Session 48

K2 Feminist Participatory Methods for Gender-Inclusive Urban Planning and Design

Within critical urban planning and design theories, participation, dialogue and collaboration are increasingly recognized as powerful tools of empowerment, which can be used by key stakeholders in the city to identify and articulate their interests, negotiate change with others and transform urban organizational life and their role within it (Beall, 1996). However, evolving and operationalizing participatory research methodologies to achieve greater gender equity largely remains under researched and often fail to bring gender-inclusive transformational changes on ground. Feminist participatory methods sharing same epistemological grounds as ‘traditional’ research methods depart from an analysis point of view on gender relations. It revolves around the core values of co-determination, reflexivity and positionality (Caretta and Riaño, 2016). In other words, it strives to address the hierarchical power relations between men and women, recognizing both gender inequality in the everyday lives; and also the gendered nature of the participatory research process itself (Beetham and Demetriades, 2007). Employing feminist participatory methods in gender-inclusive urban planning and design process assist in moving beyond tokenistic approach by systematically integrating perspectives, concerns and experiences of women in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of urban policies, programs and projects (Terraza et al., 2020). While acknowledging the importance of creating more democratic space of knowledge production, researchers also point towards inevitable ‘tensions and messiness’ that arise during feminist participatory projects. These challenges could result from several interconnected issues ranging from traditional understandings of the role of women and men in the society to the inability of urban policy makers in understanding the larger benefit of feminist participatory methods reaching a broader spectrum of other marginalized groups as well (Ortiz Escalante and Gutiérrez Valdivia, 2015). In light of the above discussion, this session invites abstracts from multidisciplinary researchers and urban practitioners that focuses on advancing research methods on feminist participatory strategies to empower women, girls, sexual and gender minorities in all stages of urban planning and design processes. Potential contributions may address following key questions (but not limited to): (1) how do urban researchers and practitioners enact counter-power to ensure gender equity throughout urban planning process? (2) How to create socially and ethically responsive inclusionary spaces to co-produce knowledge with women, girls or sexual and gender minorities? (3) How to address intersectionality (such as race, ethnicity, class, caste, sexuality, age, physical ability, educational status) through methods into all levels of urban development process? (4) How to adapt quantitative methods to take into consideration ‘hard to measure’ aspects or sensitive items such as gender-based violence into urban planning and design process?; and (5) How to sustain long-term partnership with women and other sexual and gender minorities throughout urban planning process? Overall, with this session we intend to dive deeper into uncovering the methodological challenges and possible solutions for gender-inclusive urban planning and design within both Global North and Global South contexts.