The critical role of gender in urban development is not only a women's issue

‘My motivation to work with gender lies in the challenges of my personal journey to discuss the critical role of gender in urban planning and development and that it is not only a women issue.’ 

Carolina Lunetta is an Urban Management Expert and member of the Strategic Urban Planning & Policies specialisation team. With seven years of experience in public and private sector projects and urban management, she has conducted workshops on gender responsiveness in planning as well as the development of spatial plans for municipalities.  She recalls her first job as an urban manager for German development agency GIZ:

‘I supported the Ministry of Land of Cambodia and its local planning departments to make spatial plans and planning processes more gender responsive. Although quite challenging, it opened a new path for my career and allowed me to learn gender mainstreaming from practice.’

Within IHS she participates in research and advisory projects, as well as supporting educational activities within the Master specialisation track. Her areas of expertise are urban planning, urban development, gender, and informal land markets. She discusses the importance of expanding the field of urban development to incorporate more gender responsiveness:

‘Since my first days at IHS, I have included gender in my sessions, research projects, and training courses. It has been a challenging journey. Surprisingly, similar to my experience in Cambodia, there has been some resistance to bringing gender to our work. There are still misconceptions about gender studies, especially in relation to urban development and research.’

Her latest research engages with feminist theory, something she finds especially interesting in informing her work and practice. She discusses her progress in promoting gender more at IHS in the elective course Gender in Urban Development, Practice and Research with Bahar Sakizlioglu and Maartje van Eerd: ‘Implementing this course is a huge step toward bringing more visibility to gender studies in the Urban Management and Development master programme.’ Developing this course has helped inform her own PhD proposal discussing women’s empowerment through social housing projects in Brazil.

Recently, Carolina has been researching complex land markets in Uganda and Somaliland in the FCO funded project ‘Spatial Inequalities in Times of Urban Transitions’ and has coordinated a research project on urban expansion in Mozambique.  Gender will continue to play a crucial role in her work and career. 

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