Sylvia Chant237x318Sylvia Chant

Professor of Development Geography; Director of MSc Urbanisation & Development


Fax: [+44] (0)20 7955 7412

Room: STC.417a, St Clement’s Building, LSE

Links: LSE Experts page | Personal page


Sylvia joined the Department of Geography and Environment in 1988 direct from a joint post in Geography and Latin American Studies at the University of Liverpool (1987-1988). A specialist in gender and development (GAD), Professor Chant has carried out research in Mexico, Costa Rica, the Philippines and The Gambia, has held visiting professorships in Spain, Switzerland and Sweden, and has undertaken consultancies and advisory work for a wide range of development organisations including UNDP, UN-DESA/UNDAW, ILO, UNICEF, UN-HABITAT, World Bank, ECLAC and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Currently she is a  member of the Expert Advisory Group for UN Women’s Progress of the World’s Women 2018 which is on the theme of ‘Families in a Changing World: Public Action for Women’s Rights’.

In 2011 Sylvia was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) in recognition of her expertise and exploration of gender issues within geographical development, and in 2015 she was conferred as Fellow of the National Academy of  Academics, Learned Societies and Practitioners in the Social Sciences (FAcSS) as a ‘world-leading figure in international social science helping to stake out the field of gender and development’.

Director of the MSc in Urbanisation and Development, Professor Chant’s teaching focuses on urban poverty and gender, with a strong interest in comparative geographical perspectives.

Current Research: On the basis of a seed-fund grant from LSE’s Department of Geograhy and Environment, Sylvia Chant is collaborating in 2016 with Drs Sarah Bradshaw and Brian Linneker, on new work on measuring and accounting for gendered poverty. The initial research will involve an audit of the disparate measures being used to map female poverty, and is likely to lead to a major grant funding bid to explore how the analysis of gendered poverty can be better finessed and standardised in the post-2015 development agenda, with particular reference to intra-household dynamics.

Research Areas

  • Gender and Development
  • Urban poverty
  • ‘Feminisation of poverty’
  • Migration
  • Female employment
  • Household livelihood strategies
  • Housing and urban services
  • Lone parenthood and female-headed households
  • Men and masculinities
  • Youth, in particular relation to education and employment, and sexualities



Selected publications:

Forthcoming major book projects


  • ‘Addressing World Poverty Through Women and Girls: A Feminised Solution?’, Sight and Life, Vol.30, No.2, pp.58-62.
  • (with Cathy McIlwaine) Cities, Slums and Gender in the Global South: Towards a Feminised Urban Future (London: Routledge)
  • ‘Galvanising Girls for Development? Critiquing the Shift from “Smart” to “Smarter Economics”‘, Progress in Development Studies, Vol.16, No. 4., pp. 314-328
  • Von Feminisierten Zu Feministischen Städten? Gender, Frauen und Urbanisierung im 21. Jahrhundert’ (‘From “Feminised” to “Feminist” Cities? Gender, Women and Urbanisation in the 21st Century’), Frauen Solidarität, Vol. 137, No.3, pp.7-9
  • ‘Women, Girls, and World Poverty: Equality, Empowerment or Essentialism?’, International Development Planning Review, 38:1, pp. 1-2. *Selected as ‘Editor’s Choice as an influential paper’ in February 2016.



  • ‘Exploring the “Feminisation of Poverty” in Relation to Women’s Work and Home-Based Enterprise in Slums of the Global South.’ International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship. 6:3, 296-316


  • ‘Cities through a “gender lens”: a golden “urban age” for women in the global South?’ Environment and Urbanization, 25:1, 9-29
  • (with Cathy McIlwaine) ‘Gendered Urban Prosperity and Women’s Empowerment in 21st Century Cities’, La Camera Blu (rivista del Dottorato Interpolo di Studi di Genere presso il Dipartimento di Teorie e Metodi delle Scienze Umane e Sociali dell’Università Federico II di Napoli), No.7. pp.87-115


  • ‘The Disappearing of ‘Smart Economics’? The World Development Report 2012 on Gender Equality: Some Concerns About the Preparatory Process and the Prospects for Paradigm Change’, Global Social Policy, 12:2, pp.198-218
  • (with Caroline Sweetman) ‘Fixing Women or Fixing the World? ‘Smart Economics’, Efficiency Approaches and Gender Equality in Development’, Gender and Development, 20:3, pp.517-29. *One of 25 most read articles on Gender in Routledge journals, 2013


  • The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty: Concepts, Research, Policy (editor), Elgar: Cheltenham.

