Feminism has been one of the significant social movements of the twentieth century. It has had a vast and far-reaching impact on society at large, changing its very fabric and creating new identities for women. The women’s movement has affected both activism and scholarship in several fields in India such as health, literature, law, art, theatre and human development. Feminist theory has much to contribute to theoretical developments in disciplines connected with the built environment.1 The disciplines connected with the built environment (interior design, landscape design, architecture, urban design and planning) have, however, lagged far behind in developing feminist analytical frameworks or theoretical perspectives in the Indian context. In the West such research began to appear in the late 1970s and early 1980s.2 These were largely written by women and had an overtly political feminist angle. Until recently much of this work remained internal to the discipline, concerned largely with the architectural profession and issues dealing with the ‘man-made’ environment. Since the 1990s onwards, however, the research has become much more interdisciplinary drawing on other fields to bear on architectural studies.3 Thus, in the twenty first century, in Europe and the USA, the relationship of gender and the built environment is increasingly being built into the conceptual frameworks in related professions and the academia as seen through study reports, courses and conferences.4 In the Indian subcontinent, the lacuna in this area needs to be bridged within the cultural constructions of our society. Feminist criticism and consciousness have a profound role to play in the design and use of the built environments, as the reader will see in the various essays of this volume.

The built environment is a cultural artefact and architecture is the physical expression of culture in my view. As a product of culture, space is not innate but is the setting of life and its various rituals and activities. Space is a concept that is used often in popular and academic parlance today. Its definition varies in different disciplines such as psychology, music, geography and anthropology. In gender studies also, space has its own interpretations. Niranjana, who has studied the relationship of gender, space and the female body in a South Indian village, for example, calls it “that which is open, or lacking solidity, immediately evoking a strong association with emptiness.”5 Persis Ginwala, in her chapter on the Dalit women in Gujarat, defines women’s space as a voluntarily created ‘enclosure’ for support, relaxation, freedom and self-expression. Giving the example of wells and lakes, she says, “The creation of spaces, does not necessarily, or even usually, refer to actual creation. Rather, it is the use to which location and structures provided by patriarchy are put that constitutes the creation of a space.”6 In the context of the built environment, however, the meaning is physical and literal or, at times, it is emotional space that is mentally inhabited. Women’s exclusion from and confinement to certain spaces are control mechanisms that are viewed as a mode of domination.

Social, political, and economic forces and values shape the built environment and its form. Spatial arrangements of buildings reflect and reinforce existing gender, race and class relations because space is socially constructed and the appropriation of space is a political act. At various levels, from the city to the neighbourhood and from institutions to the dwelling, the ideals and reality about the relationship between men and women is expressed in the built form. The patterns of behaviour within private and public spaces are culturally learned and accepted as a way of life. Cultural rules that are often internalised govern the use of space and codes regulate behaviour between genders. Access to space is fundamentally related to status and power. Though caste, community, class, region, ethnicity and other variables affect spatial interactions, women form the primary focus of this discourse. As compared to the Western situation, women in India are affected by “…different historical context, colonial legacy, different socio-cultural heritage and other complexities of caste, religion and ethnic problems….”7 Since built environment is closely interlinked with culture, the social complexities and symbolic construct manifested in physical spaces will also vary, which is what we need to understand. Unfortunately, the prevailing built environment education, by and large, does not reflect the reality of practice, nor does it generate empirical studies, especially in the context of gender. As a result, even today feminist thought is being mostly ignored in professional and academic discourses in the country.8

Extreme forms of violence such, as dowry deaths, domestic abuses and foeticide are visible forms of discrimination towards women. In addition there are invisible, often subtle forms of conditioning, imbalances and inequalities as a whole in society. They moderate the relationship and connection between gender and the built environment. “In order to control women’s sexuality, production and reproduction, men need to control women’s mobility. The imposition of parda, restrictions on leaving the domestic space, a strict separation of private and public, limits on interaction between the sexes, and so on, all control women’s mobility and freedom in ways that are unique to them - that is, they are gender-specific, because men are not subjected to the same constraints.”9 Patriarchal values are reflected in built spaces constructed in the society. These range from the historic and clear division of zenana/mardana spaces in domestic architecture to the ambiguous denial of public space to women at tea and paan shops in modern cities.

There are two broad and crucial issues to be dealt with: looking at women as creators and women as consumers of the built environment. Women as designers of the built environment face a tough situation. In the past two decades, there has been a sharp increase in the number of girls joining built environment related educational programmes in India. But when it comes to active participation in the professions, there is a drastic drop in the numbers. So the key question really is, “Where do the qualified women professionals/designers disappear? Why do they lack visibility in the practice and in academics?” This is in contrast to other areas of the design field such as fashion, graphics and textile design where women have increasingly become a part of the mainstream. Without gender sensitivity, the built landscape is commonly accepted as a neutral background even though; it is not value free and is loaded with symbolism. Most men and women designers, in addition, strongly believe in the neutrality of the profession and the self, choosing to describe and view themselves as gender neutral, the women preferring to call themselves ‘architects’ and not ‘women’ architects. This fact makes us take the situation for granted, adding to the marginalisation of the subject and its solutions. 

As users, women face direct and indirect restrictions in use of the built environment in terms of availability and access to space. Though space may be physically available and may not have distinct barriers for women, it still is not socially or psychologically available to them. Most public plazas, squares and streets fall into this category because a majority of women freely use them only while carrying out a specific task (shopping/eating) or as a part of a ritual procession (Ganapati/Rathyatra) or as streetwalkers. At other times, however, women are specifically excluded, for example, from places of worship, such as in the mosque where women are not allowed to pray in most Islamic communities10 or the Hindu temple that is generally out of bounds for ‘impure’ women. In rural houses almost all over India, the cooking space is a dingy, dark corner where smoky fires cause pollution and affect the health of the women, while the men do not have to face this as they spend their time in the front or outside of the home. The essays in this volume predominantly deal with women as consumers or users of the built environment. During the last few decades, “the role of Indian women has undergone dramatic and drastic changes from era to era, while within the eras themselves there have existed simultaneous contradictions. Furthermore, it has varied from caste to caste and with the various socio-cultural and economic strata of society. It is as panoramic as Indian history.”11 In face of the diversity in the profile of women in India, while resorting to some generalizations, this volume takes a very limited canvas, that of the Indian urban middle class, and has to be viewed within those constraints. 

The broad aim of the “Gender and the Built Environment” symposium was to explore the gender perspective in the built environment with a focus on India and South Asia. The symposium brought together scholars working independently in India from various disciplines (architecture, planning, interior design, home science, sociology, art, literature, urban development and women’s studies) for a dialogue so that some directions could emerge for further inquiries and a network could be created. The objectives of the symposium were to create awareness in general, to explore theoretical perspectives, to locate design applicability and to make suggestions towards policy making. The event generated a discourse on the following issues: domesticity and home, women and construction, gender and the city, housing environments and the role of women, the practice and education of architecture and gender, ergonomics as well as urban planning. Though efforts were made to invite participation from all countries of South Asia, Pakistan was unfortunately not represented. But we do have essays on Sri Lanka and Nepal.

