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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Women’s needs and housing in urban China: the gender impacts of reform and redevelpoment (a case study of Jinhua Street, Guangzhou) Harrison, Averil Judith


This study presents a qualitative impression on the gender related implications of the changing housing environment in urban China. China's housing allocation system is changing from a socialist method of subsidized housing allocation to one of free market sales. Inner city neighbourhoods are also physically changing under extensive neighbourhood redevelopment programs. The findings are based on a case study of a neighbourhood in Guangzhou (Canton), which is currently undergoing urban renewal and housing reforms. Thirty-eight women, representing a wide spectrum of age (22-81), marital status, occupation and housing conditions were interviewed. The thesis examines women's housing needs according to Caroline Moser's classification of practical gender needs and strategic gender needs. Physical changes to housing such as reasonable sized apartments and access to elevators are identified as practical gender needs. The traditional housing allocation system also requires reform in order to address the practical gender needs of convenient home work journeys and access to child care facilities. The first strategic gender need identified is breaking the traditional patrilocal living arrangement. This form of family living arrangement subordinates women to her mother-in-law and husband and limits her role in family decision making. The second strategic interest involves changing the process by which housing is allocated. Traditional patterns of allocation are biased in favour of men and are a barrier to accessibility for single and divorced women. The findings of the study suggest that Chinese women must rely on men to access housing. Young women's choice of spouse and time of marriage is related to housing. Housing options are limited for women who choose not to marry. Divorced women are severely disadvantaged. Women are generally supportive of housing reforms and redevelopment programs but feel that they are unable to address the specific housing problems faced by women.

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