Introduction to Feminist Urban Studies

5. Feminist urban studies from the 1970s: research agendas in the global north and the global south

Feminist Research on Gender in the Urban Global South

Research Foci 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s+
Women and urbanization processes, especially rural to urban migration. X X X X
Women and work: formal and informal sectors; women as active in production and reproduction (in the 1970s with a focus on basic needs policy and in the 1980s with a focus on the implications of the New International Division of Labour); feminist critiques of women’s work in prostitution. X X X X
Land, housing and human settlements X X X
Urban poverty; women’s triple role in production, reproduction and community management
Household structures; household survival strategies; distribution of resources within the household X X X
Urban politics, especially squatter movements; urban service provision such as water, childcare, and transportation X X X
Domestic spaces; the home X X X
Urban crisis survival strategies; impact of structural adjustment programmes; urban citizenship X X
Urban violence, domestic and economic X X
Specific groups of workers, especially transnational migrant workers and sex workers; X X
Urban environments: degradation of urban environments; women farmers in urban areas; urban feminist ecology X X
Urban planning and women X X
Gendered nature of urban space X X
Urban health; women’s reproductive health; AIDS/ HIV X X
Urban children and youth X X
MDGs and women in urban places X
Sexualities and queered urban spaces X
Women in transnational urban families X
Women, fear and surveillance in urban places X
Women and the SDGs (esp. SDG5 and SDG11) X


 Feminist Research on Gender in the Urban Global North

Research Foci 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s+
Gender and urbanization; urban form: city centre versus suburbs; processes of production (paid work) versus reproduction (unpaid work); urban restructuring X X X X
Labour markets and work-home links, including childcare; transportation and access to facilities; (as well as from the late 1990s studies of parenting, childhood and children, care giving and the ethics of care) X X X X
Urban planning, design and architecture X X X X
Women and urban politics; urban social movements; women’s political participation (with the introduction in the late 1990s of urban citizenship) X X X X
Domestic spaces; the home X X X
Urban based identities of gender, race, ethnicity and sexuality; urban geographies of patriarchies; social constructions of difference, especially in relation to femininities and masculinities (with the introduction in the late 1990s of issues of racism, whiteness, and transnationalism X X X
Women’s fear and urban places (with the introduction in the 2000s of issues of surveillance) X X X
Urban poverty X X X
Housing: homelessness and gentrification X X X
Immigrant women, First Nations, Aboriginal women in cities; a focus on specific groups of workers such as domestic workers and sex workers X X
Lesbian and gay urban geographies; LGBTTQ spaces; queer geographies, and later, transgendered geographies X X
Embodied urban geographies X X
Urban public space (though earlier studies on, for example, women’s access to parks and women only buildings date back to the late 1970s) X X
Women’s spaces of pleasure /leisure, the female flaneur X X
Urban emotional geographies X
Women and the SDGs (esp. SDG5 and SDG11) X



Boserup, E. 1970. Women’s Role in Economic Development. Earthscan Publications.

Peake, L. and Pratt, G. 2017. Women in Cities. In. A. Bain and L. Peake eds. Globalization in a Global Context. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.