The Changing Role of Women in India

As Indian society underwent tremendous economic, technological, socio-cultural, and political transformations in the post-Independence era, new work ethics, technology and lifestyles were introduced. It became a period of transition for women. Higher education for girls became more wide spread, at least in the urban areas. However, women preferred to study literature, home science, social work, the arts and languages. Though women began to join the professions in 1920s (as exceptions), till the fifties, only a handful took up sciences. By 1970s women began to join medicine, engineering, journalism, media and management in large numbers. They participated in politics and the administrative services. A significant number of women were also employed in jobs such as teaching, nursing and secretarial work. Women’s study centres got established in the 1970s. These profound changes during the twentieth century altered the old ways of life that defined women and men’s roles in society. There were new structural and institutional patterns generated by modernization. Family structure, household organizations, and lifestyles were gradually modified. Thus, the identity of Indian women underwent dramatic and drastic changes in the past century. The forces that created the modifications included reduction in the number of children, acceptance of women’s employment outside of home, predominance of nuclear families and less significant role of kinship and caste. Women experienced an inner urge for freedom, self-expression, and self-development. Further education fuelled a desire in women for being in the mainstream and gaining recognition. Nevertheless, then and even now, women are primarily considered caretakers of children and managers of household activities/resources. Workingwomen have to take care of house, employment and children simultaneously. 

The post-Independence period saw the women’s movement in India rapidly growing and going in several directions with women themselves demanding equal status and political rights, which found expression through various women’s organizations.12 It should be pointed out here that I use the term ‘women’s movement’ for lack of a better phrase. I realize that what has happened in India is much different from the feminist movement in the West in the 1960s and 1970s where its scale was much larger, public and homogeneous and its manifestation more collectively visible. In contrast, through several smaller and regionalized events, women in India have dealt with a number of issues to improve their social status. There has been a silent growth in awareness of women’s rights in the country. “The Indian women’s movement in the last quarter of the twentieth century made choices to resolve various crises of identity, ideology, the politics of governance and the rule of law, society and culture, power and responsibility”13 Towards the turn of the twenty-first century one can perceive a gradual development of feminist consciousness in society. However, feminism has not reached mainstream discourses, thus not touching the core of the population in a substantial way or bringing about far reaching changes in the traditional orientation and attitudes towards women.

In spite of a vibrant women’s movement, design professionals do not clearly see its relationship to their lives. While conducting research on women architects in India I was quite surprised to find that a vast majority of the respondents do not perceive any impact of the women’s movement on their lives. They fail to realize that their status, personal identities and opportunities are much different than their mother’s and, of course, their grandmother’s which would not have been possible without the efforts of the earlier generations of women. This is why they have shown slowness in accepting the changes and rising up to the challenge in terms of modifications in the design criteria and processes. This may also be a result of the emphasis on the ‘creative individual genius’ in design education, particularly in architectural courses. But it cannot be denied that women have gradually begun to move out of hitherto allocated spaces and assumed new roles that are challenging theories of space and the built environment. 

Women and Space in Indian Society

The socialisation process in early years in life shapes the self-image of the girl child, affecting all aspects of her character as she grows up, especially her identity and contribution in the public domain. In Indian society, girls internalise space use and behaviour including posture, dressing and speech as they grow up and are taught the norms of feminine modesty. Their desire for social approval does not allow them to question these norms. Space for a girl child is fluid till puberty after which there is a turning point that brings about a change in the attitude towards her. This is not only in terms of the social perceptions of her body but also her physical movements. The fact that women are inferior beings is taught to them from childhood. In the rural areas, for example, if there is only one charpai, the man of the house sits on it while the women always sit of the floor. In the same way, if there are a limited number of chairs in an urban setting, men are ‘naturally’ given preference.

Family and marriage dominate the life of a girl from the time of her birth. Within the house itself, there is hardly any sense of belonging for the girl child. She is generally treated as “paraya dhan (somebody else’s property, held in trust). This implies that the daughter has no real psychological space in her father’s home that she is a social transient.” and “The parents rarely allow a girl to feel that she belongs to them. The dominant refrain is: ‘you are always in somebody else’s space. There is no space that you can call your own. The only way to gain acceptance is through conformity, sacrifice and obedience.”14Marriage, on the other hand, uproots her, physically displacing her in a completely different social, psychological and physical environment.15 She is, often, an outsider in her in-laws home, finding no space of her own, at least for many long years. “The dilemma that faces a woman in terms of relatedness is between her status as a transient occupying a position of trust at her parents’ place and of being an outsider at her in-laws’ place. Her social locations may be rooted in the system, but her psychological location remains nebulous….This dilemma makes it difficult for them to find an emotional anchor in the permitted, legitimised role relationships…Their sense of location is thus very fragile.”16 Thus a woman has no sense of owning space in her natal home or in her new home after marriage.

In the Indian society, a woman is firmly ‘placed’ in the house and home accommodates the male/female dichotomy symbolically and spatially. Patriarchy is strongly manifested in the institution of the family. In a typical Indian situation, a girl belongs to the father till marriage, and then to the husband. As a result, a woman's connection to her house is defined in terms of her relationship to a male person, especially in a marriage. “The wife learns her ‘natural’ place by learning the place of things. She is ‘domesticated’ by internalising the very spatial order that confines her. Having been ‘trained’ as an inspector of the house who can read its signs, the girl ironically becomes a woman…”17 In addition, property and inheritance laws are male oriented. House ownership for a woman is rare due to economic and legal reasons, as there is difficulty in gaining access to housing. At the moment, Indian women do not enjoy independent domicile status that has been strongly recommended by the National Commission of Women.18 The man as the head of the household takes decisions regarding the location, size, cost and improvements in a house. He has the economic resources as well as its predominant control. This is clearly shown by Girija Shrestha in her essay based on in-depth research titled, “Whose Space? Gender and Changing Housing Design in Nepal”. She points out the direct relationship between the decision-making process during design/construction/maintenance of a house and women’s level of comfort and satisfaction. She also stresses on respecting the perception of women in spaces used by them. The essay demonstrates the need for attitudinal change towards design of domestic space.

Public Space

In all cultures, there exists a demarcation between men's territory (public) and women's territory (private). Though this has been the predominant theoretical position, it needs to be delineated further. There is a danger is making a clear-cut distinction as such because there are many grey areas in between. I believe that the boundaries are rather porous; they shift and dissolve at times. The meaning of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ keeps changing in response to the situation, circumstances and context. According to Niranjana, “There are continuous shifts and transformations in how these spaces are characterized, since they acquire and shed meaning according to context…Rather, the boundaries of these spaces are constantly being specified and re-specified, contextually and in practice.”19 Besides, the definition of public and private varies from culture to culture. However, for most men, the boundaries are very distinct in their minds: for them the outside is associated with work and earning while the inside is for pleasure, family and relaxation. On the other hand, women are judged by the upkeep of their homes even if they participate and excel in the outer realm. The spatial dichotomy of these two realms is defined through the social superiority of men and inferiority of women and is maintained through the territorial dominance of the men. The dichotomy between public and private spaces and restrictions on women differ in each community, being mostly dependent on the self-image, income level of the family and the ethnicity of the community. 

