Accessing Urban Public Space for a Livelihood: India, Thailand and Philippines in Comparative Perspective

  • Gisèle YasmeenEmail author


Gisèle Yasmeen undertakes a high-level comparative analysis of cultural and legal issues surrounding women’s access to urban public space in South versus Southeast Asia. Comparing and contrasting India, Thailand and the Philippines where she has had direct experience, she highlights the diverse legal traditions and cultural issues surrounding and dictating women’s access to market places. Having a federal legal framework with a modified Westminster tradition, India is the home of recent, progressive statutes concerning access to public space for livelihoods such as street vending. The Philippines absorbs American, Spanish and local influences, whilst Thailand combines civil law with a tradition of authoritarian rule in the context of ostensibly being a constitutional democracy. Yasmeen evaluates the prevailing patterns of women’s access to public space for their livelihoods—specifically as street vendors—in all three countries against a backdrop of historical and contemporary legal and cultural influences. Whereas Southeast Asian women, particularly in Thailand and the Philippines have ‘culturally sanctioned’ access to public space as both micro entrepreneurs and consumers, Indian women, especially in the north compared to the south, traditionally do not. This has led to a different path towards access to public space, including legal challenges and grass-roots mobilisation initiatives such as the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI). Additionally, India has developed approaches leading devolution of power through legislation such as India’s Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) scheme. Meanwhile, Yasmeen explains, the Philippines exhibits examples of political and economic strategies including creation of the Cebu City United Vendors Association (CCUVA) and the registration of Filipino vendors with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


Legal Framework Public Space Street Vendor Parliamentary Democracy National Capital Territory 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Asian ResearchUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing)ManchesterUK

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