November 21: “Measuring and evaluating ‘successful’ inclusion”

Reading

  • Shaw (2012) How do we evaluate the safety of women? In Building Inclusive Cities, Whitzman et al pp. 184-201
  • Khosla & Dhar (2012) Safe access to basic infrastructure In Building Inclusive Cities, Whitzman et al, pp. 117-139
  • Khosla (no date) Vienna, Austria: A model city for gender mainstreaming
  • http://www.inclusivecities.org/
  • Bauriedl, Chapter 10 in Moss & Falconer Al-Hindi (pp. 130-139)
  • Vaiou, Chapter 16 in Moss & Falconer Al-Hindi (pp. 207-214)

For those who would like to write a Reading Response for Nov 21, here are three questions that you may consider to prompt your writing:

  1. Craft a comprehensive definition of “inclusive cities” based on the Khosla & Dhar chapter and the Inclusive Cities website. According to these two texts, what does “inclusive cities” mean?
  2. How would you answer the question that Shaw poses in the title of her text? According to her chapter, how do we evaluate programs that address the safety of women? (You may also include a comment on Khosla’s overview of gender mainstreaming in Vienna, as applicable.)
  3. Bauriedl’s and Vaiou’s chapters move us away from a focus on cities, toward a focus on the academy. These authors speak to a different type of challenge related to inclusion: both chapters illustrate the ongoing challenges to carve out the space for feminisms in the field of geography in distinct academic and political-cultural contexts (although their comments absolutely apply in North American university contexts as well). Bauriedl and Vaiou also extend conversations that we had earlier in the semester (in particular, refer to the theorizations of gender in chapters we read by Geraldine Pratt and the mobility article by Susan Hanson). Taking these authors’ comments under consideration, reflect on how your understanding of feminist geography has changed over the course of the semester.

Lecture overview.

Gender Inclusive Cities Programme p4

Over the course of the semester, we have considered a number of variations on the theme of social inclusion and equity in cities. We have discussed everything from the sense of belonging (from access to safe streets to the affect of perceptual memory on our understanding of neighbourhood change) to efforts to improve the urban environment (including the successes and challenges of tools like women’s safety audits and other forms of participatory planning). These discussions have asked us to take seriously the ways that economic trends and political ideology converge through, inter alia, the framing of urban revitalization, including the discourses used to sell revitalization policies to urban publics. Most recently, we have examined how people make sense of their own urban experience, and how researchers can best collect and disseminate these stories in a way that appropriately reflects narrators’ truths. To a certain extent, then, we have covered a breadth of issues that indicate how, and for whom, cities work, as well as how marginalized communities are often disproportionately affected by urban change. This week’s topic focuses our attention to the how of urban social change: what are the specific measures that can be adopted to make cities more equitable for marginalized groups, and how do we evaluate what it means for measures to be successful?

As some of the pre-meeting questions intimate, these questions are inherently political. Programs and measures to address social inclusion require naming and targeting specific groups whose needs are deemed most pressing. They are funded through particular mechanisms; as we have seen in previous readings, funding structures respond to and reproduce existing social divisions. And what is the state’s responsibility to respond to these programs? More to the point: which level of government is responsible?

The last question speaks to pre-meeting question about zoning, the attempt to preserve wealth in certain neighbourhoods, and the displacement of poor people. This student asked how Vancouver, as a relatively new Canadian city, has fared in relation to economic changes, especially as compared to older cities like Toronto and Halifax. The answer is, of course, complex, and age – or at least the existence of established neighbourhoods – could play a small role. More important, though, are other factors: are city councillors elected within a ward system, where each councillor represents and is accountable to a particular neighbourhood? How much power does the planning commission have and whose interests do they serve? Which level of government has jurisdiction over social welfare policies such as social housing? What is the provincial tax apparatus in relation to the distribution of wealth? And so on… (During class, I will illustrate this discussion with an example of a municipality that has developed environmentally progressive policies but suffers from a lack of a comprehensive regional planning structure.)

Complementing our discussion of on-the-ground policy and practice are the readings from the textbook, which remind us that debates over policy may reflect debates over theory and method. The rich field of feminist research presents both opportunities and challenges but this too must be approached with a certain eye to political strategizing. After all, internal divisions within the field detract from claiming space (within academia, within any given discipline) and from attending to the research and teaching that drew us as scholars-practitioners to feminist research in the first place. Like measuring ‘successful inclusion’ in cities, though, evaluating the inclusion of feminist work in geography requires a nuanced analysis. In both cases, evaluation of the work -and the work itself- is neither easy, nor is it ever complete.

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3 thoughts on “November 21: “Measuring and evaluating ‘successful’ inclusion”

  1. Hi Tiffany, just wondering where we could find the Building Inclusive Cities readings?

    • Scratch that, just realized you emailed us last week. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Pre-meeting Qs from students for the Nov 21 class meeting

    Overarching questions
    From our readings this week, specifically on Vienna and Inclusive Cities, it is my understanding that gender mainstreaming cities and creating inclusive cities center around the fact that all people experience their city differently because of differing class, ethnicity, age, and other factors but especially gender. Vienna has become a model city for gender mainstreaming by including men and women equally in the decision making and planning processes of the city and its services. These physical and structural changes to urban planning are essential strategies to making cities inclusive and equally accessible to all genders. However, women’s feelings of insecurity and danger in cities, which make cities inaccessible to her, are largely the result of patriarchal societal norms that make violence against women ok. I believe that both elements of urban planning and challenging societal norms must be addressed simultaneously so as to achieve greater social change. So my question is how do you incorporate both? And how do you demonstrate success in changing societal attitudes which perpetuate violence?

