradoxically, these women are the ones who emit less greenhouse gases in their personal and professional activities, and that this leads to a discussion about climate justice.


Photos: Denise Santos

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iCS - Institute for Climate and Society 2020 | All rights reserved

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