Women-only space facilitating empowerment

Crawford, Catherine, Miles, Debra, and Plumb, Diane (2011) Women-only space facilitating empowerment. In: Jones, Peter, Miles, Debra, Francis, Abraham, and Rajeev, S.P., (eds.) Eco-social Justice: issues, challenges and ways forward: voices from De Novo '11. Books for Change, Karnataka, India, pp. 110-125.

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Feminist analyses of women's position have identified the gendered dichotomy between public and private spaces and places, where men have occupied the public, valued space and women have been restricted to the 'home' - private spaces where caring and domestic work occur but which are invisible and devalued. The inequities related to women's limited access to certain environments and spaces have been well documented. One of the outcomes of the Women's Movement of the 20th century was to expose these inequities and to create safe spaces for women in more public spheres which included women-only spaces as part of women-centred social services. These spaces (and in many cases the women-centered services that have sanctioned them) are increasingly threatened by gender neutral social policies and fragmented service funding.

This paper will describe the broader significance of women-only spaces as places where women's health and well-being can be holistically addressed. It is argued that women-only spaces provide opportunities for women to escape cycles of poverty and disadvantage. They are also places which can foster and enhance women's empowerment and activism. The paper draws on the experiences of an Australian organisation, North Queensland Combined Women's Services Inc. (The Women's Centre) which operates in a hostile sociopolitical climate where bureaucrats are hesitant to name a specific commitment to women in case this is interpreted as a lack of commitment to men. 'Sameness' has replaced concepts of 'equity' and feminist analyses of women's disadvantage are silenced. An exploration of tensions and contradictions experienced by the Women's Centre within an increasingly hostile political, social, environmental and economic climate will contribute to the discussion surrounding the future use of women-only spaces and their contribution to women's development.

Item ID: 20909
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-81-8291-118-5
Keywords: women, feminism, empowerment, women-only space
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This chapter appears in the book "Eco-social Justice: issues, challenges and ways forward: voices from De Novo '11". The information for the book is available from the Related URLs field.

Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2012 22:12
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160702 Counselling, Welfare and Community Services @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920507 Womens Health @ 40%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940199 Community Service (excl. Work) not elsewhere classified @ 60%
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