Professor Sylvia Chant

Professor Sylvia Chant

Professor of Development Geography; Director of MSc Urbanisation & Development

Department of Geography and Environment

Room No
STC 4.17a, St Clement's Building, LSE
Office Hours
No office hours this term
Connect with me

About me

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 and Switzerland, and has undertaken consultancies for a wide range of development organisations including UNDP, UN-DESA/UNDAW, ILO, UNICEF, UN-HABITAT, World Bank, ECLA and the Commonwealth Secretariat. She is currently serving as a member of the Expert Advisory Group for UN Women’s Progress of the World’s Women 2018. Families in a Changing World: Public Action for Women’s Rights

In 2011 Sylvia was made a Fellow of the RSA in recognition of her expertise and exploration of gender issues within geographical development. In 2015 she was appointed as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS) on account of being a ‘world-leading figure in international social science, helping to stake out the field of gender and development’.

Alongside an extensive string of journal articles, her major publications include Women in the Third World: Gender Issues in Rural and Urban Areas (with Lynne Brydon) (Elgar, 1989, reprinted 1993), Women and Survival in Mexican Cities (Manchester University Press, 1991), Women of a Lesser Cost: Female Labour, Foreign Exchange and Philippine Development (with Cathy McIlwaine) (Pluto, 1995), Women-headed Households: Diversity and Dynamics in the Developing World (Macmillan, 1997, reprinted 1999), Three Generations, Two Genders, One World (with Cathy McIlwaine) (Zed, 1998), Mainstreaming Men in Gender and Development (with Matthew Gutmann) (Oxfam, 2000), and Gender in Latin America (with Nikki Craske) (Latin America Bureau, 2003). The latter book was published in Spanish as Género en Latinomérica in 2007, by Publicaciones de la Casa Chata, México DF. Other recent titles are Gender, Generation and Poverty: Exploring the 'Feminisation of Poverty' in Africa, Asia and Latin America (Elgar, 2007), and Geographies of Development in the 21st Century (with Cathy McIlwaine) (Elgar, 2009). Published in 2010 is The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty: Concepts, Research, Policy, a volume comprising over 100 chapters from 125 authors across the world edited by Sylvia Chant and published by Elgar. In preparation is Bringing Youth into Development, co-authored with Gareth Jones, Katherine Brickell and Sarah Thomas de Benítez, and to be published by Zed.

Sylvia's latest books include a 4 volume collection on Gender, Poverty and Development (Routledge, 2015), edited with former PhD student Dr Gwendolyn Beetham, and Cities, Slums and Gender in the Global South: Towards a Feminised Urban Future (co-authored with Professor Cathy McIlwaine, QMUL) (Routledge, 2016). 

In 2016, Sylvia was made a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences following a process of peer review for the excellence and impact of her work. The Academy, which exists to promote social science in the United Kingdom for the public benefit, described Professor Chant 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. 

Selected publications


(with Sarah Bradshaw and Brian Linneker) Knowing Gendered Poverty in the Global South: A Protracted Path to Progress? Spazio Filosofico

(with Sarah Bradshaw and Brian Linneker) Gender and Poverty: What We Know, Don't Know, and Need to Know for Agenda 2030, Gender Place and Culture

In preparation

(with Martina Klett-Davies and Jordana Ramalho) Early Adolescent Girls in Urban Slums of the Global South: Exploring the Intersections Between Puberty, Poverty and Gender Inequality

(with Gareth A Jones, Katherine Brickell and Sarah Thomas de Benitez) Bringing Youth into Development, London: Zed

Undergoing editorial screening

(with Sarah Bradshaw and Brian Linneker) Changes and Challenges in Gendered Poverty in Developing Regions: The Feminisation, De-feminisation and Re-feminisation of Poverty in Latin America. Submitted to Feminist Economics


Chant, Sylvia, Klett-Davies, Martina and Ramalho, Jordana (2017) 'Challenges and Potential Solutions for Adolescents in Urban Settings: A Rapid Evidence Review'. Report for Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence Project (London: Overseas Development Institute). 49pp


Series editor: International Handbooks on Gender series, Edward Elgar

(with Cathy McIlwaine) Cities, Slums and Gender in the Global South: Towards a Feminised Urban Future. Routledge

Photos from the book launch: CSG Book launch 1

CSG Book launch 2

‘Women, Girls and World Poverty: Empowerment, Equality or Essentialism?’, International Development Planning Review, 38(1), 1-24.  Selected as ‘Editor’s Choice’ in February 2016.

‘Galvanising Girls for Development? Critiquing the Shift from “Smart” to “Smarter Economics”’, Progress in Development Studies, 16:4


(editor, with Gwendolyn Beetham)  Gender, Poverty, and Development (4 volumes). Routledge


‘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


'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), 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), 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, 145-59

(with Alice Evans) 'Looking for the One(s): Young Love and Urban Poverty in the Gambia', Environment and Urbanisation, 22:2, 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, 19-43

'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, 40:2,184-96


'The "Feminisation of Poverty" and the "feminisation" of Anti-Poverty Programmes: Room for Revision?', Journal of Development Studies, 44:2, 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' (International Labour Office: Geneva)


Gender, Generation and Poverty: Exploring the "feminisation of poverty" in Africa, Asia and Latin America, Edward Elgar: Cheltenham (2007), 448 pp

(in association with Nikki Craske) Género en Latinoamérica CIESAS del Occidente: Guadalajara (Spanish translation by La Casa Chata, México DF of Gender in Latin America, Latin America Bureau/Rutgers University Press, 2003)
Read Reviews 

'Gender, Cities, and the Millennium Development Goals in the Global South'(London: LSE Gender Institute, New Series Working Paper, Issue 21, 2007)


'Re-thinking the "Feminisation of Poverty" in Relation to Aggregate Gender Indices'Journal of Human Development, 7:2 (July), pp.201-20


(with Gareth A. Jones) 'Youth, Gender and Livelihoods in West Africa: Perspectives from Ghana and The Gambia'Children's Geographies. Vol 3, No.2, pp.185-99


'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 (


Gender and Development

Urban poverty

'Feminisation of poverty'


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 

My research

See more research