A Woman's World: Creating spaces for joy, leisure, and resistance in South and Southeast Asia by Kontinentalist

Women in South and Southeast Asia continue to face numerous physical, social and economic challenges in accessing public spaces safely. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the pursuit of leisure in public spaces, often considered dangerous and full of risks for women. Our story investigated how feminist and queer organisations across South and Southeast Asian cities have pioneered innovative ways to create spaces for leisure, joy and resistance. Their existence and work challenges preconceived notions about women’s safety, propriety, and gender-based discrimination in urban and rural settings, and our work aims to provide an Asian perspective to the underexplored question of who gets to access the city.

The long-form data story spanned 10 cities and 5 countries. Wesurveyed 168 female and gender non-conforming (GNC) participants, and collaborated with 10 grassroots groups through interviews and focus group discussions. Our data collection partners included a variety of activist and non-profit organisations, such as the Women Walk at Midnight movement in India, female-focused Philippine cycling communities, Indonesian participatory design firm Kota Kita, and community spaces for young women and girls in Karachi, Pakistan. Rather than telling overused narratives of women as victims of oppressive systems, we focused on highlighting the collaborative and empowering ways these groups practise resistance, assert their autonomy, and create communities amidst hostile or negligent environments and in cities.

We combined interviews, focus groups, and surveys with our deep knowledge of multimedia storytelling techniques and web development. We sought to show how women and queer persons across South and Southeast Asia experience and value leisure, and create spaces for joy and creativity online and offline by visualising survey responses such as common recreational activities and spaces. Our story explored and emphasised the importance of female recreation in both private and public settings by weaving survey responses, quotes from multiple interviews, and evocative visuals such as temporal uncertainty plots to show how online spaces and apps play a key role in women’s leisure in cities. Moreover, we focused on visualising our key finding as one all-encompassing illustration of a utopian city. We wanted to show that despite the different urban and societal contexts of the groups we engaged, that their solutions all converge towards a collective dream of more inclusive, accessible cities.

Related Projects
View All Projects