Cities through a “Gender Lens”: A Golden “Urban Age” for Women In the Global South?


Chant, Sylvia. 2013. “Cities through a ‘Gender Lens’: A Golden ‘Urban Age’ for Women in the Global South?” Environment and Urbanization 25 (1): 9–29.

Author: Sylvia Chant


Although urban women generally enjoy some advantages over their rural counterparts, a range of gender inequalities and injustices persist in urban areas that constrain their engagement in the labour market and in informal enterprises and inhibit the development of capabilities among younger women. These include unequal access to decent work, human capital acquisition, financial and physical assets, intra-urban mobility, personal safety and security, and representation in formal structures of urban governance. But the nature of these varies for different groups of women, not only on account of poverty status and where they live in the city, but also according to age, household characteristics, degree of engagement in income-generating activities and so on. This paper reviews what we have learnt from the literature on gender and urban development. It discusses disparities in access to education and vocational training and to land and housing ownership through a “gender lens”. It considers service deficiencies and associated time burdens, which limit income generation among women. Violence and gender, and gender divisions in access to different spaces within the city and in engagement in urban politics, are also covered. These factors cast doubt on whether women’s contributions to the prosperity often associated with urbanization are matched by commensurate returns and benefits.

Keywords: cities, gender, inequality, poverty, property, slums, space

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Analysis, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Livelihoods

Year: 2013

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