Women Friendly City Project

Date 2014-06-11 Category Updater scaadmin
Last Update


Beyond gender mainstreaming, Women-Friendly City Project (WFCP) aims to reflect women’s voice in every policy decision made by the city government, so that no policy will favor one gender. It is also enhancing women’s happiness by implementing women-friendly policies that address three issues of urban environment inconvenience, safety, and unpleasantness and enhancing the living standard of women by empowering them.


Launch of the Project (2007)

The “Women Friendly City Project,” in Jan 2007, began as an initiative to minimize the inconveniences women faced in their daily lives and to make the city a place where women could be happy and comfortable. Since then, a task force team was established, experts had a series of meetings thereon, a public survey was conducted, and reports on these tasks and policy forums were held before approval as an official city project in July 2007. In Oct 2007, the Partners Group, composed of the relevant experts, was formed, and the foundation of citizen governance was established through a series of internal meetings and advisory councils.

Full-fledged project (year 2008).

In 2008, we formed the Prosumer Group made up of ordinary citizens and the Forum Group composed of experts in order to strengthen citizen governance. Through such activities, we encouraged women to visit the field, identify needs and give advice and feedback on implementing the project. We also were provided with three opportunities to attend international conferences, where participants shared their views and held discussions on women friendly city project cases with the representatives of other cities around the world.

Visible results of women friendly city project (year 2009).

In 2009, we streamlined the existing 90 programs. As a result, we identified 30 programs that needed to be added to the project, removed 30 programs, which were already completed or did not require further management, and selected 9 core programs that were highly requested by citizens, on which to concentrate our efforts. We also developed guidelines for women-friendly restrooms, parking space lots, walking environments, parks, and apartment complexes and granted certification to qualified facilities (258 facilities).

We developed the Matrix tool to identify the needs of a wide range of women living in Seoul. Using this tool, we selected 15 groups that might not be covered by the existing policy and identified their needs. Through these efforts we have continued to expand the project to enhance the quality of life of women.


Women Friendly City Project (WFCP), which covers not only caring and job creation (the two major areas of the existing policy on women) but also safety, convenience, and cultural abundance, consists of 90 projects in five major areas. Through successful execution of the project, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is enhancing the happiness of our citizens by building a women-friendly urban environment, expanding women’s participation in social and economic activities, and providing more opportunities for women to contribute to society.

Background & Goal

Aimed to make the city a women-friendly city environment where they can feel happy.

The 'Women Friendly City Project' reflects the integration of wide ranging efforts that incorporate the perspectives of women and their experiences into a broad range of city planning policies. The aim here is to minimize the inconvenience and insecurity women face in their daily lives as well as enhance there social participation of women. It is a project to make the city a place, where women are happy by providing them with a women friendly city environment.

Some improvements in the legal framework, but still a long way to go before “substantial” equality for women is realized.

Women-centered policy-making in Korea has been led by the relevant Ministry of the central government usually with its focus on protecting women, preventing gender discrimination, and enhancing women’s status in society. Thanks to such efforts to develop the country’s female resources and enhance the welfare and rights of women, there has been considerable improvement in the formal  equality of women, including legal and institutional frameworks. However, when it comes to the 'substantial' equality of women, there still remains much room for improvement, particularly in the labor, family and welfare areas. Since those eligible for the benefits, under the previous policies, were limited to some underprivileged, most women did not directly benefit from the policies. On top of that, the basic framework of the policies failed to reflect the various needs of each provincial government and the unique aspects of women living in metropolitan areas and ,thus, had a significant impact on women’s daily lives.

77 percent of the inconveniences women experience are found in their daily lives – public restrooms, public transportation, parking, childcare facilities, walking on pedestrian walkways, etc.

An Internet survey conducted among Seoul citizens in 2007 showed that 77.4 % of women experienced inconveniences in their daily lives. The spaces women felt inconvenient more than men included public restrooms, public transportation, parking lots, childcare facilities, and pedestrian walkways. According to the survey, about 67.3 % of women felt insecure or frustrated in city life, demonstrating that many women still experience inconveniences and insecurities in their daily lives, despite some improvement in the legal and institutional framework.



