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Invisibility of Women in Architecture


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Today, many would argue, and correctly so, that the situation for women within many professional industries, as well as the women who utilise spaces generated is indeed improving. Education has indeed expanded and diversified and become less sexist, less elitist to include feminist discourse as a legitimate field of study. However, it is intended to examine this perception of women, as anything more than abstract image, as although, in a quantitative sense, there are more women entering architecture, design and planning, this is not indicative of marked improvement in qualitative measures.

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Invisibility of Women in Architecture

  2. 2. ABSTRACT The role of gender within a professional framework in the built environment has long been debated, and the question still stands; what is the role of females in architecture, design and planning? Who gets what? Where? And How? This report seeks to study and reflect the gendered nature of the beliefs, policies and methods of implementation professionals have espoused in creating urban spaces. Today, many would argue, and correctly so, that the situation for women within many professional industries, as well as the women who utilise spaces generated is indeed improving. Education has indeed expanded and diversified and become less sexist, less elitist to include feminist discourse as a legitimate field of study. However, it is intended to examine this perception of women, as anything more than abstract image, as although, in a quantitative sense, there are more women entering architecture, design and planning, this is not indicative of marked improvement in qualitative measures. The following research endeavors to investigate, through thorough review of literature on women in architecture theory and urban development, as well as in-depth qualitative research methods whether or not we do in fact live in a male dominated urban landscaped remnant from historical outlooks embedded within a wider theoretical framework, which encompasses the themes of gender, design, and male dominated views vs. feminist perspectives.
  3. 3. CONTENT Chapter 1: Introduction 1.1. Problem Statement 1.2.Theoretical and conceptual context Chapter 2: Indian History and Women 2.1. Women in Ancient India 2.1.a. Introduction 2.1. b. Vedic Period 2.1. c. Post Vedic Period 2.1. d. Mauryan period 2.1. e. Mughal Period 2.1. f. Buddhist Period 2.1. g. Medieval Period 2.1. h. British Period 2.1. i. After Independence 2.2. Women And Culture 2.2. a. Introduction 2.2. b. Women in the Vedas 2.2. c. Women in Upanishads 2.2. d. Women in the Mahabharata 2.2. e. Women in Ramayana 2.2. f. Women in Manu Samhita 2.3.History of Feminism 2.4. Women in Modern India 2.5. Changing Scenario 2.5. a. Performance of Women 2.5. b. Role of Women Chapter 3: Role Chapter 4: Education andEmployment 4.1 Women in Architectural Education 4.2 Studying Architecture 4.3 Women in architectural Practices 4.4 Gender biases in recognizing good work through awards
  4. 4. 4.5 Women and Research 4.6 Women in policy making and planning 4.7 Women in architecture Chapter 5: Women in Architecture and Planning 5.1. Women in Urban Design 5.1.a. Urban design theory 5.1.b. Women‘s Place in a city 5.1.c. Interview Findings 5.2. Writing about Feminism and Architecture 5.3. Designing and Planning Diversity 5.4. How Masculine and feminine design affectour city 5.5. Talking to people Chapter 6: Feminism and Professionalism 6.1.Concept of Work 6.2. Feminist critiques and Professionalism Chapter 7: Why do women leave Architecture? 7.1. Introduction 7.2. Reasons 7.3. Conclusion Chapter 8: What could be done? 8.1. Understanding experiences of women 8.2. Balancing differences and equity 8.3. Reform of Feminist education Chapter 9: Conclusion
  5. 5. Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION 1.1. Problem Statement The purpose of this research is to analyze and discuss the place of women in professional roles within, architecture, design andurban planning. It is also hoped that the findings can be used to develop awareness for policy makers and practitioners to ensure that professional women are not disadvantaged in built environment careers. Further, the results can assist in ensuring that the policies and practices in architecture, planning and design are fully inclusive of both genders. Gender analysis is vital to the ability of the built environment to respond to the needs of all who utilise planned spaces. Understanding the role of gender can be helpful in the process of developing gender sensitive planning strategies. It is recognised that now, more than ever, in a time when cities are growing and developing at a tremendous pace, that the identification of gender equality, along with subsequent strategies, is imperative in accommodating change in the workplace and social demographics. The increase in the number of women in the workplace reinforces the urgency of this task. Women across the globe are raised to be very conscious of their femininity and gender, and how fragile they are or should be in a very male dominated world. While the environment in which one is raised or nurtured may be liberal and with no gender bias, one still finds certain limitations trickling in from outside the immediate inner circle of neutrality. Equality and equal opportunity seem like an illusion, a mirage in a desert that no longer exists! Many a time‘s women downplay their role even as they continue to multitask efficiently and this humble perception gives their partners, staff, family, friends or colleagues the false notion that they aren‘t contributing in a major way. Further to this, if clients, staff and others too begin to perceive that the woman partner is no longer a part of the main team, there is little she can do to restore their faith and confidence. The magic needs to be apparent within the team and about the team! In a much skewed hierarchy dominated by men and their unfortunate biases to their other-wise equal and sometimes far better partners, there seems to be a lacuna where women lead or are given the opportunity to lead! The topic of gender inequality within the technological world is nothing new or ground breaking, but one that runs so deep within social structures that it deserves far more attention than it receives. The majority of women, not only in the field of architecture but in other professions too are being pushed into the
  6. 6. shadows. Why women are alone stuck with childcare and forced to give up their professions when they could easily do both with the right support and encouragement? Why do women get relegated to the role of secretaries when they have the potential to be equal partners? Why are students and fresh graduates disappearing into the confines and isolation of architectural offices, with mere assistance-ship roles? Why do young professionals disappear into the hollows of marital dogma and find their architectural forte dying an early death? Who decides this? Gender equality in Architecture, too, has become an increasing concern. Women in architecture wish to be seen first and foremost as architects (not as women architects), but they cannot control the gendering gaze of society. A good architect is not defined by gender or that being a good architect and a woman isn‘t a singularly special occurrence– it‘s not just about sitting in an office with co-workers who respect your abilities regardless of gender. It‘s about all the other aspects of being a practicing architect where challenges present themselves. Have you ever met a female contractor – what would it be like on a job site? Would a female architect have to endure (or enjoy) the same relentless number of fishing and hunting stories that a male hear?Surely the tenor of the typical job site conversation would be different – not more or less respectful, just different. It could be the little things like the type of shoes someone chooses to wear. Does that really matter? Probably not but the construction worker who has never noticed what shoes his wife is wearing would notice what is on the feet of a female architect visiting the site. Acting or dressing ―like a man‖ — the advice women have received for decades as the means to blend into the workplace — only entrenches a masculine norm. Yet difference in itself is not the issue. Indeed, feminism encourages practices that accommodate differences among people and cultures. But discrimination remains, if not a universal experience, then surprisingly commonplace. From lower pay and fewer promotions to stereotypes about their design skills, women architects continue to struggle to be accepted as equal players. Females believe they would be paid more if they were male, and also experience sexual discrimination at work on a weekly or monthly basis. The objective is to find out and analyze how this idea of gender in profession works silently all over the world specific to Architecture. The research revolves around the aspects of gender biases, opportunities and issues of being a woman architect. It also measures women to men gap in the domains of practice, education and research. Is the profession really biased towards men? What causes imbalance between the numbers of girl-students and women-professionals in Architecture? What are the issues which force women to leave architecture
  7. 7. as profession or prevent them from shouldering leadership responsibilities? Can these issues be resolved by examining carefully the reasons? To try to answer all these questions is just a beginning, the big idea remains to inspire the women architects to keep up the good work and erase all question marks on their capability and competence. The possibility of doing so may be by simply being who we are and the way we are. The hope lies in the gender-sensitization of all the stake-holders and understanding the fact that best qualifications, however, is one‘s own work in the form of buildings, projects and architectural research. That attracts attention, arouses expectations and challenges one to do more. May be, then your gender won‘t matter anymore and the word ‗Architect‘ shall be all inclusive. How to begin a practice, how to revive a practice after a sabbatical from childcare, how to keep abreast of current systems used and innovations in the field, how to adopt a support team, how to overcome social isolation and postpartum depression in the wake of getting back to the profession, are questions that many seek answers to and are eager to adopt. These are challenges no doubt but not insurmountable. There are a number of different frameworks for undertaking gender analysis. This report outlines the progress of feminism in doing this in architectural design and planning arenas. It also looks at issues that need to be addressed to undertake gender analysis for each of the different aspects. The research draws on concepts from a number of different frameworks, primarily literary works and past precedents.
