The Urban Woman


Cities smell of patriarchy, on streets, in buildings, on public squares, everywhere. They have not been designed for women and so often fail to serve them, in every aspect. Have you ever seen a public space where a woman can comfortably breastfeed her child? Have you ever seen a street where a woman can easily pull a pram end to end? Cities are sexist because they were designed with deep roots of patriarchy. Cities are sexist because they were not designed as a neutral space.

Cities, by design, allow space to cars, but not to a women, because cars are considered more valuable.


Men stroll while women walk at Chawri Bazaar, New Delhi © Press Trust of India


Cities, by design, have forbidden women to work and be a mother at the same time. Cities, by design, allow men to be the celebrated bread-earner, every day of their lives. Cities, by design, allow space to cars, but not to a woman, because cars are considered more valuable. Cities, by design, forbid to be a children’s playground, because it is more valuable to be a toy to capitalism.


A billboard in Philadelphia encouraging people to normalize breastfeeding in public places ©Vanessa A. Simmons


An urban woman has to carve out her niche, in every corner she travels, while a man has to just be himself. And, yet the urban women seldom complain, often compromise, and always try to push the boundary, towards a city that allows her to walk with self-esteem. An urban woman is not asking for an immediate action to change the setting of cities, but asking to address it little by little, every day until a day comes when the struggle is no more.


Forum Shah

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