Read interview with Dr Nicola Jones, ODI, on her five favourite books on gender equality.

  • (with Katherine Brickell) ‘The Unbearable Heaviness of Being: Reflections on Female Altruism in Cambodia, Philippines, The Gambia and Costa Rica’, Progress in Development Studies, 10:2, pp.145-59
  • (with Alice Evans) ‘Looking for the One(s): Young Love and Urban Poverty in the Gambia’, Environment and Urbanisation, 22:2, pp.353-69


  • (with Cathy McIlwaine) Geographies of Development in the 21st Century: An Introduction to the Global South, Edward Elgar: Cheltenham. 384pp
  • ‘The ‘Feminisation of Poverty’ in Costa Rica: To What Extent a Conundrum?’, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 28:1, pp.19-43
  • (with Gareth A. Jones) ‘Globalising Initiatives for Gender Equality and Poverty Reduction: Exploring “failure” with reference to education and work among urban youth in The Gambia and Ghana’ (with Gareth A. Jones), Geoforum, pp.40:2,184-96


  • ‘The “Feminisation of Poverty” and the “Feminisation” of Anti-Poverty Programmes: Room for Revision?’, Journal of Development Studies, 44:2, pp.165-97
  • ‘Beyond Incomes: A New Take on the “Feminisation of Poverty’, Poverty in Focus, 13 (Online Newsletter of UNDP International Poverty Centre)
  • (with Carolyn Pedwell) ‘Women, Gender and the Informal Economy: An assessment of ILO research and suggested ways forward’ (Geneva: International Labour Office)





  • Dangerous Equations? How Female-headed Households Became the Poorest of the Poor: Causes, consequences and cautions’, IDS Bulletin, 35:4, Special Issue ‘Repositioning Feminisms in Development’, pp.19-26


  • (in association with Nikki Craske) Gender in Latin America, Latin America Bureau: London/Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, New Jersey, 308pp Read Reviews
  • ‘Families on the Verge of Breakdown? Views on Contemporary Trends in Family Life in Guanacaste, Costa Rica’. In Cecilia Menjívar (ed.) Through the Eyes of Women: Gender, social networks, family and structural change in Latin America and the Caribbean De Sitter Publications: Ontario, pp.109-48
  • ‘New Contributions to the Analysis of Poverty: Methodological and conceptual challenges to understanding poverty from a gender perspective’. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), Unidad Mujer y Desarrollo, Serie No.47, Santiago de Chile, 66pp (



Sylvia Chant was conferred membership of the Academy of Social Sciences in October 2015 on account being a ‘world-leading figure in international social science, helping to stake out the field of gender and development’

Sylvia Chant submitted 3 photographs on the informal economy for the LSE Research Festival 2015 and won the ‘popular prize’ for her entry ‘All Day, Every Day’

Sylvia Chant, together with Cathy McIlwaine, were lead consultants for UN-HABITAT’s State of Women in Cities 2012/13

Sylvia Chant was featured as a Global Thinker on Gender and Poverty in Robin and Cohen and Paul Kennedy (eds) Global Sociology, 3rd edition (Palgrave Macmillan: Houndmills, Basingstoke, 2013)

Sylvia speech 13Sylvia Chant addressed an audience of 2,000 in Wassu, Gambia’s Central River Region in April 2013 to celebrate the 4th ‘dropping of the knife’ by 36 former female circumcisors, and also provided photographic coverage of the event.

Sylvia Chant, along with Social Policy professor, Tony Barnett, gave expert evidence at a UK High Court Country Guidance case on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in The Gambia in November 2012 which won the right for girls vulnerable to the risk of FGM to remain in the UK. Read the full report and Upper Tribunal Judgement.

Sylvia Chant_62x81VIDEO: Gender and Poverty in the 21st Century

Panel discussion with Professor Diane Elson, Professor Nancy Folbre, Professor Maxine Molyneux, to mark the release of The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty, edited by Professor Sylvia Chant

Watch Video  /  Download Podcast  /  Information & slides


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