The “Women Friendly City Project” employs a wide range of strategies with the great vision of creating a women-friendly city environment. It specifically aims to minimize the inconveniences and insecurities women face in their daily lives by incorporating a their perspective and experiences into a broad range of policy making.

1. Create a women friendly city environment – improve restrooms, transportations, and street facilities amongst others.

First, the project differentiates itself by focusing on substantial benefits for women. Instead of dealing with a symbolic policy, the project focuses on developing policies that will bring real benefits to women and make their living environment more convenient. As the first and the most important step, we focused our efforts on identifying the inconveniences women have to bear in the city environment and modifying them into more wome - friendly alternatives. We thoroughly assessed the needs of women based on expert advice (8 times), public surveys, and more., and made all-out efforts to improve facilities including roads, transportation and restrooms based on these assessments. In June 2007, the application areas of the policy were expanded to include five areas closely related to the daily lives of women: care, work, prosperity, convenience, and safety.

2. Every department of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, and institutions which make investments or contributions to the project and autonomous districts are all involved

The methods of selecting participating businesses and carrying out projects were unique primarily because the “Women Friendly City Project” needed to cover the entirety of the city. We had 135 departments of the city government, 13 organizations that invested and contributed to the project and 25 autonomous districts all involved in the project. In July, 2007, the four year plan of the Women Friendly City Project 2010, which covered 90 core programs, was established.

3. Citizen governance for effective incorporation of women’s perspectives and experience.

In order to effectively incorporate women’s perspectives and experiences, we built an institutional framework that involved a range of expert and civic groups (Partners Group, Prosumer Group, WISE, Forum Group, Supporters Group, etc.; 4,467 people in total). This enabled citizens, particularly women, to proactively participate in the process of planning and executing policies, and we diversified the methods of participation to encourage citizens’ participation - regular meetings (held 4 times a year), small expert group meetings, online advice/feedback system, on-site participation/monitoring, etc.

4. Develop guidelines for facilities to build and strengthen social consensus.

With the aim to build and strengthen social consensus regarding the Women Friendly City Project, we developed guidelines for project facilities (restrooms, parking lots, roads, and parks) that could be used when designing or constructing similar facilities in the private sector. The project was then promoted in the private sector by granting certification to qualified facilities.


Lack of understanding about the project

As mentioned earlier, the Women Friendly City Project involves every department and organization of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, although the Women and Family Policy Affairs Office is responsible for its comprehensive management. However, we faced difficulties occasionally due to a department’s lack of understanding and interest in the project. Some of the departments or organizations felt the project was a burden; therefore it was difficult to incorporate women’s perspectives and experiences into entire policies of the city government.

Solution 1 – designation of CF managers 

In order to overcome these difficulties, we designated a CF for each department and a CF manager for each bureau (281 for Seoul City, 896 for autonomous districts) as part of the effort to raise awareness of the project. Additionally, we held workshops for citizens to develop new programs and complement the existing ones.

Solution 2 – closer cooperation between departments.

In Feb 2009, the Women Friendly City Project task force team was formed and operated for nine months. The task force team was attended by the heads of bureaus carrying out core programs of the project with the Vice MayorⅠ for Administrative Affairs who was appointed as team leader. Its primary function was reviewing the status of the core programs on a regular basis, reinforcing cooperation among departments and ensuring effective budget support. 

Solution 3 – facilitate participation of every department by providing model cases.

Nine contests were held for the Women Friendly City Project and participated in by every department from 2007 through 2009. Each department presented its idea for a program, and 40 model cases were selected for awards to promote model cases throughout all departments.

Solution 4 – raise awareness about the project and build a social consensus through intensive promotion.

With the aim to attract citizens’ attention and build a consensus on the Women Friendly City Project,we presented catchphrases like “If women are happy, everyone is happy” and “Move women to tears.”