  8. 8. 1.2. Theoretical and conceptual context In the recent years, much attention has been paid to the careers of women in the construction and architecture in particular. Difficulties faced by women working in the architecture profession have been identified as long working hours, poor pay, paternalistic culture, sexism and task restriction. These are all measured against an assumed masculine norm, however, there is little or no work on what constitutes this norm or how it came to be established, other than an idea that it is due to the critical mass of men involved in the industry and related cultural assumptions. It has been argued that what it means to be an architect has been determined and tightly controlled by male architects and women are thereby excluded from these ‗masculine‘ norms. It is important that the norm of masculinity in the construction industry must be critically examined. Through the exclusion of women from what is commonly seen as ‗manly technologies‘, a vicious cycle has appeared where women are often intimidated to learn because they are viewed as technologically ignorant, or not capable. This in turn breeds a further lack of confidence. This common viewpoint where women are seen as less capable with technology than men, leads one to think of the gender imbalance within the architectural profession. Although the numbers of women entering into architectural education are equal or sometimes even more than their male counterparts, these numbers do not carry through to the professional workplace. So why is still so difficult for women to break through a traditionally male dominated field when they are equally as educated and capable? A large part of the answer could lie with the vicious cycle mentioned above. The findings reported widespread experience of sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and the gendered nature of architectural salaries, as well as other data, drawing a dismal picture of women‘s professional experiences in the industry. So the condition raises some questions about the different locations and uses of this identity category, particularly in relation to its other, the ‗architect‘. The term ‗woman architect‘ implicitly genders the term ‗architect‘, as male. At the same time, the architect‘s masculine sex disappears or is disguised behind the word, architect. It is the woman part of the phrase that becomes identified with a gender when we apparently introduce gender into gender neutral architecture by affixing woman to architect. We reinforce the visible and invisible patterns of gender production by using the pair architect/woman architect. The question is about the challenges of being a woman in this profession. It would make more sense on one hand to ask these questions to a woman who is in the field of architecture – but maybe that‘s the point. How do men feel about women in architecture?
  9. 9. For most part, development of the urban environment over time displayed little acknowledgment of gender differences. Consequently, with the rise of the modern workspace and a transformation of work ethics, professionals in the fields of planning, architecture and urban design did not distinguish gendered needs in the city. These professionals are the women (and men) who sought to maintain the balance between the identification of feminine perspectives as a unique and integral part of planning and development. With the active involvement of women in bettering the urban fabric, their approach distinguishes issues of gender from those more generally associated with unequal treatment. Nonetheless, the early history of these professions embodies one striking similarity, that there is a sexual division of labour, where the primary concerns of women lay in more socially oriented aspects of the profession. To some extent, it can be argued that the theoretical context of this has not changed a great deal since the rise of prominent female roles within these high profile professions. With the emergence of feminist studies and the growing recognition that women play a pivotal role in the design and functionality of our cities, social sciences and scholarship began to identify ways in which the interests of women could be better addressed. To fully appreciate the context in which gender is applied to careers in the built environment, the concept of gender, as well as the way in which gender fits in and affects the urban environment, must be examined.
  10. 10. Chapter 2: INDIAN HISTORY AND WOMEN 2.1. Women in ancient India 2.1. a. Introduction There‘s nothing groundbreaking or new about the kind of life Indian women lived in ancient time. The Rig Vedic Women in India enjoyed high status in society. Their condition was good. But from enjoying free and esteemed positions in the Rig-Vedic society, women started being discriminated against since the Later-Vedic period in education and other rights and facilities. Child marriage, widow burning, the purdah and polygamy further worsened the women‘s position. The epics and Puranas equated women with property; a few Puranas treated them no better than beasts. Women were looked down upon as creatures worse than depraved men. Even Buddhism did little for women. Though the Maurya kings often employed female bodyguards, spies and `Stri-adhyaksha mahamatras‘, their status was still quite bad. Upper caste ladies had to accept the purdah. During this period men were polygamous and widow burning was an accepted norm. Arthashastra imposed more stigmas on women as Kautilya dismissed women‘s liberation and they were not free even to go elsewhere without husband‘s permission. They became worse off in the Gupta period. The Smritishastras abused them; Manu dictated a woman would be dependent on her father in childhood, on her husband in youth and on her son in old age. Apart from child marriage and sati, prostitution and devadasi system became widespread. Kalidasa mentions the presence of many devadasis in Ujjain temples. Hiuen Tsang spotted many of them at a sun temple in eastern Sindh. Southern temples had devadasis in hordes.
  11. 11. ANCIENT WOMEN AND EDUCATION There are some bright exceptions in this dismal picture. The role of women in Ancient Indian Literature is immense. Ancient India had many learned ladies. There were two types of scholarly women — the Brahmavadinis, or the women who never married and cultured the Vedas throughout their lives; and the Sadyodvahas who studied the Vedas till they married. Panini mentioned of female students‘ studying Vedas. Katyana called female teachers Upadhyaya or Upadhyayi. Ashokagot his daughter, Sanghamitra, inducted into preaching Buddhism. From the Jain texts, we learn about the Kousambi princess, Jayanti, who remained a spinster to study religion and philosophy. Often, Buddhist nuns composed hymns. Women did write Sanskrit plays and verses, excelled in music, painting and other fine arts. ANCIENT WOMEN AND POLITICS Women often enjoyed prominent roles in politics. Megasthenes mentioned the Pandya women running the administration. The Satavahana queen, ―Nayanika ruled the kingdom on behalf of her minor son. So did Pravabati, daughter of Chandragupta II, on behalf of the minor Vakataka prince. A little after the Gupta period, queens used to rule in Kashmir, Orissa and Andhra. Princess Vijaybhattarika acted as the provincial ruler under the Chalukya King; Vikramaditya I. Women were provincial and village administrators in the Kannada region. 2.1. b.Vedic Period In the later Vedic period, the position of women gradually deteriorated. The period clearly sees the growing tendency to stratify society along gender lines. Women lost their political rights of attending assemblies. Child marriages also came into existence. According to the AitareyaBrahmana a daughter has been described as a source of misery. The Atharva Veda also deplores the birth of daughters. The system of Sati emerged in the shape of a formal custom during later Vedic period. The Artharva Veda mentions that it was customary for the widow to lay symbolically by the side of her husband's corpse on the funeral pyre. During the period of smritis women were bracketed with the sudras and were denied the right to study the Vedas to utter Vedic mantras and to perform Vedic rites. Marriage or domestic life became compulsory for women and unquestioning devotion to husband was their only duty.
  12. 12. There are several references in the epics, Smritis and Puranas, where women and property are bracketed together. Women came to be regarded as a sort of property and could be given away or loaned as any item of property. It‘s because of this the Brahmanical law did not allow any property rights to women. The provision for stridhanawas of a very limited character and does not extend beyond the wife's rights to jewels, ornaments and presents made to her. 2.1. c. Post-Vedic Period (Upanishads, Puranic and Smriti Periods) The position enjoyed by women in Vedic period deteriorated in post-Vedic period. It was gradually degraded in the Puranic and Smriti periods. The description of position before BC 300 shows that she enjoyed a fairly high status, though not to the extent that she enjoyed in Vedic period. It appears that several drastic changes that took place in the Indian society from about BC 300 to the beginning of the Christian era led to the curtailment of freedom of women. Imposition of Brahminical rules and code of conduct, rigid restrictions imposed by caste system and joint family system were the main reasons for lowering of status in this period. A daughter began to be regarded as curse. They were denied the right of inheritance and ownership of property. Pre-puberty marriages came to be practised. She was forbidden to offer sacrifices and prayers and undertake pilgrimages. Practice of polygyny came to be tolerated. Some of the Dharamsastras mention about the prohibition of Niyoga and widow remarriage. The widow was asked to devote herself to an ascetic life at home. Marriage became an irrevocable union as far as the wife was concerned. The Smriti writers preached that the wife should look upon her husband as God. Widows were required to spend a life of penance and austerity. Sati had become popular by the 7th century AD. In this period, women were regarded just as a means of satisfying the physical desires of men. Just to refer one instance of Mahabharata, it is said that ‗there was no creature more sinful than man … woman is the root of all ills‘. This simple quotation is sufficient to prove that how disrespect was shown towards women. However, it is not out of place to mention here that Indian scriptures are full of paradoxical statements.
  13. 13. At one place, women were regarded as goddess, held in high esteem, where at other place in the same scripture, in some other context, they were regarded, no better than just slaves or chattels. Disregarding what was practised at any particular time, the ancient Indian scriptures and documents (Mahabharata, Ramayana, Vedic hymns, and various codes of the law of Manu) gave women a very high and protected place in their basic moral codes. Husband and wife stood as equals before God. Up to this period purdah (veil) was not commonly observed by women. Divorce was, however, not permissible to them. But then, it was not permissible to men either. Their position was not one of complete disability but one dictated by justice and fairness. Women used to help their male members of their family in economic pursuits. They sometimes accompanied their husband or other members of the family in hunting and agricultural pursuits. 2.1. d. Women in Mauryan Period During Mauryan period Brahamanical literature was particularly severe in the treatment of women and assigns them a very low status in the society. Greek traveller Megastheneswho visited Pataliputraduring Chandragupta Mauryaruletestifies to the growing practice of polygamy; employment of women as palace guards, bodyguards to the kings, spies etc. The Buddhist texts on the other hand are much more considerate in treating women. The suppressed condition of women in the society alarmed emperor Ashokawho felt the need to appoint a special group of Mahamattasthat would be concerned only with the welfare of the women. During Buddhist rule the position of women though inferior was not as badas it came to be in the later periods. During Gupta and post Gupta period, equating women with property took strong roots. The practice of using veils by women particularly in high caste families too came into vogue. In Kadambari,Patralekha is described as wearing a veil of red cloth. However,this custom was not practiced by common people. In south Indiathe position of women deterioratedin post Buddhist period. Remarriage of widows was not allowed and they had to cut off their hair, discard all their ornaments and eat only plain food. The tonsure of widows was a custom taken over from the norththat was adopted in south Indiaduring later times.
