Recently, I presented a paper in the International Conference on Women Studies and Social Science organized by International Multidisciplinary Research Foundation and Carmel College, Goa. The paper is mainly a photo documentation of my first hand experiences of accessing public space as a solo woman budget traveller and the relationship between gender and public space as observed during these trips. The abstract of my paper is published in the conference proceedings with ISBN 978-93-84124-67-0. I am sharing the text of the abstract here. I would share more photos from my research and also would share a more detailed write up soon.
Gender And Public Space: A photographic research
By Sanjukta Basu
The physical space historically has been a tool of discrimination against women. The patriarchal society has traditionally controlled women’s freedom of movement and denied access to public spaces thereby restricting their access to education, healthcare, social interactions, political participation, economic independence and most importantly women’s right to have fun and entertainment.
While feminist movement over the years have questioned the gender segregation of spaces and challenged the public and private divide, their major demands have mostly been restricted to women’s basic access to public space for education, healthcare and economic independence. Fun or pleasure have not been on top of the feminist agenda. In a recently published work feminist scholars Shilpa Ranade, Sameera Khan and Shilpa Phadke raised the question whether ‘women can also access public space for so called non-productive reasons to have some fun and loiter in the city?’ (Phadke, Khan, Ranade, Why Loiter? Women and Risk on Mumbai Streets, 2011)
My paper explores this question further in the context of adventure travel by solo woman explorer in India on a limited budget. It is not easy for female travelers in India to travel alone without worrying about safety. It is particularly difficult to do so on a limited budget. But how difficult? To find the answer, I have self-initiated an ongoing project called SWBT (Single Woman Budget Travel) where I travel alone on a limited budget using public transportation, budget hotels, local food etc to gain first-hand experience on how women friendly our travel industry and infrastructure is, what do women face when they travel alone, how is the public space in tourist destinations accessed by different gender, can women afford to have fun the same way men do in these destinations? My paper would present my findings through a collection of photographs taken during my journey.
Keywords: Gender, public space, travel, tourism, adventure, solo female, fun, pleasure, loiter