Human resources – a wide range of citizens, including expert groups and NGOs were involved.

 For full-fledged operation of the project, the Women-friendly City Team(composedof6members), in charge of the comprehensive management of the project, was formed within the Women & Family Policy Affairs Office in Aug 2008. Since the project was carried out by each department of the city government, an additional work force was not required, but 4,405 citizens were involved to ensure women’s perspectives and experiences were reflected in the policies. 

Financial resources – make the best of each department’s budget.

We made the best of each department’s budget and assigned an additional budget in 2009 to ensure the core programs, including plans to improve restrooms, parks and pedestrian walkways, were effectively delivered.

Programs reflecting the characteristics of each district – incentives for excellent outcomes.

Seoul city is operating 90 programs in five areas, while 25 autonomous districts are carrying out 1,450 programs, which reflect the characteristics of each district. We assess these district-specific programs every year and provide budgetary incentives to districts selected based on their program outcome.


Every department of the Seoul Metropolitan Government endeavors to incorporate women’s perspectives into the policies they are dealing with.

Seoul City launched the Women Friendly City Project in 2007 with the intention to promote the substantial happiness of women. This includes 90 sub-projects providing women with consideration, work, prosperity, convenience and safety. With the areas covered by the women’s policy expanded to include roads, transportation, culture, housing, and more. We encouraged every department of city government to reflect the perspectives of women in their policy making. We also focused our efforts on the nine initiatives, selected out of the 90 sub-projects, which drew the most positive responses from the citizens based on the 2007 Internet survey results. Thus, considerable improvements in city facilities and services were achieved.

We increased the number of restrooms to 87 in 2007, 378 in 2008 and 1,049 in 2009 through the “Women-Friendly restroom” project. We also installed Woman-friendly Parking Lots near entrances and elevators of buildings and increased their number to 68 in 2007, 4,622 in 2008 and 23,324 in 2009. In order to improve the conditions for the safety of women, we installed 594 emergency bells and 1,264 CCTVs, and installed an additional 2,524 lights to enhance the brightness of parking lots.

For women’s safe returns home at night, a Seoul call taxi system was put into operation and a Safe-Return-Home service that sends passenger information to the individuals’ parents or guardian from the start of their ride home, 6,580 taxi drivers in 2008 and 22,099 in 2009 were registered with the Seoul call taxi system and about 106,679 people used the service from 2008 to 2009. Coupled with these efforts, we also provided assistance and support to help women, who had to quit their jobs due to pregnancy or childcare, find new jobs or start their own businesses. In 2007, 8,076 jobs were provided, 10,220 in 2008 and 32,715 in 2009. In 2009, we began providing high quality child care facilities through the establishment of the Seoul Child Care Center(including 1,999 certified childcare centers). In addition, women-friendly walkways (69.2km), parks (50 places), apartments (2 model complexes) were created to enhance the convenience and safety of women. Standard manuals (guidelines) for restrooms, parking lots, walkways, parks, and more., are available for use in designing and constructing similar facilities in the private sector, and certification or a “women-friendly facility mark” is awarded to excellent facilities (258) following a non-site inspection. Though these projects were initially launched in the public sector, they are gradually now expanding into the private sector in this manner.

Customer Satisfaction substantially increased to 83.2% in 2008 from 68.2% in 2007, as shown by the survey.

Thanks to such comprehensive efforts, citizens’ satisfaction in women-related areas considerably increased to 83.2 %t in 2008 from 68.2 % in 2007, as shown by the Citizens’ Evaluation of Administrative Services. In particular, a remarkable increase in satisfaction was witnessed in safety areas: 70.3 % in 2008 from 46% in 2007. 

International Recognition

2010 winner of the United Nations Public Service Award






Department / Contact

  • International Relations Division  /  82-2-2133-5376  /  international@seoul.go.kr
  • Megacity Research Center  /  82-2-2149-1418  /  simrc@si.re.kr