The historic core of the medieval cities of India such as Jodhpur, Ahmedabad, Ujjain and Banaras, are still inhabited. These traditional inner cities were originally based on the social division of the well-defined, cohesive communities/castes, a fact that may still be partially valid. I believe that women feel more comfortable in this urban landscape due to its human scale, the pedestrian distances, familiarity of the surroundings and social support network that comes through collective living.20 This can be seen in Aparna’s essay titled, “Pakka Ghat in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh: Spatial Expression of Gender Identity in a Public Place” that describes the near exclusiveness of an urban space in a medieval structure meant specifically for women users. In spite of this being strictly in the public realm, women feel very comfortable in the street leading to the ghat and also in the well-articulated ghat on the water front meant for Hindu ritual bathing and worship. In Islamic cultures, on the other hand, the dominant emphasis is on domestic privacy and seclusion as well as on clear segregation of women. In my study of the traditional Bohra settlements of Gujarat, I found that this was indirectly reflected in the lack of open spaces and squares in neighbourhoods. The streets were mostly used by women (and men) for circulation and not as an extension of the houses and domestic activities, which was a major contrast to Hindu traditional settlements of the region.21

By contrast, the modern Indian cities (or new parts of the old cities) are based on Western notions of planning, supposedly bringing in a new era of order, diminished boundaries and freedom of movement. The urban scene is full of huge malls, wide roads and tall buildings. Vehicular and public scales dominate its spatial experience, giving us the impression that women are able to move about and interact at will and also participate in the public sphere but reality is quite different as there are psychological and physical restrictions that limit this freedom. It is my hypothesis that because of the overwhelming domination of the modernist principles (that are being followed by many architects/planners even today) with emphasise on universality, geometry and negation of the role of culture, it may have had reverse impact. Besides, there are many other conditions that hamper women’s full participation in the urban space.

The typical woman in India bears almost the entire burden of nurturing and housekeeping whether she is working in the public domain or not. Though work/home distances are not necessarily as extreme as in the West, workingwomen still have to travel a lot to reach the government offices or commercial areas. As more and more women become wage earners, they combine two distant spheres (living and working), shouldering a heavy burden. From the villages to the cities, the priority of giving a vehicle to the boys/men exists, whether it is a bicycle, a scooter or a car. Women often have to depend on the public transport, a fact that limits their field of opportunity; shrinks their employment prospects and causes them to spend more time and energy in commuting. In the modern world, mobility signifies individual autonomy and access to information as well as opportunity. Not being able to circulate freely, women do not fully enjoy economic, social, and cultural life in the city. In addition, because a girl’s spatial range is kept limited while growing up, she has anxiety about travelling alone to a new place or to explore an unknown area of her city. Thus, the physical structure of a city reflects and reinforces inequalities in the social structure, not being equally accessible to both genders. Shilpa Phadke, in her extensive essay titled, “Re-mapping the Public: Gendered Spaces in Mumbai” demonstrates this in the commercial capital of India and one of the safest cities of   its size through the questions of morality, safety and urban culture. In general, a majority of women tend to lead a more localized existence. For the typical housewife, the radius of movement is limited. The immediate neighbourhood is her primary social space as an area of communication and interaction. Her outings outside the neighbourhood are related to socially sanctioned events like marriages, funerals or religious occasions such as pujas,22 but rarely for pleasure. 

Since a woman is predominantly responsible for looking after children as well as old people in the family, the spare time available to her is very limited. Even when time is available, most women, due to their social conditioning, do not feel that they have the right to enjoy leisure or to justify the expense of transportation for recreation, without accomplishing a specific task. For example, Hindu women mostly feel comfortable going alone or in a group to the neighbourhood temple or for collective prayers/Bhajans. The spiritual intent here gives them a legitimate reason that can be partly used for socialization in the form of exchanging news and gossip. Isabel Vas, in her essay titled, “Constructing the Self in Outer Spaces: Leisure, Art and Spaces for Women” looks at women in the city of Panjim, Goa and says that homes, parks and gardens are still gender-blind. She discusses in detail the inequality among men and women in terms of access to leisure (time and place) and shows how art can be a mentally liberating space. There is also the important question of the visual as well as physical safety of women. Social norms and increase in crime rates create insecurity and fear in women and restrict their mobility. They have to be always on the alert in the public areas to protect her visual and physical boundaries. Their privacy and the sense of self are invaded by aggressive and vulgar male behaviour. Through these interactions with male strangers in public spaces, women are robbed of their privilege of urban life, namely their anonymity. Thus, since they perceive the public space as unmanageable and threatening, they restrict their mobility within it or avoid it altogether.23

The near total absence of public toilets for women in all Indian cities (and villages) is a blot on our vision of the civilized democratic society. The common sight of men urinating in streets and open spaces is a blatant example of them appropriating space without any second thoughts! Shilpa argues that the lack of or inadequacy of public toilets is more than a mere inconvenience for women; it is a denial of their public policy rights. In most cases there is an absence of settings that make women psychologically comfortable. By and large, women only feel comfortable in public places doing activities that give them a justification for being there, such as shopping and buying vegetables and groceries. Gradually they realize that public streets and parks as well as important institutions such as banks, offices and the stock exchange belong to men in an indirect manner. Even at the community level, men who have much more spare time, collectively dominate the open areas through playing cricket or other “chat” points and ‘hang-out’ places such as the paan shops, tea shops or street corners. Men also form the dominant user group for using social infrastructure such as a library, art gallery or a clubs. In the rural areas, the central open space is the men’s gathering domain where all the social and political decisions are taken in which women are not generally allowed to participate. The use of the purdah by Muslim women or the veil by Hindu women is an example of how religious and cultural rules deny the public space to her, making her socially invisible. One can argue that the streets and public spaces are freely available to streetwalkers. But I feel that this is so because the women are there to serve the desires of men. The term streetwalker, however, has negative implications for women in the society. Shilpa says that the idea of waiting in a public place is linked to the idea of being a ‘public’ woman and illustrates the acute sense of vulnerability experienced by women while waiting and trying to guard their ‘respectability’.

“Women’s lives are profoundly affected by the design and use of public spaces and buildings, transportation systems, neighbourhoods, and housing…[But] women are perceived as having very little to do with public space. In public buildings and spaces both physical and cultural barriers exclude women with children.”24 Design elements such as footpaths, zebra crossings, street furniture and specially created parks for children should become a part of the physical plans. Features such as good lighting and safe access in cities, both during day and night, should be rethought while taking into account women's points of view, as they remain vulnerable targets. Urban spaces specifically allocated for growing children are woefully lacking in our country. We need to integrate services such as crèches, childcare centres, convenient shopping and community kitchens to provide facilities for workingwomen.25 In short, we need to improve investment in public transport systems, better lighting on streets and parks, and children-friendly urban design features in public areas. These considerations should become a part of the criteria of designing, going beyond the neutral category of ‘population’. 

Private Space 

“…Women by virtue of belonging to a domestic domain centring around childbearing, rearing, cooking and other maintenance work are excluded from the public domain, usually seen as involving political and economical activities”26 The domestic area remains the prime space for the woman of the house, creating an intimate and predictable world for her. At times, this could become a constricting environment but mostly it is not perceived as such. The woman of the house maintains it and is largely confined to it. It gives her social status, she strongly identifies with it and it almost becomes a symbol of self for her since she is responsible for the image of the ‘ideal home’. This is clearly manifested in case of a divorce where, in a majority of cases, the woman has to move out of the marital home, making the experience extremely traumatic for her psychologically and physically due to the loss of a shelter. 

