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An Urban-Spatial Analysis of the Women in the Informal Sectors of Greater Guwahati City of Assam, India

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Author(s): Zona Bhuyan

Journal: Space and Culture, India
ISSN 2052-8396

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 69;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Urban Informal Sector | Location | Guwahati | Women | Spatial | Occupation

ABSTRACT
This article reflects the use of urban space by women in urban informal sectors in the city of Guwahati located in North East India. The population influx from across the borders in the aftermath of the partition has huge implications both on polity and on economy of the northeastern states in general and Assam in particular.  Importantly, the urban informal sectors have a sizeable share in terms of its significant contributions towards Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as generation of employment opportunities largely. Using a feminist perspective, the research is an attempt to investigate the engagement of women in the informal sector in greater Guwahati. Research findings reveal that the occupations of the women workers are location-specific, that is, the manufacturing sectors (textiles, food preparation, printing and skilled service) are mainly home/shop based production (fixed locations) whereas the service sectors (leisure, caring, elementary construction, elementary sales and cleaning occupation) operate at variable locations (construction sites, street pavements, marketplaces and other various locations). Further analysis shows that the informal sector is highly demand dependent and such demands are in the central business areas of the city, therefore informal sector services (skilled services and elementary services) are found to be located in and around the central areas of Guwahati city. Women operators in the informal sector are attracted to the central business district because of the many advantages that it enjoys relative to other parts of a city. The paper concludes by calling on policy makers and physical planning agencies to evolve more pragmatic strategies for urban development matters in order that urban informal sector activities can be integrated into urban development plans. Finally, further research is called for on how urban planners could redesign the urban space with appropriate consideration of the informal sector operators.
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