  14. 14. 2.1. e. Women in Mughal period Unlike in the ancient Indian period, the position and status of women in the Mughal period (age) was not quite high. Purdah and child marriage had become common. Except those of the lower classes, women in Mughal period did not move out of their houses. The Muslims women observed purdah much more strictly than the Hindus. The birth of a daughter was considered inauspicious, while that of a son was an occasion for rejoicing. On account of early marriage, there were many widows in our society. Generally, women in Mughal Period were not allowed to remarry. Polygamy was common among rich society. Divorce was not common among the Hindus, while it was permitted both for Muslim men and women. However, women exercised great influence at home and some of them helped their husbands in their avocations. Generally, it was the responsibility of the men to look after the economic affairs, and the women would take care of the needs at home. Though, the overall position of women in Mughal period was low, there were many Hindu and Muslim women of outstanding ability, whose fame is still relevant today. There were many Hindu women of outstanding ability during this period, notably Rani Durgawati of Gondwana, Rani Karmawati, Mira Bai, Tarabai, etc. Among the Muslim women in Mughal Period, Salima Sultan Begum, Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, NurJahan, MumtazMahal, Chand Bibi, Jahanara, Raushanara, Zeb-un-nisa, etc. played an important part in the affairs of that time 2.1. f. Women in the Buddhist Period: Many evil social practices, like the practice of prepuberty marriages, denial of right of women to education and also to mate selection etc were imposed on women during the periods of Brahmans and Puranas. In the Buddhist period, the position of women improved to some extent. In the religious field, women came to occupy a distinctly superior place. They had their own Sangha called Bhikshuni ‗Sangha‘, which
  15. 15. provided avenues of cultural activities and social services. They got ample opportunities in public life. However, their economic status remained unchanged. 2.1. g. Women in Medieval Period The period between 11th century to 18th century witnessed further deterioration in the position of women due to the impact of Muslim culture. In this period, female infanticide, child marriage, purdah system, sati and slavery were the main social evils affecting the position of women. The birth of a female child began to be regarded as curse, a bad luck. They were almost confined to the doors of their homes. There was further curtailment of freedom of women in matters of education, mate selection, public appearances, etc. Purdah system came to be rigorously followed. Women education was almost banned. More and more feeling of conservatism increased about women. She not only continued to hold low status in and outside home rather her position worsened in this period. It is often said that in India the purdah (veil) system came into existence only after the arrival of Moghuls. A.S. Altekar, in his book. The Position of Women in Hindu Civilization (1962) writes: ‗This for nearly 2000 years from BC 20 to 1800 AD, the position of women steadily deteriorated though she was fondled by the parents, loved by the husband and revered by her children. The revival of Sati, the prohibition of remarriage, the spread of Purdah and the greater prevalence of polygamy made her position very bad.‘ Thus, there was a vast difference between the status of women in the early Vedic period and the subsequent periods, stretching from post-Vedic to the medieval period. The dual standards of morality set by Manu Smriti and other Smritis continue to prevail right up to now though some changes are visible in urban educated women. 2.1. h. Women in British Period During the period of British rule of about 200 years (early 18th century to the first half of 20th century) some substantial progress was achieved in eliminating inequalities between men and women in matters of education, employment, social and property rights and so forth.
  16. 16. Sati, purdah, female infanticide, child marriage, inheritance, slavery, prohibition of widow remarriage and the lack of women‘s rights in different fields were some of the problems which attracted the attention of British Raj. Though the British rulers initially decided not to interfere with the traditional social fabric of Indian people (Hindus) and as such they took no steps to bring any change in the status of women in India. It is only in the latter half of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century that they took some steps to abolish or change some social customs through legislative measures. For such measures incentive was provided to them by some social reformers, such as Raja Ram Mohan Rai, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Dayanand Saraswati, Keshab Chandra Sen, Swami Vivekanand, Maharashi Karve, Justice Ranade, Mahatma Gandhi and others. Through the efforts and the various movements launched by these great social leaders of the 19th century before independence, it had been possible to get many legislations passed and public opinion mobilized in favour of some issues of social reforms. These steps have paved the way in removing the obstacles in the progress of women. Not only this, it had helped in eliminating inequalities between men and women and giving proper respect to the other-half of the society. The most significant legislations relating to the problems faced by the Indian (Hindu) women passed during British period were as follows: 1. Abolition of Sati Act, 1813. 2. The Hindu Widow Remarriage Act, 1856. 3. Civil Marriage Act, 1872. 4. Married Women‘s Property Act, 1874. 5. The Child Marriage Restraint Act (Sharda Act), 1929. 6. Hindu Law of Inheritance Act, 1929. 7. Hindu Women‘s Rights to Property Act, 1939.
  17. 17. 8. Hindu Marriage Disabilities Removal Act, 1946. Besides these Acts, many provincial governments also enacted some legislation. In 1779, infanticide was declared to be a murder by the Bengal Regulation XXI. In 1804, this was extended to other parts of the country. Another significant feature of the 19th century was the attempt made by social reformers to educate Indian girls. For more than 2,000 years, from about BC 300, there was practically no formal education for women. Only a few women of the upper castes and classes were given some education at home. The ideas of imparting education in a formal manner first emerged during the British period. Christian missionaries took great interest to impart education to the girls. It was in 1824 when the first girl‘s school was started in Bombay (Mumbai). In 1882, girls were allowed to pursue higher education. Since then, to pursue there has been a continuous progress in the field of education of girls in India. In the last decades of 19th century, a marked change took place in the outlook of both men and women about the education and employment of women as teachers, nurses, doctors, etc. This changed outlook towards women‘s education also helped in rising the age of marriage and enacting legislation to ban sati. Thus, the ground prepared by the 19th century social reformers and their untiring efforts led to the emancipation of women. This also helped them to take their rightful place in society. 2.1. i. After Independence In addition to the measures to uplift the status of women in India initiated by Britishers, many vigorous steps (legal, social, economic and political) have been taken by Government of India after independence by removing the hurdles put in their way by traditional past. The efforts of the social reformers and their movements launched in the pre-independence period also bore fruits. The Indian National Movement also led to the emancipation of Indian women. The leaders of the national movement realized that the liberation of the country from the bondage of imperialism was impossible without the active participation of women who constituted half of the population of the country. Most of the social reformers and thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries were influenced by the tenets of the liberal philosophy of the West, which emphasized the principle of contract rather than status, a
  18. 18. rational outlook of life and problems, freedom of speech, criticism of authority, questioning of accepted dogmas and finally the recognition of the value of the individual and insistence on the rights of man as opposed to his duties. They also got impetus from Upanishads and other Hindu scriptures. The decades after independence have seen tremendous changes in the status and position of the women in Indian society. The Constitution of India has laid down as a fundamental right the equality of sexes. But, the change from a position of utter degradation of women to a position of equality is not a simple case of the progress of women in the modern era. To uplift the status of women, many legislations pertaining to women were enacted after independence. These were mainly related to marriage, divorce, inheritance of property and employment. Some of the important Acts are mentioned below: 1. The Hindu Marriage Validity Act, 1949. 2. The Special Marriage Act, 1954. 3. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (amended in 1986 and 2010). 4. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956. 5. Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. 6. The Sati Prevention Act, 1987. 7. The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. 8. Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986. 9. Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2007. 10. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. 11. Compulsory Registration of Marriage Act, 2006. Besides, the Acts especially related to employment are:
  19. 19. 1. The Factory Act, 1948. 2. Employees Insurance Act, 1948. 3. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. 4. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. 2.2. Women and Culture 2.2. a. Introduction They call it bad Rape when someone is wrongly accused of something, and in recent Indian history both women and Hinduism have suffered just such an injustice. To be sure, women are sometimes egregiously mistreated in India, as elsewhere in the world. But this is not owing to Hinduism. Indeed, it is a violation of the Sanatana Dharma. Although the position of women declined in modern times—especially during the long period of foreign rule, which disrupted every aspect of society—most scholars agree that women in ancient India held a most elevated position. They had similar education as men and participated with men in philosophical debates. During Vedic times, women so inclined wore the sacred thread and were taught the holy mantras of the Vedas. Some were brahmavadinis, women who devoted their lives to scriptural study, expounded the Vedas and wrote some of the Vedic hymns. Women of the kshatriya (warrior) caste received martial arts coaching and arms training. The Vedas, Upanishads and other scriptures give numerous examples of women philosophers, politicians, teachers, administrators and saints. The Rig Veda says, ―The wife and husband, being the equal halves of one substance, are equal in every respect; therefore, both should join and take equal parts in all works, religious and secular.‖ The Upanishads clearly declare that we individual souls are neither male nor female. Hinduism teaches that each of us passes through many lives, both male and female. It further teaches the law of karma, which informs us that what we do to others will in turn be done to us—and that ahimsa, non-hurtfulness, must be the guiding precept of our lives. Thus, Hinduism gives no justification for the mistreatment of others, whether on the basis of gender or for any other reason. (In the actual lives of adherents, of course—as in any religion—―results may vary.‖)
  20. 20. Comparing the general position of women in our scriptures with those of any other faith, we will immediately discover their elevated status in Hinduism. The Semitic faiths, by comparison, associated women with evil and mortality. The Old Testament says, ―And a man will choose…any wickedness, but the wickedness of a woman…Sin began with a woman, and thanks to her we all must die‖. The New Testament, too, is partial to men: ―A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God‖. ―And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner‖. A strictly traditional priest could not officiate unless he was married, and her support was required in his profession. In Hinduism, girls are revered as forms of Goddess Lakshmi. Boys are not correspondingly revered as forms of Rama or Krishna. In the Sindhi, Punjabi, Nepali and other communities, girls are not supposed to touch the feet of their parents; instead, on occasions like Navaratri, everyone—including parents— touches the feet of the girls. We can inquire, in what major religion besides Hinduism does people worship the Supreme Being as Goddess? While the Western religions are male-centric, the largest pilgrimage site in North India (and second largest in the entire country) is Vaishno Devi. Throughout the country—north, south, east and west—one can see pilgrimage places centered around the shrines of various forms of the Goddess— Durga, Parvati, Kali, Lakshmi, Saraswati, etc. The Shakta Hindus consider the Mother Goddess to be the Supreme Creator; and even Vaishnavites and Saivites, who worship Lord Vishnu or Lord Siva as the Supreme Deity, affirm that God cannot be approached except through His Shakti.
