Nelibewa in transition : the spatial impact of the transforming gender roles in rural Sri Lanka

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Herath Mudiyanselage, Vimukthi Kaushalya Herath
Perera, Nihal
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Thesis (M.U.R.P.)
Department of Urban Planning
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Understanding local societies, spaces, and their transformations are important for planning and policy making. The gendered production of space is a crucial component of this. Despite some rich literature, much of gender studies literature view women as victims of other powers and structures, particularly capitalism and patriarchy. This thesis examines the gendered transformation of Nelibewa, a rural village in Sri Lanka. The study reveals that women in Nelibewa use their agency not only to cope up with the patriarchal socio-spatial structures of the village, but also to change them. The study exposes how women employed education, employment in the Middle East, Free Trade Zones (FTZ), regional garment factories, and the needs that emerged during the civil war to make changes that would both improve their living conditions create room for their daily activities and cultural practices. This has not only transformed the village but also dented (if not crippled) the patriarchy. Planners need a radical transformation in the approaches and tools they use to address this context.