    In the Khosla & Dhars and Inclusive Cities website reading, they discuss how neo-liberalism reshapes our urban spatial planning by zoning residential areas based off of wealth and class, therefore displacing poorer neighbourhoods and communities. How has/hasn’t the young city of Vancouver experienced and been affected by this? How does our experience differ from those in older cities such as Toronto or Halifax?

    On Khosla, “Vienna, Austria: A model city for gender mainstreaming”
    In Kholsa’s article we read about gender mainstreaming, the benefits of gender mainstreaming are presented, however are there any disadvantages that can come with gender mainstreaming? It may provide a pluralistic approach, however can addressing women’s safety issues separate from men’s lead to gender inequality?

    In regards to the gender inclusive project we learn about how urban poverty is addressed by supporting and building the capacity of membership-based organizations of the working poor. What projects do we see in Vancouver in regards to supporting individuals who face poverty? Specifically, what is happening in regards to poverty in the downtown eastside? What projects can be implemented?

    After reviewing and reading A Model City for Gender Mainstreaming, I recognized the many things we have learnt this past semester regarding gender. Vienna’s step in regards to gender mainstreaming further illustrates the development a city is taking to ensure safety and daily needs of women. For example lighting in areas that were previously poorly lit, reconstruction of parks and pedestrian friendly designs. Another strong and surprising factor that caught my attention was the inclusion of male figures in the initiatives and objectives Vienna considered to be implemented in their city. I wonder why don’t more countries and cities across the world take into consideration the initiatives Vienna has set forth targeting gender mainstreaming? The organization and important aspects are more than looked upon and provide assistance to both the male and female population.

    On Shaw, “How do we evaluate the safety of women?”
    Last week, with the LOVE group presentation, we quickly discussed issues around funding. Shaw (2012) argues that for many organizations, funding is dependent on them meeting the expectations of donors. How does this pose a problem to the ways in which an organization operates? Why are these expectations problematic? What does Shaw (2012) propose in order to evaluate policies and change?

    On Khosla and Dhar, “Safe access to basic infrastructure”
    This was the first time that I have learned about “the World Social Forums” and about “United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) (p. 118). With regard to the UCLG and “the Global Charter-Agenda for Human Rights to the City”, Khosla and Dhar make it clear that “[i]t remains to be seen how the implementation of the rights framework by local governments can bridge the divided city, especially in terms of the rights of the urban poor to a healthy living environment” (p. 118). Thus, I’d be really interested in learning more about this specific Charter and organization in the future, because right now, in addition to the issues the authors also raise “about […] the rights framework” on page 119, I too am worried that it has the potential to be very one-sided (i.e. representative of just the governments) and not fully inclusive of the individuals who are actually being affected by poverty; essentially, I am worried that this organization may be too hierarchical. It would be great if those of you who know more about the UCLG and the way it functions can share your insights with the rest of us!

    In this research project, entitled Action Research Project on Women’s Rights and Access to Water and Sanitation in Asia Cities, the main problem in the rural area and urban area was access to water and gentrification. What can be done to protect women from being evicted and maintain their right to live in the city with dignity? What water supply system could be used to eliminate water crisis in these area.

    In the text it states; “Globally, urbanization under neo-liberalism has created divided cities, in geographical terms as well as socially, politically, culturally and economically, with greater inequalities between richer and poorer residents. Cities have become polarized, with wealthy neighbourhoods of exclusive and gated communities, shopping malls and entertainment complexes on the one hand, and, on the other, the exclusion by eviction and displacement of poorer residents and their communities to the periphery of the city. Under these conditions, ideals of urban identity, citizenship and belonging become much harder to sustain (Harvey, 2008, p. 32).” When taking this into consideration, do you think that we live in a similar predicament (to a certain extent obviously)?

    On Bauriedl, “Still Gender Trouble…”
    Bauriedl’s essay on the development of German feminist geography within the academy highlights a question that we have addressed throughout the course, namely, how useful is ‘gender’ as an analytical category? On the one hand, feminists have defended gender categories on the basis of political and emancipatory considerations. Yet others have argued that “feminist geography is no longer just an emancipatory project; it is also a project of understanding social and cultural diversity and diverse realities” (Bauriedl, p.137). As Bauriedl points out, there is still resistance to complicating gendered categories in empirical research to date. What are the implications of a) using gender as an analytical category and/or b) deconstructing gendered categories in feminist research?

    Looking at the three strategies Bauriedl discusses as ways that facilitate the establishment of feminisms in geography, how do these intersect and impact one another? Specifically how do the first two impact the third one, which discusses positioning feminist geography within mainstream geography?

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