Gender, Planning and Human Rights

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... For example, the design and organization of urban and suburban space entrenches the separation of public and private life, the division of labour and economic dependency of women. The construction of fear in cities (which is tied together with race) operates to constrict the movement of women, and ironically rendering women more susceptible to the greater danger that comes from the domestic sphere (Fenster, 1999; Rakodi, 1996; Beall, 1996). This is true for children and the elderly as well. ...
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The UK has some of the lowest breastfeeding duration rates in the industrialised world. This paper considers women's experiences breastfeeding in public as a factor in breastfeeding duration. Research is based on an analysis of: 11 interviews and a 46-person survey of new mothers in Southampton, Hampshire; 180 postings about breastfeeding in public on UK parenting website mumsnet; and a patent application for a 'portable lactation module'. I analyse these data through an engagement with the work of cultural theorist Sara Ahmed to argue that the 'limits of sociability' in public space in the UK can be marked through affective practice. This paper makes three unique contributions to scholarship. First, it increases understanding regarding an issue of direct importance to health policy by filling a gap in knowledge about women's experiences breastfeeding outside the home in the UK. Second, it contributes to the field of health geography by showing how affective environments can constrain health-promoting behaviours. Third, it extends conceptual work in human geography more broadly through an analysis of the relationships between affect, embodiment and urban subjectivity.
Like other forms of infant feeding, breastfeeding is a fundamental act of care. Yet despite being the recommended way of feeding babies, breastfeeding is not always easy to do. In addition to lack of support, bio-physical problems and the need to return to work; discomfort with breastfeeding in public is a factor shaping infant feeding choice (and the decision to stop breastfeeding specifically). With increased awareness of breast milk's health benefits in recent years, there has been a rise in efforts to make breastfeeding in public more commonplace and socially acceptable (including through lactation advocacy or "lactivism"). This paper considers breastfeeding in public and lactation advocacy in the UK through interviews with lactation activists, non-activist breastfeeding mothers, and participant-observation at two breastfeeding picnics held in 2009. Building on existing scholarship in Geography, I suggest that lactivism can be understood as an effort to expand the boundaries of where care-work is allowed to take place: thus constituting a form of "care-work activism".
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