Starting fieldwork

After months of bureaucracy, signing documents here and there, I can say that I have officially started my research project on Gender and the City. The name of this research is “Towards an inclusive city: the gender perspective in territorial ordering in Medellin, Colombia” and like all research I have some questions.

Gender has been making headlines here in Medellín. Various women organizations made claims that territorial ordering policies -known as Ordenamiento Territorial, which is one of the main instruments of urban planning in Colombia, was gender blind.  The absence of gender in urban planning polices is one of the main reasons why women have little access to urban infrastructure and why they live mainly in inequality. The local government claimed it was not gender blind, that it has been incorporating it in its urban planning policies for some years now.

Well, I want to check this out. What the local government in Medellin understands as gender in urban planning and if it has an impact. I also want to check what the women organizations are doing? How do they promoting gender in urban planning?

I know these questions cover a lot of areas of urban planning. Central to various women’s organizations claims is the issue of insecurity and violence (in public and private sphere). So I got my list of state institutions and women organizations I want to visit to start fieldwork.

I decided to start with the housing institution. I confess I felt a bit lost. I’m not from Medellin (or Colombia for that matter). I know what I want, but who do I speak to for the information I need? I went, inquired and was asked to write a letter. I’ll get a reply in 15 days telling me about the information I need. I left thinking, ‘There must be another way to get access, to meet someone’. And that’s where I’m at right now…thinking, ‘how do I enter the field?’. I’ve been in similar situations before…I’m sure there is another way in and well it’s just the first day of fieldwork.

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