As mentioned earlier, the spatial division of public and private is not static and the boundary between male and female cannot be clearly drawn: It is the result of complex settlements and negotiations; it may vary during day/night as well as during different seasons. This is also true in the private spaces that men and women use whether it is in villages or in the city. For instance, if we take the late afternoon scenario, women could be lingering with children or housework, in the semi-open space in the front of the house while men sit and chat (for hours at times) at the entrance of the settlement or the cluster. However, in the event that men return to socialize in the front space of the house, women tend to retreat to the inside of the dwelling. In an urban apartment too, the main hall is automatically given to the men in case of a gathering while women tend to socialize in the dining room or even the kitchen.

The shift of the boundaries is well illustrated in my study of the traditional urban houses of the Islamic community of the Bohras of Gujarat. The dwellings has a linear and hierarchical spatial configuration, going from public to private, where it is invisibly divided into two parts: the front portion being semi‑public in nature for men and the back part, more private with controlled access to outsiders (non‑family members) for women. The spaces are multifunctional compared to the specifically labelled ones in contemporary houses/apartments. The central courtyard, important from the gender viewpoint, forms the imaginary divide between the two zones. The courtyard allows women maximum freedom of movement within the house, with little need for external windows while eliminating the possibility of their being viewed by outsiders. It also provides good ventilation to the interiors where women spend most of their time. For formal occasions, male guests are entertained in the main hall located on the upper or top floor, directly accessible through the stairs placed in the front portion of the house so that the privacy of the women is protected.27 In the Hindu settlements in the same towns, one finds more use of the semi open otlas at the front which are occupied by men in the mornings (to read the paper) and the evenings (to socialize) while the women use the same space in the afternoons to either do household work or to chitchat. Manu Goel, in her essay titled, “Spatial Segregation in House Form: Analysing Dwellings of Rohaikhand Region, Uttar Pradesh” reiterates the same findings. The courtyard in these houses is also central to the lives of the women as it is the spatial setting for many social and religious events and festivals such as a marriage or the holi celebrations, besides many daily chores, since it provides security and privacy within the house.

In contrast, it is an accepted fact that the form of most high-rise apartments and multi-storey buildings isolates the woman in modern housing layouts due to the loss of community living. In the design of an apartment itself, however, one sees the response to the changing role of women in the society. For instance, when Krishna Kakad studied the woman-house relationship in Ahmedabad, she found that the kitchens had better physical and visual accessibility to the master bedroom, children’s room and the family spaces.28 But many kitchens were rather compact and not so comfortable. In my essay, based on preliminary research, titled, “Women and Architecture of the Colonial Bungalow in Gujarat: 1920 to 1970” I have traced how the living-dining separate dissolved after Independence, making the kitchen well-connected to them. The same configuration can be found in the apartments, thus reducing the spatial segregation of the genders considerably.

Still predominantly responsible for bringing up children, a woman is largely bound to the domestic space. She lacks spatial (and psychological) space of her own. The kitchen does belong to her but it is associated with the care and ‘service’ of other family members and is not her private zone. In a society where culinary abilities are highly prized and is one of the criteria for assessing a woman's worth, the significance of the kitchen in giving the woman an identity cannot be undermined. Hospitality is also stressed as a virtue, the responsibility of which lies mainly with the woman of the house. Therefore, the kitchen is a space of hectic activity patterns. It is not a space for rest or relaxation for someone who needs it the most! The reason society has not noticed the absence of a woman’s own private space is that she is not supposed to have her separate identity apart from the husband or the family as a whole. As a woman grows older, her status changes within the family and therefore, her control over space also increase.29 In my essay, I have attempted to show how the private domain of women got gradually more defined towards the end of the 50-year period of study. I also found that the shifting location of the kitchen represented the increasing importance and value of the woman of the house within the family.

From the rural households to the middle class contemporary apartments, most women’s spaces such as the kitchen are relatively small in size and are placed away from the outer world. Mrotzek-Sampat found in her case study of a modern housing development in Ahmedabad that though the service infrastructure was quite good, the kitchen was inadequate as a working space for women. It was situated without contact to other rooms and was almost without daylight.30 Most women never notice these inadequacies as they always put the family’s ‘status’ and values before their own comforts. They also get the least priority in renovation and up gradation compared to the main spaces that are the status symbol of the family. One of my clients refused to concede to the fact that his kitchen badly needed to be revamped even as he went on budgeting money for the renovation of living and dining hall furniture and interior space. Within the prevalent space of the home, women often use marginal space. For example, in a typical ancestral Goan house, the kitchen was at the back of the house along with a series of peripheral service areas such as the well, storerooms and washrooms while men used the large hall and other front spaces.31 At the time of a death or a marriage, gender segregation is a common practice where men sit in the front and women inside. A gender sensitive design will try and provide a well lit and ventilated kitchen that is visually connected to the rest of the house. 

There are other concepts that govern the use of domestic space by women. In traditional patriarchal Hindu society, the concept of purity defines the access of women to different spaces (and the access of others to women), especially during menstruation and after giving birth to a child. The idea of ritual pollution is used in many rural and urban homes, even today, to spatially segregate women (or to confine them to a space) that make them conscious of their gender and of a ‘lower’ status. For example, in my maternal grandmother’s bungalow built in 1930 in Gujarat, there was a special bathroom for giving ritual bath to ‘impure’ menstruating women where hot water would be poured from outside through a hole. As a young girl, I recall, I had watched with fascination and with non-comprehension the shame and embarrassment experienced by my aunts. Numerous bungalows built around that time also had a separate room meant for keeping a woman after childbirth. In the traditional Gond tribal home in Madhya Pradesh 32 or in the traditional Parsi house in South Gujarat, a separate enclosure for menstruating women was built at the back of the main house. My beautician in Ahmedabad, who belongs to the Jain community, says that she and her 15-year daughter both have to follow the spatial segregation rules. They are not allowed to cook, pray, touch others or even the phone!  

In addition, notions of modesty and morality limit a woman’s spatial participation, within the house and outside it too. Access to the semi-open domestic areas is often controlled to protect her visual/physical privacy. By being outside the home or on the streets at the wrong time, a woman runs the risk of being labelled of a ‘loose’ character. As any teen-age girl may have commonly experienced, the father could become very possessive and does not allow her to talk to any boys. At times by sitting on the verandah of the house, she attracts the reprimand of her father.33 Even if a space is available in a home women tend to not appropriate it. It is either kept for guests or the children. My mother-in-law will never use the living room to relax or socialize with other women even in the absence of my father-in-law as if there was a permanent division. This invisible hold of men on space makes it difficult for designers to decipher.

