chapter  9
14 Pages

Gender- based violence and assets in just cities: triggers and transformation

ByCATHY MCILWAINE

Introduction Gender-based violence (GBV) and specifically violence against women and girls (VAWG) is not only one of the main obstacles to achieving gender equity everywhere in the world, but also is now recognised as being a particular challenge facing women in urban areas. Although the relationship between urbanisation and GBV is contradictory, there is a general consensus that women experience heightened levels of insecurity and conflict in cities (McIlwaine 2013; Moser and McIlwaine 2014; Shaw et al. 2013). Such violence and associated fear severely limit women’s right and ability to move freely around the city, as well as their capacity to engage in key economic, social, and political activities. Although the root causes of GBV relate to deep-seated patriarchal forces, there is also a host of specifically urban-specific constraints that act as important triggers in the perpetration of VAWG. This chapter explores the relationships between these forces and wider gender transformations from an asset-framework perspective. In exploring the utility of such an approach, the discussion identifies the nature of these urban-based triggers that exacerbate GBV, but also how assets can be mobilised to reduce GBV in cities. It makes the distinction between accumulating first-, second-, and third-generation assets (see Moser, Chapter 1) as ways of addressing GBV and the gender inequalities underlying it in the short and long term. In effect, this means building and accumulating assets that improve women’s lives in a practical sense, as well as those which address strategic empowerment through ensuring their equal rights to the city as well as their ability to live economically sustainable lives. As gender transformations evolve, there is some potential for challenging the deep-seated gender inequalities that underpin GBV, as well as the urban-specific catalysts.