Introducing ‘Urban Pioneers,’ our new series that spotlights distinctive and innovative municipal roles within the Eurocities network. For our inaugural feature, we turn to the City of Vienna’s Municipal Department for Women’s Issues and Services, which since 1991 has been a foundation of support for women and girls, offering services like an emergency hotline and specialist counselling, as well as funding initiatives for NGOs.
In this interview, we speak with Ricarda Goetz-Preisner, Officer for Basic Research in Women´s Issues, who fulfils a vital role in basic research and international relations, focusing on the nuances of gender equality.
The journey towards gender equality is ongoing, with many areas of society still to see change. The department recognises this challenge and aims to address it through evidence-driven strategies, informative initiatives, and targeted campaigns to raise awareness on issues like violence against women and the empowerment of girls. This interview offers a glimpse into the continuous and nuanced efforts Vienna is making towards a balanced and inclusive society.
What are you trying to achieve in your position?
I want to use my skill set to help girls and women.
I can do so through coordinating studies or the FemCities network, which is a European network I coordinate sharing best practices with regard to gender equality, informing international delegations or using my voice to speak up when the gender perspective is neglected in different areas.
My long-term goal is not to have to enforce the gender perspective anymore because every project, agenda or task would have an inclusive approach to reach all members of society and fulfil their needs.
My short-term goal is to raise constant awareness that girls and women need specific support in all areas, especially against gender-based violence, ensuring equal pay and education opportunities and combatting all forms of sexism.
I want to use my skill set to help girls and women.
What’s your personal motivation to do this job?
During my studies in political science, I focused on international relations, East Asia and public communication, so feminism and equality issues were not my forte. However, I wanted to learn from my own position of privilege as an able-bodied white woman born in Vienna and give back to other girls and women who might not have the same privileges. The Vienna gender equality monitor, a quantitative project focusing on gender-sensitive data, was the first step into my new position.
I enjoy using humour and provocative ideas to make people think how (in)equality might affect their private and work lives. Over the years, many rewarding things happened to me in this role, such as a young woman approaching me after a workshop, telling me she sees things in her life differently now and asking how she could help others.
Walk us through a day in your shoes.
I work opposite the Vienna town hall, so my day starts by seeing this phenomenal building reminding me that I work for the people of Vienna.
I enjoy using humour and provocative ideas to make people think how (in)equality might affect their private and work lives.
After checking my email, I often have a local or international meeting or delegation planned. If not, I focus on either the projects I am currently responsible for or do a content analysis of the proposals NGOs submit for funding.
I can follow long-term projects such as the FemCities network and short-term big campaigns such as the 16 Days Against Violence Against Women.
What are your main challenges? Is your position a solitary one or a collaborative one?
We are a team of five extremely active women. Most of us have specific target groups and areas of expertise. For example, mine are everything international, girls, senior women, history, health, and my special expertise is gaming.
My position involves talking to many different people inside and outside of the City of Vienna, which makes it vibrant and varied.
Sometimes we collaborate with other departments or partners, which is always interesting.
When was the last time you felt that your position had a positive impact on your city’s inhabitants?
We often receive direct feedback after events or workshops, and in my role interacting with international delegations. People appreciate my enthusiasm and the work we do.
I feel that our work makes an impact every day because all our endeavours strive to support girls and women in Vienna to lead a better, safer and happier life.
An equal place is a better place for everyone living there.
If you had a magic wand, what could significantly improve the way you do your job?
If I had a magic wand, I could use it to transport myself faster from A to B, city to city and country to country to save travel time and personal and financial costs.
I would also prolong some hours and rush others to be more efficient.
Pitch your job to other local, regional, national or European governments.
Every governmental body aiming to make people’s lives better should employ enthusiastic people working towards gender equality.
An equal place is a better place for everyone living there. Having experts working in different areas of our societies to reach vulnerable people and make everyone’s lives just a little bit better should not need a pitch; it should be anchored in everyone’s logic.
This interview is part of ‘Urban Pioneers,’ a Eurocities series published every first and fourth Monday of the month spotlighting innovative and original job positions in municipalities across Europe. Each article in this series highlights a job position aimed at improving wellbeing, health conditions, society and the environment in cities. From tackling the urban heat island effect to countering gender imbalances to encouraging sustainable mobility, ‘Urban Pioneers’ showcases how cities are leading by example and breaking new ground in enhancing people’s quality of life. ‘Urban Pioneers’ jobs can inspire national, regional and EU authorities to create similar positions in their own structures, multiplying across Europe’s regions and nations the positive impact that started in cities.