The General Scenario in the Disciplines

From ancient times, knowledge about the science of town planning and architecture, vastu-vidya, was handed down from the sthapati to the apprentice in India. Oral traditions got translated into canonical texts as well as regional guidebooks as centuries went by. However, the act of building remained in the hands of the various craftsmen guilds till the colonial intervention when modern institutions and disciplines replaced the traditional systems. Beginning with draftsman’s courses and leading to engineering colleges, the modern disciplines of interior design, architecture, urban design and planning gradually developed separate identities in the twentieth century. The profession remained the prerogative of men even after India gained Independence in 1947 though from the 1970s onwards an increasing number of girls chose to make a serious career in these fields. However, as discussed earlier, in spite of the constantly growing percentages, even at the turn of the twenty-first century, one can perceive an invisible hold of patriarchal culture on the professions that is seldom challenged by them. In fact, the preface of Architects (Professional Conduct) Regulations (1989) begins thus, “The profession of architecture calls for men of integrity and artistic ability…He has responsibility to his profession, associates and sub-ordinates.”34 This culture is rooted deep in the design and construction industries. The ideas and theories are from an era when men dominated the design professions. Even at present, the clients or developers/contractors (as well as consultants and government officers) are almost always male simply because very few women are in the position of power or hold wealth. This fact makes women uncomfortable with men in professional dealings. It is also the cause for a paternalistic or condescending attitude towards women professionals.

Today there are more than 100 schools of architecture, numerous courses in interior design and about 8 postgraduate programmes in planning in the country. In any discipline, there exists an ideally balanced interdependent triangle connecting practice, research and teaching. In India, however, in the fields connected to the built environment, the predominant focus is on practice, especially in the field of architecture where there is a strong orientation to design. There is no tradition of conducting research and it is not a requirement for faculty promotion. The academic scene suffers from the lack of knowledge-based studies, especially in history and theory courses. Nor are there any empirical studies of education in the country. The situation is extremely critical from the viewpoint of the curricula in the schools/colleges in the country where students have been at a disadvantage as far as substantial contextual reference materials and textbooks are concerned. In addition, a majority of the practitioners are hardly aware of the importance of research or generation of theory within the disciplines. In short, great efforts and support are needed for a systematic, wide‑ranging research that can be useful in the profession and academics. This lack of theoretical development in general makes it difficult to create a research base for gender issues.  


In the discipline of architecture, there is a substantial and worrisome discrepancy between the number of female students (about 50 % and more) and women practicing in the field. (About 11 to 12%)35There are only a handful of successful female architects practising on their own in the country today. Though husband-wife teams have become increasingly common in the past three decades, this arrangement has its own advantages and disadvantages. Women architects typically veer off towards an interior design practice or get mainly residential projects, or even gravitate towards conservation as more acceptable options. Many carve out a place in an alternative/experimental practice or find a career in teaching, research or writing. Some committed architects work with Non-Governmental-Organizations. A number of them go into planning through post graduation and then opt for public sector job security that has a safe daytime work schedule. Many shift to some other area of design such as graphics or fashion after being dissatisfied. After being aware of many of their classmates dropping out of the profession due to various reasons, most women architects consider themselves fortunate to be working in the field even if they do not form a part of the mainstream. Why does this setback exist? The reasons could lie in the poor remuneration and long hours of work, if employed or in being unable to deal with the demands of practice such as site visits, technical know-how and business management. Lack of abilities such as aggressiveness and assertiveness among Indian women may also influence the capacity to develop a successful practice. Maybe it is also the absence of recognition or the difficulties in balancing family with work. 

The star system, dominated by famous male architects, has a tacit control over various professional (and education) institutions. Women’s absence or marginalisation, however unconscious, directly promotes discrimination. It has an impact on teaching and learning, on related research (or the lack of it) and on professional development/involvement/empowerment of women architects. As social perceptions matter in the development of one’s self-image, it is not easy for a woman professional to develop confidence. She is caught in a vicious circle. It is difficult for her to develop confidence or work profile to match that of the male architect. In addition, it has been observed that in an attempt to be “mainstream” most women architects stay away from ‘women’s issues’ for fear of being labelled feminists or not being accepted as a ‘true’ professional. 

The success stories of women architects are yet to be acknowledged as part of history, theory or the contemporary scene. These are viewed as exceptions. There is a definite absence of role models and mentoring of younger girls by women with achievements. The general view among professional men and women is that “if you are good, you will certainly succeed. Nothing else is needed.” For a sensitive designer the challenge is to delve into the lifestyle and other needs of the women and to translate it into the structuring of space. Hiranti Welandawe and Anoli Perera show in their essay titled, “Men, Women and Architecture: Gender Identities and the Appropriation of Space” how one can deal with the requirements of gender segregation in an imaginative manner in contemporary design in Sri Lanka. 

The overall result of this situation is low visibility for women professionals. They rarely find representation in national architectural competition juries, in lecture series, as inauguration guests, on interview panels or on college inspection visits. 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. Out of the total architects registered with the COA, 27% are females. Women form 6.6% of the members in the (governing) Council and 6.25% of the members of All India Board of Architecture and Town Planning Education of All India Council of Technical Education.36 Women architects, therefore, lack the network of contacts that the men have. This, in turn, affects media coverage (print, television, internet), while actually the media could set out to spread messages that will counteract stereotypes and show women in roles reflecting their development and emancipation.

Physical Planning 

In India, physical planning is in the hands of the government that binds it to bureaucratic procedures. The processes have their origins in colonial practices and the exercises are generally limited to macro level Development Plans or Master Plans in most states of the country. A few states such as Gujarat and Maharastra undertake micro level planning.37 The neutrality of the user is taken-for-granted and the element of people’s participation is minimal. There are no finer guidelines in terms of the implementation of the rules. Special groups like old people, children or women do not find any special reference nor are their perceptions sought. In addition, creative interpretations of the byelaws are not encouraged. For example, there is a provision of 5% open space for parks, play grounds, gardens, etc. in the Town Planning Scheme in Gujarat38 but no standards are set as to qualitatively where it should be located or how it could be distributed. Most cities have a few large parks located far apart that become unavailable to women and children if they cannot afford the transport expenses. Gender sensitive planning would allocate smaller neighbourhood gardens. Or there is a prescription for 5% of the land to be set aside for social infrastructure39 but they mostly mean post offices, schools and dispensaries, not crèches or ration shops.40 The location of shopping facilities, banks and other services near neighbourhoods would make them more accessible to the women. For example, Mrotzek-Sampat found that in the housing settlements she studied in Ahmedabad had no flourmill or laundry in the neighbourhood, causing great hardships to women.41 Gender sensitivity needs to address the frequency, routes, the location of bus stand and its design in case of transportation planning. Truly democratic processes are yet to be developed to include genuine people’s participation including women. In addition, there is, unfortunately, no recognition of urban design as a crucial and separate discipline so far as design of Indian cities is concerned. I believe that urban design could take care of the transitional spaces/places for women and children as well as the hard and soft landscape elements required in response to their needs.

