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Assessing mothers’ use of neighborhood open spaces

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2019
Kurum, Ilgın
Studies in political, economic, social and planning disciplines which examine the relation between concepts of gender and space, emphasize that women who are identified with maternal roles are excluded from public spheres in many ways. In particular, women who are responsible for the care of their young children are disadvantaged in accessing urban areas and facilities, and neighborhoods are of considerable importance in their daily lives. This thesis, questions how mothers living in different neighborhood contexts use open spaces in their near home environments. It aims to examine the differences between place use of mothers in different neighborhood contexts and to find out how the physical aspects of these settings affect their place experiences regarding their needs and demands. Focusing on how different physical attributes affect mothers’ place behavior may help urban designers and policy-makers to understand and create more inclusive neighborhood environments. The thesis starts with a review of the literature on gendered spaces. Next, based on thesis review, two neighborhoods were selected from Ankara, Turkey to answer the question posed by the thesis. The first one is the traditional neighborhood of Kutlu Neighborhood in Mamak District and the other one is Yapracık TOKİ residences in Etimesgut District, which is a mass housing satellite neighborhood. With regards to the findings of the literature survey, semi-structured in-depth interview questions were designed and mothers living in selected neighborhoods were interviewed. The results of this research indicate that various physical environmental factors like land use diversity, climatic comfort, availability of public facilities like breastfeeding and baby care rooms, green space diversity and proximity, sufficiency illumination and seating, acoustic comfort and traffic safety affects mothers’ use of neighborhood open spaces. Besides the physical factors, personal factors like sense of safety and social factors like domestic responsibilities are among the findings of this study. These results can provide input to the design of neighborhood open spaces which is responsive to the needs of women with children.