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Urban gendered ‘we’ness of resilience
1  Durham University (UK)


Feminist urban theorists, Peake and Rieker, argue “the urban, now more than ever, is a political stake that opens up and close off new possibilities and constraints” (2013, 12). The vital yet invisible (Escobar, 2012) role of women’s groups who serve as providers of social and economic resilience (Katz, 2004) in ordinary cities warrants consideration. This ‘we’ ness (Simone, 2015) of women’s groups cannot be underestimated because it allows for unexpected yet powerful manoeuvrings through social mobilization. We should not be using the word ‘community’ in relation to urban, rather the emphasis could be on the word “we” or ‘collective’. These two words convey the fluidity of movement that occurs in the city.

I argue urban resilience should also be linked with gendered aspects of the city. Women provide social reproductive services within their communities as well as economic safety nets. Using the rapidly urbanising context of Nepal, an evidence based conceptual space is created to showcase the invisible and vital resilience function of women’s groups in under researched cities. The urban risk governance landscape allows women to be resilient but they are not allowed by the existing governance structures to rework the urban to suit the needs of themselves, their families and their networks.

SDGs number 5 (gender equity) and 11 (sustainable cities and communities) are intertwined and require understanding and debate because they are fundamental to our collective future world. There are opportunities for intervention to foster progressive change and sustainable development by attacking the root causes of structural inequality. Given the current context in Asian cities where the local level is the site where risk governance is increasingly decided, socially just futures can be gained by making visible, listening to and engaging with women more substantively.

Keywords: collective; governance; feminist; gender; justice; futures