Neera Adarkar has established in her shelter related study in Mumbai that there is apathy towards inclusion of women’s needs in the process of planning housing and its infrastructure.42 The lack of awareness of women’s needs and women’s consultation affects design and planning of cities, neighbourhoods and in urban design interventions. For example, there is no recognition of women-headed households and subsequently their different requirements or the fact that many women use their homes as a workspace conducting income generation activities whether it is making papads, rolling bidis, block printing or stitching clothes. These activities need a storage space in the house and often an open space outside the house. Women are affected much more from inadequate services such as water supply and drainage in urban slums as it adds to their daily burden. The town planning practices do not acknowledge women’s unequal positions at home and in the office environment. Nor do they take note of the fact that a large number of women have joined the work force, a fact that has spatial and social implications in physical planning. Women are much more affected by the lack of pedestrian areas and pathways as they have less access to individual vehicles. In a typical city government office, women are employed as clerks and then a few perhaps as IAS officers. There is a conspicuous absence of women professionals in the set-up.43 When it comes to formulating settlement policies or doing physical planning, women are underrepresented and hardly consulted as a user group.44

Interior Design

In the past two to three decades interior and landscape design have made a lot of visible progress in India in terms of being design disciplines in their own right. Women are more active and more accepted in these fields, especially interior design. Since clients find it easier to entrust a woman architect with interior jobs or the design of residences rather than commercial or institutional projects, she gradually begins to ‘fit’ into that niche. It is perceived as a softer profession where the role of technology is minimal and the skills required are soft.45 Since the designer deals with furnishings, décor and style in inner spaces that are rather transient, the discipline seems to fit the stereotype. Perhaps because women are closely associated with the inner world or that traditionally they were considered in charge of ‘decorating’ the home, the acceptance is easier. The field is also closely linked with the rise of the fashion industry and life style cultures that are perceived to be ‘feminine’ and where women are involved in large numbers. 

Women and Construction

In the towns and cities in India, the building construction work force in the formal sector consists of almost all-male workers where skilled work is concerned. Female workers have traditionally remained at the unskilled level and are paid lower wages than men. Lack of training causes this under representation and lower status. There have been efforts to upgrade their skills at different times all over India but the success has been negligible. The reasons are that this move threatens the males who are not cooperative and because women fail to get any on-the-job training to practice the new skills learned by them. An increasing number of women, therefore, commute to construction sites with their young children in toe. Very few contractors provide for childcare or mobile crèches on sites and there have been several accidents where a child accidentally gets drowned in the water tank or gets hurt in that environment. In the informal sector in the urban environment, on the other hand, many women self-teach maintaining or repairing their houses, even doing plasterwork or laying of flooring material. These skills and experience never get developed and integrated in the formal labour system. Krishna Kakad, in her exploratory essay, “Locating Women in the Struggles of Construction Workers: Are their Voices Heard?” analyses in detail the structuring of the construction industry and the exploitation and discrimination faced by the female workers (who some times form 40% of the total labour force) because the gender bias is deep-rooted in the society. In contrast to this gloomy picture, Tanya Mahajan, in her essay titled, “Rebuilding Homes and Livelihoods: SEWA’s Shelter Reconstruction Programme”, describes a successful example of post-earthquake reconstruction where women were collectively involved at conceptual, planning and implementation levels and empowered through the processes adopted by the organization Self Employed Women’s Association.


Most parents in the Indian society perceive the aims of higher education for girls to include finding a most suitable match, being socially supportive to the husband, bringing up children appropriately and perhaps participating in economic activities if needed. But it is not meant predominantly as career/business oriented in a majority of the communities. The decision of working or developing a career is often left blank for the future; in other words, it depends on the attitude of the husband and the in-laws. In the past ten years or so, a preference for ‘professional’ brides has been increasing in the society. In one of the leading national newspapers, the winning man of the ‘dream choice’ contest said, “I would expect my Dream Choice to be endowed with beauty and virtues, professional qualification and generosity, yet be subservient at home and in the relation.” 46 However, it does not mean that the ‘dream’ girl will be allowed to pursue that profession. For instance, Krishna Kakad found in her earlier study that cultural norms continued to keep women domesticated even though it was now possible for women to work outside the house. Women were asked to prioritise family life and their earning capacity was never appreciated or honed. Instead their educational training and grooming was aimed only at making them better homemakers and mothers.47 The professional undergraduate education being five years long, the fresh graduate works for a couple years by which time Indian parents (including highly educated ones) get anxious about her marriage and insist on it, preferring that the alliance be found within their community. After she gets married, her efforts at developing a career face a number of resistances. Often, when the children are young she is encouraged either to stay at home or to take up a job with working hours between 10.00 AM and 5.00 PM. As the years pass by, her confidence and skills as a professional suffers irreversibly. She often gives up intellectual and career aspirations. The Indian woman’s identity is constantly influenced by both tradition and modernity. 

Patriarchal values get developed from childhood through the contents of the curriculum and also in the way the teaching/learning process occurs. Sarvar and Vijay Sherry Chand in their essay titled, “Pedagogy of Vulnerability: Practice in Education and Reconceptualizing Learning Spaces” look at the formal education system in the country. Emphasising feminist values instead, they call for more flexibility in the existing structures and an increased collaboration among students and teachers. They support transforming pedagogies and forging of partnerships among architects, educationists and technology professionals towards redesign of the classroom in twenty first century. There is also the fact that architectural education is a lengthy professional course where most students come from a middle class background. The academics in general do not encourage direct participation with users/clients, which leaves a gap in their training, especially when it comes to focussing on gender and other social aspects. Nor do the studios have design problems of a nature that creates awareness for women’s special needs such as a crèche or a nursery. Neera Adarkar in her essay titled, “Designing a Women’s Special Train: Negotiating Spaces in Architectural Pedagogy” strongly suggests a pedagogical shift in architectural education that makes the students more aware of the gender and class issues as designers. There is a dire need to challenge belief systems that have guided architectural education and practice till now. Ignorance of gender issues in practice gets reflected in design and lack of theoretical development is a direct result of it. 

Most famous architects that students study are male. There are relatively few women in high positions. Heads of the departments are often men, some times even in women’s colleges. This certainly results in a more masculine perspective and a vicious circle that is hard to be broken. Men also traditionally dominate the teaching of core areas such as design or planning studios. Women faculty is more often than not marginalized and perceived as being peripheral. They have not gathered a critical mass so as to make a visible impact. This is compounded by the fact that there is a clear absence of focus on gender and gender related issues in built environment history and in related contemporary publications. The educational scene also suffers from a scarcity of female role models. At the same time, female students seem unaware of potential socio-cultural problems as a result of the relative liberal educational environment. They anticipate no difficulty in combining a professional career with women’s traditional family roles. This generally comes as a shock to the female graduates as they struggle after marriage and motherhood while their male counter parts’ careers go soaring ahead in front of their very eyes. In spite of this, women architects often view this strain as a personal issue/choice or a ‘social problem but not as apart of the larger context. 

The Structure of the Book

The book is broadly divided into four parts. The essays in Part I deal with women in the public realm. Blending theory with realistic case histories and a survey in Panjim, Goa, Isabel Vas stresses on leisure activities that enrich the inner world of women and require liberating physical spaces. She says, “Leisure is space, it is personal space and community space. It must be recognized and respected as such. At the present moment, it is apparent that designing leisure spaces lacks gender sensitivity.” Since Indian women are strongly conditioned by society, they are unaware of the inequality in access to leisure. Decrying the fact that a majority of the women do not seem to have an identity of their own besides what they have constructed as mothers, wives and homemakers, Isabel suggests greater gender sensitivity in design of homes, parks, gardens and other public spaces. Moving from the locale of peaceful Goa to the busy metropolis, Shilpa Phadke looks at the city of Mumbai and its public places/spaces. She defines ‘gendered spaces’ as socially constructed geographical and spatial architectural arrangements that regulate and restrict women’s access. Global cultural practices of consumption are reflected in malls and department stores that approximate a 'new' private space for the middle and upper class woman. Taking a closer look at the Mumbai trains Shilpa decries the recent increase in violence and the resultant culture of fear. She moots for an ‘equal’ citizenship for men and women as an important way for us to negotiate the hierarchies in access to space. In contrast to the contemporary concerns of Isabel and Shilpa, Aparna describes and analyses a women’s medieval ghat in Mirzapur, North India that is still in use. The journey by women starts from the meandering and colourful Pakka Ghat Street that leads to the ghat on the river Ganga. The street itself exemplifies feminisation of built form in, perhaps, an unconscious manner due to the predominant female customers. On the other hand, the ghat is an ornate, well-proportioned and beautifully crafted structure with a central courtyard that gives it a distinct feminine character. Aparna compares it with the men’s ghats on both sides, bringing out the difference in the nature of the physical space. Against the concerns of Shilpa and Isabel regarding public space in the modern city, this ghat can be seen as a positive response or a conscious attempt to create a public place for women, although based on a notion of segregation and position of women in an earlier society.

