Fellow 2002-03

Faranak Miraftab

Urban & Regional Planning


Professor Miraftab’s areas of interest include state-society relations for access of low-income populations to shelter and basic urban services. Her research pays special attention to the role of gender and grassroots mobilizations in the context of global socioeconomic transformations. During her Center appointment, she will be working toward publication of her study conducted among racially marginalized communities of Cape Town, South Africa, examining the roles of state decentralization and grassroots women’s mobilizations around issues of housing and basic services.

In her project, Professor Miraftab asks whether state-decentralization strategies now implemented in most countries of the developing world empower grassroots women to influence policies for providing shelter and basic services, and, if so, how that occurs. She examines three questions:

  • How does women’s participation in the formal politics of local government allow them to influence policies that affect their lives?
  • How does state decentralization bring women’s grassroots groups and government closer together to achieve sustainable and inclusive policies for housing and services?
  • Do such processes of participation by grassroots women result in alleviation or further entrenchment of racial barriers?

The study focuses on grassroots women activists and local council members who have engaged with the state in various ways around problems of shelter and services. Their lived experiences are explored through interviews, as are those of city officials and workers at nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) involved with shelter and services.