  21. 21. Hindu scriptures are of two classes. Sruti is revealed scripture—the Vedas and the Upanishads. The smriti comprise lesser scriptural texts, composed by human beings—the Itihasas, Puranas and Dharmashastras. Within smriti, the Itihasas (the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata) are the most important and authoritative. By the time those were written (the ―epic period‖ of India‘s history), the position of women had deteriorated considerably, although there still existed women called brahmavadinis, who devoted their lives to study and spiritual meditation and who participated in the philosophical discussions. 2.2. b. Women in the Vedas Many of the Vedic rishis were women. Married and single women alike were acknowledged authorities on the Vedic wisdom. The prophetess Gargi composed several Vedic hymns questioning the origin of all existence. Other Vedic hymns are attributed to Vishwawara, Sikta and others. The Rig Veda identifies many women rishis; indeed, it contains dozens of verses accredited to the woman philosopher Ghosha and to the great Maitreyi, who rejected half her husband Yajnavalkya‘s wealth in favor of spiritual knowledge. It also contains long philosophical conversations between the sage Agasthya and his highly educated wife Lopamudra. Rig Veda clearly proclaims that women should be given the lead in ruling the nation and in society, and that they should have the same right as sons over the father‘s property. ―The entire world of noble people bows to the glory of the glorious woman so that she enlightens us with knowledge and foresight. She is the leader of society and provides knowledge to everyone. She is symbol of prosperity and daughter of brilliance. May we respect her so that she destroys the tendencies of evil and hatred from the society?‖ Atharva Veda states that women should be valiant, scholarly, prosperous, intelligent and knowledgeable; they should take part in the legislative chambers and be the protectors of family and society. When a bride enters a family through marriage, she is to ―rule there along with her husband, as a queen, over the other members of the family.‖ Yajur Veda tells us, ―The scholarly woman purifies our lives with her intellect. Through her actions, she purifies our actions. Through her knowledge and action, she promotes virtue and efficient management of society.‖ Woman as Goddess & Guardian:Goddess Saraswati, holding scripture, a vina, mala and yogi‘s water pot, represents the ideal Indian woman.
  22. 22. 2.2. c. Women in the Upanishads Each of the four Vedas has four parts, the fourth of which comprises its Upanishads, which expound the otherwise obscure philosophical meanings. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (part of the Yajur Veda) contains an account of a philosophic congress organized by King Janak of Videha. The aforementioned Gargi, one of the eminent participants, challenged the sage Yajnavalkya with questions about the soul which confounded that learned man. Another incident in the same Upanishad relates the spiritual teachings given by Yajnavalkya to Maitreyi. 2.2. d. Women in the Mahabharata In the epic history Mahabharata, the noble prince Bhishma Pitamah declares, ―The teacher who teaches true knowledge is more important than ten instructors. The father is more important than ten such teachers of true knowledge and the mother is more important than ten such fathers. There is no greater guru than mother.‖
  23. 23. Some people question Draupadi‘s having five husbands, considering that to be evidence of inferior status. Does the opposite practice, polygamy, indicate the inferior status of its male practitioners? By no means should Draupadi be considered subjugated. She did not hesitate to question Yudhisthira Maharaj, something which even his brothers would not do. When the Pandavas captured Ashwattama, who had mercilessly killed all five of Draupadi‘s sons in their sleep, Bhima and Krishna wanted to kill him. Despite her unimaginable grief, the compassionate Draupadi did not want another woman to suffer the loss of a child, and her moral strength and determination prevailed over the vengeful men. Certainly Draupadi, like all humans, had her moments of weakness. The scriptures show the various trials and tribulations in people‘s lives. Rather than judging people as right or wrong, good or bad, strong or weak, based on isolated characteristics or events, we should always look at the total picture. In the Mahabharata, Krishna accepted the curse of Gandhari, whose 100 sons were killed on the Kurukshetra battlefield. The bereaved woman blamed Krishna for not stopping the war. Krishna did not rebuke her—he listened respectfully and addressed her as Mother, accepted the curse and departed from the Earth. How can anyone claim that the Mahabharata is demeaning to women? 2.2. e. Women in the Ramayana Two incidents from the Ramayana are frequently cited to indicate the subjugation of women: Sita‘s Agni Pariksha, trial by fire, and her banishment to the forest. In those times, social standards were much stricter than the ―anything-goes‖ attitude common in today‘s world. Royalty in particular, unlike politicians today, were held to a high standard. As Rama and Sita were to become king and queen of Ayodhya, they were obligated to prove, through the Agni Pariksha, that Sita had remained chaste while held in captivity by Ravana. Sita‘s banishment to the forest is described in a section of the Ramayana called Uttara Ramayana. This entire section may well be an interpolation, written and inserted much later than Valmiki‘s original Ramayana, as the language is not consistent with the other parts of the Ramayana. Tulsidas and Kamban, the translators into Hindi (Ramcharitmanas) and Tamil (Ramavataram), do not include the Uttara Ramayana in their translations. But even if we do accept the banishment story, this is simply another incident of royalty being held to a lofty standard, being accountable to their subjects.
  24. 24. Sita is often characterized as submissive, never opposing her husband. Yet when Rama didn‘t want her to join him in the forest, she insisted—and prevailed—saying she was well versed in the Vedic tradition, according to which a wife‘s place was always with her husband. When Rama attempted to convince her (correctly in this case) that the golden deer was not real, and must be a demon in disguise, Sita would have none of it; she persuaded Rama to go after the deer. Rama entrusted Lakshmana with the protection of Sita while he chased the deer, but the strong-willed Sita insisted Lakshmana leave her and go to assist Rama. And though she had been categorically told not to cross the Lakshmana Rekha (a protective barrier), she still stepped out in order to feed the hungry guest— who was the demon Ravana in disguise. Even during the Agni Pariksha, Sita was not meek and submissive. She was angry, and she spoke her mind in no uncertain terms. And finally, she refused the conditions of being reunited with Rama and requested Mother Earth to take her back. In obedience, the Earth opened below her and closed again above her head. In her wise understanding of dharma, the magnanimous Sita even prevailed upon Hanuman to forgive her tormentors: ―Kindness is to be shown by a noble person either towards a sinner or to a virtuous person, or even to a person who deserves death, for there is none who never commits a wrong.‖ Perhaps that is why Valmiki, who wrote the Ramayana, speaks of it as the ―magnificent history of Sita‖ (―Sitayah charitam Mahat‖). 2.2. f. Women in the Manu Samhita The Manu Samhita, written long after the Vedic period, is one of the Dharma Shastras. Its derogatory statements about women have been highly publicized by those who would denigrate and destroy Hinduism. But Manu Samhita is a minor smriti; and while other sections form the basis for much of Indian law, its sections on women do not. Manu himself wrote, ―Where women are honored, there the Gods are pleased. Where they are not honored, no sacred rite yields rewards,‖ and ―Strike not even with a blossom a woman guilty of a hundred faults.‖ He insisted that a mother‘s wealth is to be inherited solely by her daughters, who also inherit some of the father‘s wealth.
  25. 25. 2.2. g. Women in India Today Social customs vary from age to age and from place to place. India‘s customs regarding women were severely impacted by the centuries of invasions and foreign occupation, when the careful protection of Hindu women became essential. All aspects of Indian society have suffered the British-imposed Christian educational system, the tearing apart of families by proselytizing faiths determined to gain converts by any possible means, and the further disruptions caused by a relatively swift change from a historically stable, largely agrarian society to one intensely focused on manufacturing and technology. Under the influence of the male-centric Western religions, the role that comes most naturally to most women—wife and mother, the children‘s first guru, the Shakti of the home, the preserver and enhancer of the spiritual force field of the home and family—has been effectively disparaged and has become so despised in the mass mind that any reference to it is now perceived as an attempt at subjugation. Every religion looks to its scriptures and its holy men and women for guidance. What other religion has access to the sort of guidance regarding women that is contained in our revealed Hindu scriptures? What other religion has scriptures that treat women with respect, not to mention reverence—and that speak of God as both male and female (though ultimately neither)? What other religion has female leaders comparable to our great women gurus? Although the more recently written smriti scriptures show considerable divergence from shruti through the millennia, our revealed holy texts depict the noble place of women in society. As the dawning Sat Yuga returns in its fullness and the entire world comes to appreciate and honor the Sanatana Dharma, we can look forward to the time when women will once again be accorded respect and their rightful place in society—each one revered, whether she chooses to focus on the role of wife and mother or to become a scholar, philosopher, temple priest, medical practitioner, scientist, author, astronaut, artist or stateswoman. 2.3. History of feminism The following section briefly outlines feminist movements from a historical perspective, from the position of the built environment, as well as an independent field of literary discourse and study. The analysis of gender is also discussed in light of the roles and positions of women in the professional world.