Part II concentrates on the private spaces within homes. Manu Goel presents a house form that is an integral part of the living tradition of the same region as that of Aparna where the concept of the inside and outside is clearly demarcated. Gender divisions being important in this culture, the spatial organization of the house responds to it specifically. Several thresholds are found from the outside to the inside for a smooth transition. The courtyard, being not only a climatic element forms the in-between space that separates the relative public and private zones within the house, adding a sense of flexibility to the household. Girija Shrestha from Nepal, on the other hand, maps the relationship between technology, economic condition and gender relation in three case studies of squatter communities in Kathmandu Valley. As the modern knowledge system is usually constructed through education, mobility and access to information, women, having denied these in general, lack the confidence to participate in the decision making process of designing and maintaining a home. Through her research she shows that if a woman’s position is strong in the household, her work is valued and her requirements get priority. Girija also explains the impact of the patrilocal marriage and the patrilineal inheritance on the relationship of the woman to the house. My own essay emphasises the point that gender relations are not static and they change over a time period in response to culture, facilitating spatial modifications. This essay is the coming together of my passion for women’s issues and colonial architecture of India. Though there were stylistic and other influences on the evolution of the bungalow form between 1920 and 1950, I found a strong relationship of the regional life style and the changing women’s role on the spatial organization. 

Part III contains essays that touch upon the issues of architectural design, the building construction process and the construction industry and the place of women within. Hiranti Walendawe and Anoli Parerafrom Sri Lanka dissect the design process and demonstrate the centrality of the location of woman/women in it. They say that through demarcating boundaries of inclusion and exclusion, built environment mediates in all aspects of social life. Looking at the design of a home as the most intimate and personal space, the authors describe three different kinds of case studies of contemporary houses designed by Hiranti. From a conventional Muslim family that required clear segregation between male and female areas in the house to more subtle notions of separateness of professional clients, they show how gender identity shaped the spatial layout of the designs. In contrast to the elite clients of Hiranti, Tanya Mahajan shares with us her unique experience and experiment of working with relatively poor women in earthquake-resistant design and construction of houses in Kutch district in Gujarat where she was an architect for SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) in the post-earthquake period in 2001. While providing multi-hazard resistant shelter, the project aimed at generating employment for the community and eliminating the contractor as the middleman. The entire process of house building was carried out as ‘bottom-up’ with the control being in the hands of the local community, especially the women. The completed house was also officially recorded in the woman’s name, thus empowering her in more ways then one. This is an example that should be replicated in the rest of the country. Krishna Kakad analyses one of the most crucial but neglected areas concerning women and the built environment in India. Construction being an important industry in the country, the role of the female construction workers forms an extremely valuable but marginalized area of inquiry and improvement. The industry that employs a large number of women in India, however, has inherent gender biases owing to the perceived nature of work and mainstream notion of it being male-dominated. Women construction workers continue to remain on the margins primarily owing to their being unskilled and having no access to opportunities for skill development. 

Part IV, last but not the least, has two essays that touch upon issues in the process of education. Sarvar and Vijaya Sherry Chand advocate the removal of spatial and pedagogical barriers between students and teachers in the present system of formal education. They view knowledge or learning as a process that is fluid, dynamic and open to multiple perspectives. While searching for feminist mode of learning, they explore new conceptions and redefinitions of classrooms in the twenty-first century that could have virtual learning spaces, promote non-linear learning processes and non-coercive pedagogy. Shifting from the general to the specific, Neera Adarkar refers to the false premise that the professionals as well as the built environment are gender neutral and non-biased. She says that this results in a wide gap between the assumptions of the designers and the social reality of the world. After briefly stating the history of architectural education in India, Neera decries the relative absence of critical social perspectives in the pedagogy adopted by most Schools/Colleges of Architecture. This ultimately results in the lack of gender awareness in students, faculty and design processes. She goes on to propose interventions in architectural classrooms to expose the students to the gendered character of the built spaces. She recommends adding a gender dimension to the design programmes and also suggests specific exercises.

A Final Word… … … … …

Standard processes in design and planning are followed almost without thinking or without consideration for the women’s perspective as discussed above. But when 50% participants of the built environment are women, can they be ignored in design? What can be done? Again, we need to address the two broad areas outlined at the onset of the introduction: women as designers and as users of space. The issue of women as designers need to be looked into in a serious manner by the professional and educational bodies. The existing status quoi is partly due to the small numbers of women in these fields, especially in positions of significance. Women graduates in architecture and town planning are underrepresented at all levels from private employment and self-practise to government jobs. They must be encouraged to join and be active in the professions. A democratic revival should include promoting women's participation in the decision-making aspects at various levels, from users to professionals.48Because decision-making structures are still male dominated and therefore, male-oriented, a major structural shift is required to address these issues at several levels and ultimately evolve guidelines for gender sensitive planning. It is time to integrate gender awareness in the design disciplines in the same vain as, for example, conservation or sustainability aspects in buildings (or the needs of the handicapped) have been incorporated. Additionally, the planning process should consciously involve women’s organizations. Since most designers reflect and adopt the dominant ideology, gender sensitisation and training is needed for policy makers, project managers, designers and government officials. We further need to build up a productive work environment and attempt to avoid gender-based stereotypes in order to change the perceptions of the society as well as the women themselves. Housing agencies such as HUDCO need to incorporate the gender angle in research and application aspects of the housing environments. 

The research in the area of gender and the built environment is in its nascent stage in India and there are not many books/articles dealing with it in South Asian/non-western cultural context. This publication attempts to contribute a perspective on this subject area while going beyond describing or ‘celebrating’ works of women architects, designers and planners.49 The recent years have seen an intellectual trend of encouraging scholarship in Asian context as opposed to Western representation. This is one more effort towards the Asian focus. It is a modest attempt at filling the lacuna mentioned at the very beginning of the introduction. Perhaps, it raises more questions than it answers. But one can see that there is tremendous scope and need for micro-level research and multiple applications for the design of houses and planning of neighbourhoods, settlements and cities. Though the essays look at the existing situation, ideally speaking, we need to strive for more egalitarian structures for the future. Till these changes occur, short and long term innovations at design processes and policy making seem necessary. I do hope that this publication, with all its limitations, will be able to generate a debate and inspire further work.

