Engendering the Urban Social Movement and Public Housing Policy in Brazil

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Charmain LEVY, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Canada
Anne LATENDRESSE, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
This article analyzes the transformations taking place within the Sao Paulo housing movement and explores how these changes challenge the gender neutrality of housing public policy at different levels of the Brazilian state. Based on interviews of social movement leaders, state and civil society feminists and documental research, this paper first considers the political, social and economic context during the 2000s when women leaders in the Sao Paulo urban housing movement worked with feminists from the World Women's March to progressively integrate a gendered analysis of social relations in their understanding of urban housing issues. By characterizing the housing movement as a women's movement, it illustrates how a strategic alliance among this movement, the women's movement, civil society networks and sectors of the PT contributed to the adoption of public policies that take into consideration the specificities of urban women. Through different narratives, it illustrates the empowerment of this movement's female activists and demonstrates why social change concerning gendered public policy came from below and outside of the political system when different social and political actors forming a leftwing network pressured governments to elaborate new gender specific urban housing policies.

Since the Workers' Party (PT) gained power at the federal level in 2003, it created public policy conferences around women's and urban issues where social movements and civil society actors have participated in order to create a greater awareness about gender specific problems, propose public policies to address them and question the absence of gender equity in participative democracy. The "women and city" paradigm was constructed as a result of the new leadership role of women in the housing movement, and their collaboration with other civil society actors such as feminists, NGOs working on urban reform, international cooperation agencies and sectors of the PT.