  26. 26. Feminism encompasses a range of discourses and practices committed to the political, economic and social equality of women and to a doctrine of social transformation which aspires to establish a world for women beyond rudimentary equality. With the increased development of feminist approaches to disciplines and professions, discussions in planning and design regarding the needs and experiences of women are becoming more common. Alongside increasing dialogue regarding feminist issues, there are now also more collaborative approaches to professional practice. Such concepts of feminist planning and design can be expressed within a professional code, values in professional relationships, address power imbalances, equity, emphasis on process and the natural environment. Further, its role within the realm of the built environment and planning professions would useful to informing awareness in development. Feminist studies have long been concerned with the environment. However, this study historically refers to the natural environment. Primarily through eco-feminism, extensive focus has been placed on the relationships between women and nature, its preservation, and the prevention of its destruction. The designed environment -- the places and spaces that human beings design and create -- is largely absent from the women's studies agenda. Designed environments are only in more recent years being taken into account within academic teaching, conferences, and journals, despite the rich outpouring of feminist work in design and related technology fields, and despite the critical importance of the environments where we live, work, and play to women's well-being and women's empowerment. 2.4. Women in modern India Our Indian sub-continent is gradually emerging as a powerful land since women began playing significant role for the development of the nation. Role of woman in modern India can be called as phenomenal. The transition of woman from the past to present is worth mentioning. Woman who once considered being the masters in the art of home making are now considered to be the forces that shape a country. ―The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.‖ -Albert Einstein PRACTICAL STATUS OF INDIAN WOMEN There was a time when women were just kitchen keepers and house keepers in the Indian society. Gradually women began to get educated, even highly educated and a stage came when some of them came out on the social and political field to rub shoulder with the men folk in these fields. The freedom
  27. 27. struggle of India was the opening up of the new horizon for womanhood in India. In modern India, women have adorned high offices including that of the President, Prime minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, etc. “LET THE WOMEN REACH THE SKY WHICH IS THE LIMIT!” 2.5. The Changing Scenario In those days women faced many Social Problems like Dowry, Child Marriages, Death during Childbirth, Sati and many social problems but nowadays the status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia. The year 1995, was declared as the International Year for Women throughout the world. The women were made aware of their status and place in society. Women are now no longer in slumber. They are awake and moving fast. 2.5. a. Performance of Women There is no arena, which remained unconquered by Indian women. The most important name in the category of women politicians of recent times is Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Kiran Majumdar Shaw is the richest Indian woman. Some of the notable and outstanding women who set examples for others are Mother Teresa, Kalpana Chawla, Kiran Bedi, Sarojini Naidu, etc. Indian women have mastered anything and everything which a woman can dream of. But she still has to go a long way to achieve equal status in the minds of Indian men. 2.5. b. Role of Women inModern India The status of women in modern India is a sort of a paradox. The modern Indian women have honed their skills and jumped into a battlefield of life fighting against social restrictions, emotional ties, religious boundaries and cultural clutches. She can now be seen working on par with men in every field. As compared with past women in modern times have achieved a lot but in reality they have to still travel a long way. Their path is full of roadblocks. The women have left the secured domain of their home and are now in the battlefield of life, fully armored with their talent. They must avail themselves of the educational opportunities provided and learn to empower themselves.
  28. 28. "Educate a man and you educate an individual. Educate a woman and you educate a family." -- A.Cripps
  29. 29. Chapter 3: ROLE OF WOMEN ―A woman is the full Circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform‖. Diane Mariechild Historically women in India were revered and the birth of a girl was widely believed to mark the arrival of Lakshmi – the Goddess of wealth and riches. Women have been considered ‗janani‘, i.e., the progenitor and ‗ardhanigini‘ i.e., half of the body. Women are also considered to be an embodiment of Goddess Durga. Women have shouldered equal responsibilities with men. Widespread discrimination against women is, however, reflected in recurrent incidents of rape, acid throwing, dowry killings, wife beating, honour killings, forced prostitution, etc. Some of these issues were highlighted by ‗Satyamev Jayate‘ (Truth alone prevails) – an acclaimed television show hosted by Bollywood icon Aamir Khan. A global poll conducted by Thomson Reuters in 2012 rated India as the ―fourth most dangerous country‖ globally for women, and the worst country for women among the G20 countries. Gender discrimination is not only inequitable but also hampers the development of the nation. Evidently no country can sustain its development if it underutilises its women, who constitute almost half the population. Despite some basic changes in the status and role of women in the society, no society treats its women as well as its men. Consequently, women continue to suffer from diverse deprivations from kitchens to key-boards, from the cradle to the grave across nations. But, as Kofi Annan stressed, no development strategy is more beneficial to society as a whole than ―treating men and women alike‖. Besides, their entrepreneurial role in cities, Indian women contribute significantly to agricultural activities, handicrafts, village art and crafts. Factors impeding the advancement of women include lack of access to housing and basic services, inadequate support services and technologies for reducing drudgery and occupational health hazards and for enhancing their productivity. This necessitates devising of a broad-based strategic action plan for the realisation of equal partnership of men and women in all spheres of life and economic activity. True, there are some striking cases of breaking the glass ceiling. The names of Meera Kumar, Speaker of the Lok Sabha; Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament; Chanda Kocchar, Chairperson, ICICI Bank; Shikha Sharma, Chairperson, Axis Bank; Kalpana Morarka, India Head, JP Morgan and Sudha Sharma, Chairperson, CBDT easily come to mind. But as one swallow
  30. 30. does not make a summer, the fact of some women occupying top positions does not make the development process broad-based, equitable and inclusive. Clearly, much more needs to be done. The gross under-representation of women and the attitudinal bias against women is strikingly reflected in several areas of employment like the police, the judiciary and the law, etc. The correction of this unhappy situation requires focused intervention targeting education, training, child care, health, nutrition, credit, employment, welfare services support and legal safeguards. In the struggle for independence, it was stressed that political freedom must ultimately lead to emancipation of women by eliminating shortcomings in terms of education, nutrition and health. But this aspiration is yet to be realized. Investing in women‘s capabilities and empowering them is the best way to advance economic growth and overall development. The Indian political system has also been characterised by concern with women‘s status and rights. This is reflected in various constitutional provisions. But robust gender laws need to be effectively enforced. Laws relating to marriage, divorce, maintenance and inheritance have not been fully effective because of their inherent problems. Hence, attempts to provide de jure equality to women must be carried to their logical conclusion. This requires tougher laws, stricter enforcement and exemplary punishment. Let us do some number crunching: As per 2011 Census, there were 940 women for every 1000 men in India. Female literacy in India is 65.46% as against male literacy of 82.14%. As at end-March 2011, 21% of total bank deposit accounts constituting merely 12 % of total deposits were held by women. Similarly, women availed only 18 % of the total small credit from banks in 2011.Women constitutes about 25% of the formal employment in India whereas 84 % of rural women continue to be engaged in agricultural production. Hence there has to be a shift from narrow welfare measures to broad-based development. There has also been a greater awareness of the need for inculcating confidence among women, generating awareness about their rights and privileges and training them for economic activity and employment. The benefits of development must extend to women both qualitatively and quantitatively. Gender-specific policies with emphasis on activities and resources beneficial to women may help in providing greater opportunities because of the injustices against women. But what is required is affirmative action in areas, such as, education, health and welfare to overcome entrenched discrimination caused by gender bias, denial of opportunities, lack of employers‘ trust in their capabilities and apprehension about not getting a fair deal. The national policy for empowerment of women stresses policies, programs and systems to ensure mainstreaming of women‘s perspectives in all developmental processes, both as agents and beneficiaries. It is time now for us to make a difference and effect a mindset change in the oppressively male-centric scheme of things and bring about true socio-economic empowerment of women across regions, regions and classes. We can-and we must- do this. But gender integration and promotion of a cohesive social framework requires active participation of all stakeholders in the development process, including the society at large, government, educational institutions, premier technological institutions,
  31. 31. voluntary agencies, policy makers and women themselves. The journey of emancipation of women has crossed many milestones. But affirmative action is required for women to play their rightful role in the society. The task ahead may be long and tortuous. But let us make a beginning immediately. As a woman in Indian society, I find that the world is changing a lot in terms of acceptance of the many roles of women as professionals, as bread-earners in families and as independent thinking individuals. The traditional Indian woman has evolved to prove herself equal in many professions as well as proved better suited than men in others. The situation for the changing role of women is improving fast. On the other hand, female feticide, dowry deaths and domestic abuse provide a macabre background of primitive barbarism. In the typical Indian Society, you find that there are still expectations and assumptions about women that are not so much relevant to their current status, but a clear hangover from our suppressive past. This may be more obvious with traditional women or women in rural societies, but it is extremely prevalent in urban ones as well. We are speaking of ―running the home‖ kind of stuff. Regardless of how hard the man and woman of the house work, when it comes to women and society, there are certain areas of the home that are the woman‘s province in happy times and her nemesis in not so happy times. ―As the woman of the house, you should….‖ is a familiar refrain for most women in India.‖ Indian Women‘s clothing is another externally imposed recommendation backed by vicious judgments. A pregnant woman is a public drop box for intrusive recommendations. I think it is high time that we as citizens of modern India took a good hard look at our automatic assumptions and investigated which among these are still applicable today, and which ones we simply need to let go. Typical situations we see include the woman bringing a cup of hot tea for her man returning from work, or the woman returning home after her husband and heading straight to the kitchen to cook dinner, and so on. On an average, in any home where women are working, their income is also important to the well-being of the home and the living standards. Where it is not a question of money, it is generally possible to employ someone for the work in the house. So when we speak of a traditional role of a woman being responsible for the efficient running of her home, it is something we need to be aware of as an additional expectation made from her. The traditional role of a man has been the one of earning the money for the running of the home. This has changed to a great extent. Working women contribute to the expenses of running their homes as well. However, there has been little contribution from men in terms of shouldering some of the responsibilities of women. One interesting insight I received into this was from a friend. He said, ―See, women find the outside world challenging and attractive. They like the freedom it brings to them. So they enter the world. There is no reason for a man to find the women‘s traditional role appealing, so he doesn‘t. No one has forced the women to step into the man‘s role, and no one should force the men to step into a woman‘s role‖. On the surface, this seems to strike sense. However, the flaw lies in an assumption of current roles that are the same as traditional roles and that the women are entering ―a man‘s territory‖. This simply doesn‘t hold
  32. 32. true in most cases today. Women are educated and often have their careers well before they get married and it is as much their right as the man‘s work is his. However, the other part, where the men don‘t find the house work appealing enough to invest effort in still holds true. This is something that needs to be taken an honest assessment of. If we abandon the traditional perspective of division of responsibilities inside and outside the home (since it has already been broken in the outside the home area), we come to a situation where the couple are both inhabiting a home and earning and contributingtoward its running. What we need to find is a sharing of responsibilities inside the home as well, that allows both some dignity. This would also help resolve many situations where a man feels threatened by a working woman. Why wouldn‘t he. She earns, she spends, she invests, and on top of that, she is independent in terms of being able to manage her own existence completely, including running of her own home. ‖It does not empower men to be left incapable of managing the home they live in‖. There is no point pushing the women down. What needs to happen is the removal of the ―un-machoness‖ associated with responsibilities at home and recognise it as the actions of a responsible and independent individual, whether male or female. This would actually add some power to the increasingly ―lazy‖ image of men among women and empower them with some self-respect, while empowering the women with acceptance and support from the one source that matters the most. Please note that we are not speaking of every man out here. There are many couples who are already on this journey and find themselves comfortable both inside and outside the home, and the mutual respect and closeness can be seen a mile off in such couples. We sincerely think that this is an important adaption that is the need of today‘s times.