  • 1. Sandercock L & Forsyth, A (1992) A Gender Agenda: New Directions for Planning Theory, APA Journal, Winter, p.49
  • 2. See, for example, Ardner, S, Anthony, K, Weisman, L, Matrix and Hayden, D. I acknowledge intellectual debt to all these and other publications. In Indian context I am much grateful to the research by Mrotzek-Sampat and Niranjana on whose work I have drawn extensively.
  • 3. Editors’ General Introduction in Rendell, Penner & Border (Ed.s), (2000) Gender, Space and Architecture: An Interdisciplinary Introduction, Routledge, London and New York, p.6
  • 4. For example, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece runs a multidisciplinary undergraduate course on Gender Studies in which the School of Architecture is a participant. (In e-mail conversation with Ms. Sasa Lada, Associate Professor at the School of Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
  • 5. Niranjana, Seemanthini, (2001) Gender and Space: Feminity, Sexualization and the Female Body, Sage Publications, New Delhi, p. 15
  • 6. In Franco, et al, (2000) The Silken Swing: The Cultural Universe of Dalit Women, Stree, Calcutta, p. 98
  • 7. Desai, N and Patel, V, (1985) Indian Women: Change and Challenge in the International Decade: 1975-85, Popular Prakashan, Bombay, p. 7
  • 8. “Architectural discourse is clearly defined more by what it will not say than what it says.” (Wigley, Mark, ‘Untitled: The Housing of Gender’ in Colomina, Biatriz (Ed.), (1992) Sexuality and Space, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, p.329.
  • 9. Bhasin, Kamla, (1993) What is Patriarchy? Kali for Women, New Delhi, P. 9
  • 10. A couple of years ago, a Muslim Women Jamaat was founded in Tamil Nadu by Ms. Sharifa Khanam as an alternative to the standard all-male jamaats. This organization is now demanding a separate mosque for women that can serve as a social place in addition to its religious functions. Reported in The Indian Express, September 27, 2004.
  • 11. Parikh, I and Garg, P, (1989) Indian Women: An Inner Dialogue, Sage Publications, New Delhi, p. 75
  • 12. “While the women’s movement is multi-polar, more affected by differences in political ideology that characterize the political reality of democratic India, women’s’ studies’ institutional base is mostly among people used to a pattern of discipline as professionals. Despite such differences and occasional tensions, the relationship between the two has remained close, continuous and mutually interdependent.” Mazumdar, Vina, ‘Pages from the Diary of a Rolling Stone’, in Women Who Dared, p 42 Menon, Ritu (Ed.), National Book Trust, New Delhi, 2002.
  • 13. Mazumdar, Vina, (2002) Ibid, p.42
  • 14. ]Gender and Space: Femininity, Sexualization and the Female Body
  • 15. In many communities today it is a common tradition to change the first name of the bride after marriage in order for her to assume a completely new identity
  • 16. Parikh, I and Garg, P, (Op. Cit), p.70
  • 17. Wigley, Mark, (Op Cit.), p. 340 
  • 18. Khosa, Aasha in The Indian Express, October 26, 2004.
  • 19. Niranjana, Seemanthini, (Op. Cit.), p. 110
  • 20. This is supported by Rita’s findings. See Mortzek-Sampat, Rita, (1992) Women & Habitat: Study of Housing Environment of Women in Different Housing Typologies, Institute of Planning and Building in Developing Countries, Department of Architecture, Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, Germany, p.79
  • 21. Desai, Madhavi,TraditionalArchitecture:House Form of Bohras in Gujarat,English Edition, Mumbai, forthcoming
  • 22. It is interesting to note that hardly any women are allowed to participate in conducting religious rituals even today.
  • 23. Weisman, Leslie, (1994) Discrimination by Design: A Feminist Critique of the Man-Made Environment, University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, pp. 69-70.
  • 24. Weisman, Leslie,  (2000) ‘Women’s Environmental Rights: A Manifesto’ in Rendell, Penner, Borden (Ed.s) Gender Space Architecture: An Inter disciplinary Introduction, Routledge, London and New York.
  • 25. Single women travellers are becoming increasingly common in India. (The percentage in the USA is already 40%). The hospitality industry is taking note of this fact and the top hotels have begun introducing changes to cater to the security and special requirements of this clientele according to The Telegraph, Calcutta, May 29, 2004.
  • 26. Niranjana, Seemanthini, (Op. Cit), p. 110
  • 27. Desai, Madhavi, (Op. Cit)
  • 28. Kakad, Krishna, (2000), Gender, Culture and Architecture in Ahmedabad and Berlinin Gender, Technology and Development, Vol. 4, No.2, May-Aug, p.209
  • 29. “Manu draws a distinction between the woman as sexual partner and the woman as mother; the latter is accorded a very high status…As a wife she seduces her husband away from his work and his spiritual duties, but as a mothershe is revered.” (Lannoy, Richard, The Speaking Tree: A Study of Indian Culture and Society, Oxford University Press, London: 1971, p. 103)
  • 30. Mrotzek-Sampat, Rita, (Op Cit.), p.81
  • 31. Ifeka, Caroline, (1987) Domestic Space as Ideology in Goa, India, Contributions to Indian Sociology (n. s.) 21, 2, Sage Publications, New Delhi, p.320
  • 32. Mrotzek-Sampat, Rita, (Op Cit.), p. 75
  • 33. Deshmukh, Vinita, in The Indian Express, September 11, 2004
  • 34. __________, Handbook of Professional Documents-2002, Council of Architecture, New Delhi, p. 46
  • 35. Unfortunately there is no study in India and all my efforts to get statistics from the relevant organizations have failed so far. In the UK, however, in July 2003, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) published the results of its research into the dropout rate of women from architectural practice. This is the first research of its kind to have been completed in that country. Carried out by the University of the West of England on behalf of the RIBA, the report found that a combination of factors, including poor employment practice, difficulties in maintaining skills and professional networks during career breaks and paternalistic attitudes, cause women to leave the profession. (RIBA Website) 11% of the total persons involved in the profession of architecture are women according to the web site of the American Institute of Architects.
  • 36. __________, Handbook of Professional Documents-2002, Council of Architecture, New Delhi, p. xxi
  • 37. In conversation with Balachandran, urban planner
  • 38. Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development Act, 1976
  • 39. Ibid
  • 40. In conversation with Ms. Shirley Ballaney, urban planner
  • 41. Mrotzek-Sampat, Rita, Op. Cit., p. 79
  • 42. Adarkar, Neera (1993)‘Infrastructural Amenities for Women in Low Income Households of Bombay’ in Shelter, Women and Development, First and Third World Perspectives, by Hemalata C. Dandekar (Ed.), George Wahr Publishing Company, Michigan
  • 43. In conversation with Ms. Manvita Baradi, urban planner
  • 44. Contrast this with the fact that the British Government set up a Women’s Housing Sub-committee in 1981 to report on the ‘housewife’s’ needs in the design of new government houses. Matrix, p.26
  • 45. In conversation with Ismet Khambatta, urban designer
  • 46. An advertisement for the Bharat Matrimony.com contest in The Indian Express, October 17, 2004
  • 47. Kakad, Krishna, (Op. Cit.) p.208
  • 48. For example, extensive efforts should be made to make electronic technology easily available to women so that they can fully participate in the information revolution
  • 49. In any case, so far, there is only one such publication in India that deals with the South Asian context, that is "Somaya, B and Mehta, U (Ed.s), An Emancipated Place,the HECAR Foundation, Mumbai: 2000