The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


PhD student, Nour Gazarin successfully defends thesis on transport and women’s empowerment

16 October 2023

Congratulations to Nour Gazarin who has successfully defended her thesis, ‘Exploring The Relationship Between Transport Accessibility and Women’s Empowerment in Informal Settlements in Cairo'

women in metro

Photo credit: ITDP Africa Transport Journal

Nour Gazarin has successfully defended her thesis that relationships between transport and women’s empowerment can both influence and be influenced by the gendered construction and organisation of individuals, households, urban space and wider society. She explores the relationship between transport accessibility and women’s empowerment through consideration of how travel patterns both influence/are influenced by the social and spatial manifestations of the workings of power, accounting for the social identity of users, their social relations in the household and wider exclusionary social and urban structures.

Nour’s research uses a qualitative case study methodology, focusing on two informal settlements in Cairo. Contextualised in the daily gendered lived realities of informal settlement residents, the link between transport accessibility and empowerment allowed for a consideration of the power dynamics behind travel decision making, and consideration of the wider implications and dynamics of power resulting from the act of travel and transport use - or lack of it.

Challenging the normative assumptions underlying urban travel and the power structures governing urban transport planning, the findings highlight the structural constraints behind observed travel patterns and the gendered constructions which inform social control over women’s mobility, their embodied experiences of travel, the utility of transport systems, access to urban opportunities and their wider engagement and appropriation of the city.

Her findings on woman and men’s usage and experiences of informal transport modes in Cairo fill a knowledge gap about informal transport in Cairo, shedding light on both their significant contribution to meeting women’s travel needs and on the extent of women’s vulnerability when using informal transport due its lack of oversight and accountability. She also highlights the extent to which transport cost, safety and distance of travel contribute to gendered trade-offs, household negotiations and restrictions over women’s use of time, resources, and access to public space in intra-household decision making.

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