  33. 33. Chapter 4: Education and Employment There have been subsequent generations of women in architecture, whose practices belong to the post- Independence period. The second generation women studied architecture during the heady days of Nehru‘s vision for a modern and socialist form of state controlled industrializing India as the field of architecture began to become more popular. They worked with the restrictions on imports of construction materials, labour intensive and low cost methods as well as low energy construction technology. Apart from that, it was also personally a hard struggle where they had to, by and large, deal with severe social restrictions, absence of any networking and lack of professional understanding or gender awareness among parents and the society. The situation has become easier as time has passed. Here it is important to point out that many architectural practices are increasingly based on a creative collaboration between a husband and a wife as partners. Or in rare cases an unrelated man or women also join hands for setting up an office. This model has proved powerful and successful all over the world. Women professionals often struggle in isolation; instead such partnerships become mutually supportive. This arrangement has its own advantages and disadvantages, sometimes leading to misattribution of the work to the male partner, often because he is better known, or, rarely, the other way around. Generally the partners‘ design jointly, however, it is rather difficult to exactly separate the roles and contribution of each one. During the education in the 1960s and the 1970s, women in architecture were exposed to modernist theories and praxis which forms an underlying layer of their design approach. However, many have moved beyond its narrow confines and have gone much further in myriad directions. Their practices have succeeded greatly in the mainstream besides making a name for themselves in sustainable architecture, in the field of conservation and preservation with some of them developing multiple identities. Thus, there are highly accomplished women architects in India today whose work has a wide range and an excellent quality. They now have a body of work and also national recognition. A few successful women architects should not be taken as evidence that there are no barriers to women‘s total acceptance in the profession. The gap between politically assumed/constitutionally guaranteed gender equality and the ground reality, though decreasing day by day, is still vast and needs to be recognised. As mentioned in the beginning the dropout rate of women graduates from the profession is high due to several reasons.
  34. 34. It is primarily because it takes a long time to be recognised in the field of architecture for men and women both, the social odds being particularly against women. The period of investing in a woman‘s career generally overlaps with having a family and raising children among other things. If a break is taken to raise a family, then it is difficult for her to catch up as the situation changes in a few years, in terms of professional set-ups, building technology, materials and even software, including her self-confidence. As a result, in the collective consciousness of the society and the discipline, the professional environment is gender neutral although women have minimal visibility in the public domain, marginal leadership positions and a non-iconic presence, indirectly resulting in a predominant patriarchal culture. 4.1. Women and Architectural Education Education transmits knowledge and skills. The educational institution is where one's values are interpreted and legitimized. . The discipline of architecture is deeply embedded in the cultural world and the culture of an institute is closely connected to its teaching ideology and pedagogy. ―Architectural education, although obviously intended as vocational training, is also intended as a form of socialization aimed at producing a very specific type of person. All forms of education also socialize students into some sort of ethos or culture. These two functions are inseparable." ―Architecture is inclusive of allied and applied aspects of humanities, aesthetics, built environment techniques and skills, technology and engineering sciences and allied management systems. While utilising relevant information and knowledge from these disciplines, it goes beyond them to be a unique and holistic discipline of architecture.‖ Humanities, social and building sciences and structure courses are kept as major papers to complement the designing process since architecture is also about understanding people and dealing with complex interpersonal relationships at all stages in the practice. The assimilation of the various related courses with the design curriculum should help to create more holistic studios ideally; the reality needs a check though. The architecture profession has long been dominated by men. This does not mean, however, that many women have not become architects. Women make up between 25 and 50 per cent of the student population in architectural schools or sometimes more than that. The majorities of these women complete their degrees but why, after they have completed their education, many women apparently leave the profession. Institutional practices such as organization of curriculum, the relationship between theory and practice and administrative set-up enable or constrain particular forms of knowledge. The popular opinion
  35. 35. in India is that architectural education is bias-free, relatively liberal and gives equal opportunity to all for success. In India, professional schools generally suffer from implicit gender bias because feminist thinking has not entered the mainstream educational consciousness. As a result, without the integration of feminist theory, the creation and transmission of knowledge on designed environments through curricula and pedagogy are largely missing. According to the data by Council of Architecture website, the number of girl students in Architecture has been constantly rising from 70‘s till date. In 70‘s the average number of girl students getting registered with the Council was around 550 and in 2014 it was the maximum of 4034. 4.2. Studying Architecture As educators, we want our students to embrace the professional world as if there were no barriers, while knowing that these persist. Do architecture schools have a responsibility to better prepare their graduates — male and female — for the profession‘s gender politics? Do we increase the possibility of failure by glossing over these issues with the rhetoric of progress and equality? Indeed, by acknowledging a less- than-level playing field, architecture schools might help their female graduates to persevere by providing theoretical and practical coping skills that could lessen the dramatic attrition rate of women in the profession. At the same time, male graduates would develop greater understanding of the need for and their role in fostering a better-integrated and equitable workforce. But these discussions are not happening in most architecture schools is unsurprising. To an astonishing degree, the ―subject‖ in their curricula, as communicated in studios and history/theory courses, remains male. Beyond syllabi and textbooks, there are other ways in which schools communicate to students that the ―best‖ architects — the ones you want to learn about and from — are and male. . Since architects tend to lecture about their own projects, students, accordingly, hear less about the work of women. Lectures that address the histories of female architects are rare and often set apart as special ―diversity‖ lectures, rather than incorporated into general programming. Other departments today — sociology, history, literature, et al. —have abundance of courses that broaden students‘ knowledge beyond the legacy and experience of ―dead men.‖ Where are these courses in architecture schools? And how has this gulf between architecture and other disciplines been sustained for so long? In recent decades we‘ve seen an explosion of scholarship on the relationship of architecture to gender. While one could in the past blame a lack of supporting materials for these curricular gaps, that excuse is no longer tenable. More and more, the absence of women as subjects of architecture seems less
  36. 36. an oversight than a tacit exclusion. The crucial transition from school to practice is at the heart of the profession‘s gender imbalances, for while women graduate from architecture schools at near parity with men, less than 20 percent become licensed practitioners. 4.3. Women in Architectural Practice: A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE It is worthwhile to take an overall perspective of Women in Architecture around the world for which the comparative analysis of four regions: England, the United States, Australia and India is being presented. England: - In England, after the First World War, opportunities opened up for women in architecture. It was after the Second World War that critics began to question the male dominated nature of the profession. RIBA also started holding exhibitions on women architecture in 1984. A survey with about 170 respondents was conducted in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, America, Australia, Germany, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand with women in various arenas of and around architecture. 37 respondents were not working in architectural practice. Of these 1 was engaged in architecture research, 6 were in education and remaining were not working in architecture practice as they either chose alternate careers or were not working at all. When asked about the legal contract, most did have a written contract, but some did not. This leads to concerns about lack of clarity around the agreed basis of employment. The idea that men and women should be treated alike in terms of salary and other rewards seems an elementary notion of fairness and consistency of treatment but for most people lack of knowledge made it difficult to demand this straightforward right. Lack of transparency in relation to pay was a crucial consideration as most interviewees were completely unaware of the salaries obtained by colleagues so it was difficult to argue any case about the consistency of treatment. Responses to the questionnaire indicated that there were instances where males were favoured over women in obtaining promotion. Only women that are prepared to be men (behaviourally) had a slight chance of promotion. A concern raised from the questionnaire was that some women suffered from loss of confidence because of their treatment. Replies to questions on working hours demonstrated many offices endorse a long-hours culture which employees felt forced to go along with to show their ‗commitment‘. It was evident, particularly from the interviews that many women would have appreciated the opportunity to work in a more flexible way. Long hours and inflexibility were cited by some interviewees as reasons for their departure from the
