Gender and Mumbai’s Development Plan (2014–2034), video interview with Chayanika Shah, queer feminists teacher, researcher, and activist. Filmed for Hamara Shehar Vikas Niyojan, Mumbai.
One of the social objectives of a development plan must be the creation of a city without discrimination and exploitation, and ensure equitable access to all the opportunities that a city offers to different social groups. Women, like other marginalized groups in the city have culturally and historically had poor access to the resources of the city, and specific needs of this half of its population must be given special attention in the Development Plan. Unfortunately, almost no efforts have been made by the MCGM to understand and frame rules that can ensure an equitable, safe and enabling environment for women in the city. We object therefore to the basic approach of this Plan, and expect the following objections to be addressed and suggestions to be incorporated in the Draft Development Plan.
1. Specific social infrastructure and livelihood areas for women must be included in housing developments, and these must become part of the DCRs. Facilities such as child care centres, crèches, play areas for children, common work areas, food services, reading and recreational areas must be incorporated in the development control rules.
2. All social facilities mentioned above created within housing developments for women must be detached from residential blocks and built as separate units adjoining residential level open spaces. In case of extreme land constraints, an entire ground storey must be dedicated for these purposes.
3. In slum settlements, up-gradation guidelines that protect and promote women’s livelihoods must be provided. Guidelines that ensure the creation of common work areas outside the home must be provided.
4. Residential typologies that support live and work must be built into the guidelines for slum up-gradation and rehabilitation. Residential only typologies make it impossible for women to regulate their own work environments. As mentioned above, ground storeys, or detached blocks must be provided in residential neighbourhoods.
5. Guidelines for the creation of social interaction spaces outside the house must be provided in the DCRs for housing. Porches, katthas and courtyards that support childcare and provide common recreational facilities are a must.
6. Typologies that make for unsafe environments for women must be avoided entirely. Residential high rises with poorly designed lift and corridor spaces make it difficult to ensure women’s safety. Low rise walk up apartment typologies with external stairs and corridors must be promoted.
7. Educational facilities for women must be given importance and reservations for hostels for women and girls must be made in the DP. These must be built and run by the MCGM or approprite public authorities.
8. Facilities for women only night shelters must be built around railway stations and transit nodes, built and run by the MCGM to ensure safe resting places for working women. At least one such facility must be provided in every ward, and one near every major transit node.
9. A network of toilets for women must be provided adequately at walking distances everywhere in the city. These must be built along with changing rooms for women, and DCRs must be formulated to ensure that these are suitably indicated and signages directing to them are provided.
10. For street vendors, separate storage rooms and rest rooms must be provided for men and women. These must be at walking distances from every “natural market” in the city.
11. As per the National Urban Livelihood Mission draft, one livelihood centre is to be provided for every 100,000 people. We recommend the creation of one additional livelihood centre for women to provide, promote and facilitate livelihoods for women. These facilities must have common work areas for self-employed women, recruitment possibilities and other support infrastructure.
12. For Koli women street vendors, street markets must be equipped with platforms and seating, common washing and cleaning areas, waste disposal facility and temporary cold storage facilities.
13. For women waste pickers, waste segregation areas must have near them changing rooms and women’s toilets with clear indications.
14. Street design guidelines must include regulations for illumination to ensure all public access areas are well lit at night. Guidelines must specify type and frequency of street lights.
15. Street vending must be promoted in residential only areas to ensure activity at all times providing ‘eyes on the street,’ that ensure safe streets.