Gender relations and grass-roots urban movements

This article, based on the work of a network of seven teams from countries of the South and countries in transition, presents research findings on the themes of the environment, cities, and social relationships between men and women. The research is predicated on the view that a crosswise look at these three topics brings a useful new perspective to bear on each of these issues as such. It starts from the twofold observation that women and men are not involved in the same way in the urban environment, and that innovative approaches often emanate from women's movements concerned to change the environmental situation in cities as well as women's place and role in the decision-making process. However, research on urban issues, apart from recent research on employment and the labour market, has turned a blind eye to distinctions between men's and women's needs. The urban environment and gender relations bring into play several variables: the environment, the urban dimension, and gender. While the intermeshing of these approaches undoubtedly constitutes a large part of the originality of the work, it does not make the task any the less complex, for its impact is evident neither in methodological nor in conceptual terms. The personal motivation necessarily built into any research-action presupposes that the analysis is founded on specific experiences and not upon strictly theoretical principles, though the need for conceptual concordance between the different research teams should not be overlooked. We shall here focus on the governance of which women may be the agents or actors in cities, a focus that brings into play the different approaches to empowerment and gender relations in the context of social change, the analysis of grass-roots organisations and of men's and women's identities and roles, and the changing balance of power between men and women, whether in the domestic or the public arena.


Publication year:
2003
In:
In: International social science journal. - Oxford. - Vol. 55 (2003), Issue 177, p. 473-488
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