  37. 37. profession. It was clear that many people felt that the work/life balance and the long hours culture had contributed to their decision to leave. The RIBA commissions an annual survey providing statistical information on schools of architecture. The 2000/2001 report indicates that the proportion of female students has steadily risen over the past decade to 37% and that the dropout rates for male and female students are similar. There were 14 respondents who are currently involved in teaching architecture and one who had left. 3 of the 14 were also working in practice. Answers to questions on equal opportunities were generally inconclusive but one respondent did state that she had been advised that women are not in senior enough positions to sit on the University equal opportunities committee. 28 students‘s currently studying and 18 women who have studied in the last 10 years responded to this section of the questionnaire. It is significant to note that on being asked whether they wanted to leave architecture because they had chosen the wrong profession no respondents said ‗yes‘. They all gave other reasons for leaving and none said that they hated the activity of architecture. The United States: - Women make up more than half of the professional and technical workforce in the United States. While the status for women in the workforce has improved over the last several decades, many women still struggle for equality in many occupations. However, many still face overt or subtle employment discrimination, contributing to continued inequality. In December 2014, there were over 73 million working women in the U.S. While women were just under half of the general workforce (47%), they represented a majority of those in professional and technical occupations (51%). The proportion of women to men in the workforce changed dramatically from only a generation ago. In 1972, women represented just 38% of the workforce. After years of steady growth, the number leveled off in the mida1990s and has remained close to the current percentage for the last two decades. While a larger proportion of women are entering the workforce, uneven representation across occupations and industries persists. In 2013, 15% women were in architectural practice. Women have a lower workforce participation rate than men at every level of education; however, the gap shrinks at higher levels of educational attainment. Approximately 32% of women over the age of 25 with less than a high school diploma were in the workforce in 2013, compared to close to 60% of men with less than a high school diploma. Those not in the workforce either chose not to work or were no longer seeking work due to labour market conditions. Among those with a bachelor‘s degree or higher, 71% of women and 80% of men were in the workforce in 2013. Despite high levels of education, and strong representation in professional and technical occupations, women still face a persistent wage and earnings gap. While there are a number of factors that may influence the differences in earnings between men and women in the aggregate, (such as higher proportions of women in lower paying occupations) the wage gap continues
  38. 38. even within individual occupations. Amongst professional and technical workers, the wage gap persists in almost all occupational groups. Australia: - There are 18 Architecture Schools in Australia. In 2011 there were 9222 students in total across the two degrees. 42% of them were women. The proportion of women graduating from Architecture Schools increased rapidly from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties. It then leveled off. From 1990-1999, women averaged 40% of all graduates. From 2000-2010 this increased to 41% of all graduates. At the end of 2010, 975 students graduated, 427 of whom (44%) were women. 4 If we take registration as a measure of women‘s participation in the profession, there are 10,516 registered architects in the Commonwealth and 2,286 of them are women (21.7%). In 2004, women were 14.3% of registered architects. At work the membership of the Australian Institute of Architects can also be assessed. In 2012, there were 11,738 members of the Institute 3,020 were women. This constitutes 26% of Institute members. However, there are different categories of membership and the pattern of membership differs quite markedly for each gender. The Indian Perspective: - Women architects have been participating in the field in increasing numbers as designers (and as teachers/researchers) in contemporary times. However, even today, there are very few large practices where women are the sole principals. In the past 25 years, many women architects have opted to establish successful partnerships with their architect husbands or male/female partners. Some women work in governmental and municipal organisations. Many of them devise alternative models to mainstream practice or diversify into nontraditional roles. However, they are much less visible in terms of leadership, academic success and excellence in practice. This is universally applicable, in varying degrees, including to the situation in India as women professionals continue to face hurdles at various stages due to their gender in glaring contrast to other design fields such as media, fashion, graphics and textiles. Many women graduates give up the idea of working for someone or independently practice after a while. Many others branch out in related fields. As a result, women in architecture have not yet developed a critical mass in practice. This is ironic because their intake has been steadily increasing – from two/four women students in the 1940s – in the 280 odd colleges of architecture for the past 25 years. The key question is: Can anything be done at the level of education? The popular opinion of this situation is that processes in architectural education are biasfree and give equal opportunity to all for success. The women students‘ percentage of admission ranges from 50 per cent to 80 per cent today. In spite of this fact, the number of women in professional practice drops substantially to about 15 per cent to 17 per cent.
  39. 39. What are the hidden barriers for women? First of all, there is the equality myth. Without gender sensitivity, the built environment is commonly treated as a neutral background. In an attempt to be ‗mainstream‘, most of them stay away from ‗women‘s issues‘ for fear of being labeled as feminists or not being accepted as a ‗true‘ professional. This makes us take the situation for granted, adding to the marginalisation of the subject and its solutions. By contrast, in the USA for instance, by accepting the fact that there is direct/indirect discrimination towards women professionals, much has been achieved. Most famous and celebrated architects that students study and see in publications are male. There are relatively few women in high positions such as heads of departments of architecture or principals in firms. It is not often that women find representation in national architectural competition juries, in lecture series, as inauguration guests, on interview panels or on college inspection visits except as tokens. Central bodies like the Council of Architecture (CoA) or the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) also have very few women on their boards or in a position of leadership. All these factors combine to undermine the confidence of the woman, ultimately affecting her performance in practice. The architectural course is increasingly perceived as a ‗feminine‘ profession with the assumption that girls will be able to work from the office and also handle the home front. Both men and women graduates face difficulties in the real world. At the same time, women students have restrictions imposed on them due to their social conditioning and strict family conventions. Although this attitude has been changing in the last few decades, in most communities it has still not come to mean that women can become predominantly career/business oriented. The absence of research is reflected in lack of theoretical development on gender. Ignorance of these issues in practice gets reflected in design. This is compounded by the fact that gender is not acknowledged in built environment history and in related contemporary publications. 4.4. Gender Biases in Recognizing Good Work through Reputed Awards It is important to unravel why the gender identity of ‗‗star architects‘‘ tends to be male while recognizing the works of professionals. It posits that this masculine dominance has to do with a dovetailing of different factors. First, the traditional role model for architects has been gendered male, especially when that role model is manifested through the concept of ‗‗genius‘‘. Second, the words used to describe the performance of the avant-garde in architecture - cutting edge, innovative, daring, original - are more in
  40. 40. line with ‗‗masculine‘‘ than with ‗‗feminine‘‘ features. Third, the idea of authorship, crucial for the self- conception of the profession, benefits men more than women. This hypothesis is backed up by a discourse analysis of the jury citations that legitimise the selection of the Pritzker Architecture Prize winners from 1979 onwards. There exist many contributing factors reinforce one another, making for a system that produces many heroes and few heroines. The Pritzker Architecture Prize is now more than 30 years old yet the list of 37 laureates to date features only two women—Zaha Hadid in 2004 and Kazuyo Sejima in 2010 (as a partner in SANAA). From a feminist point of view, the favouring of individual authorship as exemplified in the Pritzker Prize poses multiple challenges. First of all, as is clear from the above analysis, the architect genius is traditionally gendered male and it is thus inherently difficult for women to fill these shoes. Second, even though the actual practice of the profession might evolve towards more collaboration, both with other architects and with other professions, the cultural system of merit necessitates the continuous production of role models—reinforcing rather than diminishing the importance of authorship. Third, the gender bias is so intimately interwoven with the very conception of the profession that it seems an almost insurmountable task to change it.6 To gauge career trajectories of women primarily through the prism of gender invites us to produce more subtle theories of identity, lived subjectivity and mechanisms of gender identification in feminist architectural research. The term, woman architect, invites us to think about the hyphenated nature of identity. 4.5. Women and research We are a design-focused discipline. The area of architectural research in India is by far the most neglected. In educational institutions, unlike the West, there is no strong tradition nor is there any strict research requirement for faculty promotion. The building industry, the architectural profession, the colleges of architecture-none is structured in a way that facilitates or promotes systematic inquiry for knowledge building. Designers generally rely on intuition, personal experience and precedents. The research limitation is acutely felt in teaching where a heavy reliance on western publications still exists, especially in courses on theory, history and technology. In addition we are faced with our society's poor awareness of design fields, especially architecture as well as the invisibility of gender discrimination. Within this context, the exclusion of gender considerations has specifically submerged the role of feminist knowledge in the discipline. This lacuna has direct implications on policy making. We also need to find
