feminist manifestos

October 1, 2013

Social and spatial environmental privacy for woman

Key word: Sense of privacy, women’s rights, private and social space, spatial environment for woman.

“One of the most important tasks of women’s movement is to make visible the full meaning of our experiences and to reinterpret and restructure the built environment in those terms.” Weisman critically analysed and identified that women are depriving and oppressing by the society in terms of rights and spatial privacy.

By inspired of her writing, I tend to focusing on the women’s privacy issue in terms of architecture point of view.



Its meaning and value:

Bodily privacy, understood as a right to control access to one’s body, capacities and powers, is one of our most cherished rights. — A right enshrined in law and notions of common morality. The boundary of privacy across cultures and species. Nevertheless there is a near universal need for seclusion or separation at -different times for humans.

Women’s rights are the rights and entitlements claimed for women and girls of many societies worldwide.

In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed. Yet, despite many successes in empowering women, numerous issues still exist in all areas of life, ranging from the cultural, political to the economic.  Gender discrimination affects girls and women throughout their lifetime; and women and girls are often are the ones that suffer the most poverty.

Private and social space:

rural courtyard house



Where women occupied a separate areas of work and influence and are confined to the private sphere of the household-according to early feminist approach. Now a days women are working both at home and outside and take part in social, political movements and decision making processes. Although it is yet to be undetermined what type of benefit, comfort, rights they are getting in terms of private and social environment and space, especially in third world countries where I belong. A woman from her early childhood never receive the comfortable space and environment where she can move on her life in freedom, nevertheless they are approached to social and religious barriers, often discriminated. Women empowerment does not make any change to women life in respect of having social and private space.

In villages of Bangladesh, rural courtyard house pattern is the organic and practical settings where women get a private court space for their daily activities and interactions and where gents are not allowed to enter. Where women from all ages can gather together while performing their daily routine works and so on. This space provides them a privacy and creates a social interacting environment- a comfortable zone. Whereas in urban area architecture does not allow this kind of space for women. Women are migrating from rural area to urban area seeking job and are forced to live in slams where they are not only getting privacy but also subject to inhuman acts. They are losing their sense of private life and also comfort. Migrated women are being deprived of social benefits like private and social interaction space, child care facility which they used to get from their elders or neighbours during working outside and moreover healthy sanitary system is a big issue in slams especially for women.

This issue happened to be not relevant for Sweden, as women get equal rights, position and suitable spatial environment. But in the third world countries like Bangladesh, which is a high risk flood and cyclone prone zone located in the south east Asia -where every year people from rural area have to build their house effected by natural disasters and also migrate to big cities and having these problem discussed earlier.

To protect the poor women’s rights and ensure them good health and spatial environment for the enrichment of living quality should be taken in main consideration.

Samina Sultana Saleh

  • Reference: – Leslie Kanes Weisman, Women’s Environmental Rights: A Manifesto’, Gender Space Architecture: An interdisciplinary Introduction, -London: Routledge, 2000.
  • American philosophical quarterly-volume 40, number-3 July 2003, by Adam D. Moore.
  • Wikipedia.
  • Global Issues, Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues That Affect Us All.

2 Responses to “feminist manifestos”

  1. klaraostlund Says:

    It is a huge global problem that women all over the world feel unsafe in their surroundings. That it is actually dangerous to go outside alone.

    I realize a first step has to be to create safe environments for these people. A place where you can stop worrying about wether or not you are going to be safe, and unharmed in your community. A place with walls and a roof, a shelter and a free zone where you can speak your mind.

    A second step though, has to do with equality. If people where to respect each other, not depending on how they look or which sex or gender you belong to, privacy of this kind would not be an issue.

    As an architect you can support women and others suffering from oppression, when developing your surroundings and infrastructure. And you must try to create a spatial environment that enriches the living quality of ALL people.

  2. gerdholgersson Says:

    The right to privacy is as you say related to gender as well as to class. It’s often described as a basic human right, a care for each and every one’s integrity. But as your example shows this right has seldom belonged to individuals of the lower parts of the society – the poor, women, LGBTQ persons, indigenous groups, children – but has merely been a question for the privileged. Overcrowded slums well exemplifies a violation of the right to privacy. Other examples are sexual abuse, burglary, surveillance of digital communication through internet, interference of authorities into families, media publications regarding one’s sexual preferences, etcetera.

    In some cases though, the right to privacy has been confused with the more vague right to “mind one’s own business”, and has been used not as a protection for the weak but as a weapon in the hands of the strong. When the nuclear family is declared sacred, when secret fellowships closes the doors to their meetings, or when powerful decision-makers doesn’t want to get their doings scrutinized, then the rhetoric of the right to privacy is used to extend the power of the privileged, instead of the opposite. With this said, I believe it’s an important discussion to raise.

    /Gerd Holgersson

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