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Jarvis, Kantor, and Cloke. 2009. Cities and Gender, Routledge, London.

Trends in Urban Restructuring, Gender and Feminist Theory


Jarvis, Kantor, and Cloke in their book, “Cities and Gender”, explore gaps in the urban structure and socio-economic policies that makes a city inaccessible to the certain sections of the population especially focusing on women. Be it the non-recognition of the care sector in the economy, or the absence of transport options for trip-chaining; these gaps in planning exhibit an absence of understanding amongst the planners and designers.

From WID to WAD, and from WAD to GAD

Do you know how much a nanny costs?

For part-time nannies, hourly rates start around $12 per hour and can run as high as $20-25 per hour in affluent areas. Meanwhile, how much did child care cost until 1970? It was free of charge. Household labor was considered unpaid work. The value of the women’s work was calculated while the notion changed from Women in Development (WID) to Women And Development (WAD). The economic crisis of 1970 cast the spotlight on women’s role in development (Jarvis, 2009). The economic crisis cut the public expenditure of the government, and this brought reduced health and education provision for the public. People might turn eyes to the unpaid labor of women to fill the gaps. So a new working class – of working women – was created and transformed the households and urban policy. However, the new working class, working women, have encountered wage differences and systemic barriers in a workplace.

Films and TV reflects the WAD and Gender and Development (GAD) phenomenon. Desperate Housewives, an American television series, shows the diverse range of women’s roles; Lynette Scavo, a career woman who chose to be a full-time mother; Bree Van De Kamp, who kept pursuing her career; Gabrielle Solis who was a famous model, but also turned to become a good mother and wife. By identifying the different meanings of equality, WAD highlights women’s differences and distinctiveness in terms of knowledge, experience, work, and responsibilities (Jarvis, 2009). The movement from WAD to GAD created? A self-defined label of feminism and encouraged? The notion of plural identity. GAD respects individual differences, which were neglected in the past by WID and WAD. GAD widened the range of self-defined gender meanings, and this affects the formation of the built environment and workplace dynamics.

Gaps in Urban Infrastructure

While, the attitudes towards care-giving is highly gendered, similar trends have been seen in city infrastructure design as well. This is probably because the typical city-designer/ decision maker often belongs to a middle-class white community and has certain preconceptions about the world that do not reflect other perspectives. But, resource-entitlements and life-chances are not culture specific. Women from ethnically diverse communities and different social values should have access to choices. This aspect is visible in Yasmin’s case, who, as a young Muslim woman living in London who wore the hijab, could access the bike trail until was given an opportunity to learn to ride a Dutch-bicycle and therefore access the cycle paths.

These issues are further exacerbated by the utopian and often myopic visions of the planners, who neglect the living city and assume that transformation will follow. It is clear any inclusive city would be designed around the idea of “social justice and an ethic of care.”