  41. 41. mechanisms for real estate firms and construction industries to support some of the research. There are vast avenues of inquiry that need to be addressed at individual, institutional and government levels. 4.6. Women in policy making and planning At the moment, women play rather insignificant role in bodies that control political decisions. Simultaneously design issues related to women are generally ignored in policy and planning processes. The first step therefore is accepting the reality of the situation in order to address the gender angle. The buzz words in planning today are, of course, "infrastructure development", "market forces" and "real estate growth"! Often we forget that cities are about people after all! Our cities have increasingly become less accessible to the marginalized population thatis the poor, physically challenged, children and women. For example, if we take the Indian streets, in the guise of "development" they have become more and more unfriendly towards the pedestrians (as footpaths are disappearing), the cyclists, the vendors and such others. In addition, in the physical planning processes in India, the neutrality of the user is taken-for- granted and the element of people‘s participation is minimal. We suffer from fragmented and contested nature of policy implementation. Like cities, gender relations are porous, multifaceted, and a constant work in progress. With increased violence inflicted on women in public spaces, the awareness about the urban environment and gender is growing. But this is not recognized at policy level. The urban public space is not just about women's safety but about their right as citizens to full access, including for pleasure. For example, the public transport design has to take into consideration the lived experiences of women not only in the growing numbers in the work force but also the home makers. The profession of architecture is changing in a positive way in the 21st century; it is much more collaborative, pluralistic and inclusive. New modes of practices are emerging and women can no longer be peripheral to it. Simultaneously, women are also increasing as primary clients and patrons as their money/social power rises in different fields. Let us challenge the status quo and create a climate to bring feminist perspective and discourse to the profession. I would like to end with the line: "We cannot change the world but we can certainly make a difference." 4.7. Women in Architecture Over the past couple of decades, there has been a growing interest in the history and theory of South Asian architecture, especially as the concept of ‗other‘ modernisms took root. The Modern Movement often coin cided with the modernization of postcolonial societies, India being one of them. After
  42. 42. Independence in 1947, she ( women ) employed architecture as a means of expressing the vitality and ―modern-ness‖ of the young nation state; freely adopting the design principles of the Modern Movement as a vision of the future, that was based on a functionalist language free of colonial associations and references to traditions. During the past six decades, a range of modern architecture evolved in the different regions of the subcontinent; affected by myriad of styles, forms and socio-political references. However, in the perception of the world, the richness and complexity of Indian architecture is limited to the celebrated edifices of the ‗star system‘ consisting of the male master architects who have dominated professional and scholarly discourses since the 1960s and 1970s. Within the trajectory of twentieth century modernism, women architects in India have been marginalized to a great extent. One of main questions is in the historical trajectory of Indian architecture, where are the women? In the 365 plus colleges of architecture, the intake of women students has been steadily increasing since 1990s. In fact, it ranges around 60% average just now. So the other crucial question is: what happens to the hundreds of women graduates? The glaring gap between their presence in educational institutions and in actual profession is highly visible. What is not visible is the indirect spatial discrimination that affects women users as 50% of the population. We need to seriously review women as designers and as consumers of space. There are many reasons for lack of such efforts in India but one of the main one is that our disciplines have no connection to the knowledge developed in the field of women's study. But before we go into it, it‘s important to go through a brief background about some of the pioneering women in India. An examination of the history of Indian architectural discourses reveals that, for the most part, issues of race, gender, ethnicity and nationality do not figure in the scholarship, unlike a number of other disciplines parallel to architecture. As the issue of gender has been widely ignored in theory and practice, it affects the production of feminist knowledge and submerges its role in the narrative. The narrative of women in the discipline, in a way, parallels the development of modern Indian architecture. As a few women began to join architectural courses in the 1940s, they were influenced by ideas and ideals of nationalism due to the freedom struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi being at its peak then. At the same time, their design attitudes were also not above the dominant impact of the current trends of western architecture then, such as the Art Deco, the International style, Brutalism, and the Garden City movement. Mostly educated in the West, they were shaped by the aesthetics and utopian aspirations of early modernism. Belonging to well-connected and liberal elite families, these women were exceptional not only in their choice of the profession but also in their personal lives as they worked towards careers that made them transgress established spatial and social boundaries of home. They led unconventional
  43. 43. personal lives in a society where women were traditionally defined by family, marriage and children. They had sophisticated taste and were aware of the arts such as literature, painting, dance and music. The second generation of women architects studied architecture during the heady days of Nehru‘s vision for a modern and industrializing India as the field became popular. Women architects had many vistas and varied challenges open to them in the twentieth century as designers, educators, researchers and critics as they were the beneficiaries of political reform and the project of modernity. In the past two decades, there has been a sharp increase in the number of women joining architectural courses in India. A few successful women architects are taken as evidence that there are no barriers to women‘s acceptance in the profession. So, the conference aims to ponder upon the issues and possibilities related to women in the field of architecture Development of our country depends on the empowerment of women. A man and a woman are like two wheels of a cart. The cart can move fast and safely too, when both of them pull it in the same direction and with equal strength. Hence no developing country or society can afford to ignore the role of women, if they are to progress. ―You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of women‖ -Jawaharlal Nehru.
  44. 44. Chapter 5: WOMEN IN ARCHITECTURE AND PLANNING Interest in the status of women throughout the world has resulted in, amongst other things, a steady growth in studies addressed to analyzing and highlighting the ―gender‖ factor and bias within the nature of housing and urban planning legislation. This chapter discusses the role and goals of women in architecture and planning. How the very nature of being female can affect and inform one‘s planning directions. These factors can be conscious decisions, or sub-conscious acts inherent to the comparatively compassionate and environmentally aware character of a woman. It is becoming more apparent that architectural authorities have a pivotal role in shaping the built environment through the production and implementation of development plans. However, research indicates that the needs of women have not been given as much attention as those of men in the formulation of such policies and that a generic, rather than gendered, approach to mainstreaming prevails. ―Gender is given a relatively low priority relative to other over-arching policy considerations, such as environmental sustainability or racial equality‖. While architectural authorities exert considerable influence over the design and operation of the built environment and the planning system, their decisions are based on Local, State, and Federal policies for development. The formation of such policies requires planners to integrate a variety of knowledge and experience in a broad range of social, economic and environmental considerations. It remains that, however, the needs and requirements of women, as practitioners in design, as well as users of the built environment have not been taken fully into account in planning policy and practice. As a result, the introduction of gender considerations into the statutory planning system has now become an issue of high priority in the development and implementation of planning policies and controls. Central to these developments is the process of community consultation and engagement. From this it can be seen that a transformation has to be prompted in the planning process, so that women may take an active role in decision making processes and allow them to be incorporated in the process of developing designs for residential areas that maximise the ease of (for example) travel to improve safety and amenity. Although there is increased integration of feminist dialogue in modern urban planning, the needs of women are not reflected in the same proportions in planning processes and the profession itself. Improvements to this phenomenon continue to be seen in additional community consultation, the steady rise of women in the workforce and in planning, and progress in the provision of infrastructure to cater for women‘s needs. Despite this, it can be said that women‘s contributions to planning may be under-
  45. 45. recognised. One explanation of this could be that women‘s ways of ways of knowing and working are different from the ―rationalist, competitive and hierarchical models promoted by the traditional architects‖, whether male or female. While there has been, through many years of study and evolution, significant data collected and generated on women and the problems they face, many aspects of feminism in architecture simply deal with education, employment, leisure, and health. However, discussion on equal access to opportunities and resources affect or reinforce the conditions of a female in an architectural and feminist perspective. Although blatant attitudes of sexism and exclusion are no longer common in today‘s architecture, planning and development, it is evident from studies of attitudes and outcomes of architectural policies that such orientations arise from architects failing to take into account that a diversity of interests must be considered. This is to say that architects have, for some time, made generalisations about the ―common good‖, glossing over key differentiating factors in the needs of men and women. Conversely, gender mainstreaming goes ―beyond a concept of ‗equality‘ based upon ‗treating everyone the same‘ (as men) because it takes into account the differing lives of women and men, and consequently requires planners to reassess, afresh, the land use and development requirements of each‖. Drawing on a synthesis of secondary data sources, including an extensive body of research and published material on ‗women and planning‘, and on ‗gender and space‘ we attempt to explain why it is important to mainstream gender into spatial planning, both at a professional level, and from feminist perspective. Over the last 20 years a wide range of international research has demonstrated that the needs of women have not been adequately taken into account in the planning of town and cities. It has been shown that gender differences have implications for all aspects of architecture and planning of the built environment, from the interior design of housing to the planning of entire cities. Based on this, one would have imagined their needs would be given higher priority in the planning process than has found to be the case. Specific gender roles result in women using the built environment differently from men, with distinct needs and expectations in respect of urban structure and planning policy. Today, most women combine paid work with caring for the family. For example, over 47 per cent of women of working age are in employment. The concept of mainstreaming gender studies into the profession can be applied to the allocation of resources and aid in the development of a more refined set of principles of social justice so as to redress gender inequalities. This is to provide for women the necessary tools so as to enable them to participate fully as political, social, and economic citizens. With this in mind, basic planning principles must be reconstructed in such a way that they are applicable to the relationships between the genders. In the public sphere, this means eliminating the barriers to women‘s participation in employment and community