Sylvia Chant

Professor of Development Geography; Director of MSc Urbanisation & Development|

Department of Geography and Environment


Room: STC 5.15|, St Clement's Building, LSE

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. 

In 2011 Sylvia was made a Fellow of the RSA in recognition of her expertise and exploration of gender issues within geographical 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 has just published a 4 volume collection on Gender, Poverty and Development| with Routledge, edited with former PhD student Dr Gwendolyn Beetham.

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. 

  • 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 recent publications:


  • '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

2010International Handbook of Gender and Poverty|

  • (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  


  • '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
  • (with Carolyn Pedwell) 'Women, Gender and the Informal Economy: An assessment of ILO research and suggested ways forward' (International Labour Office: Geneva)


  • (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 




  • '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


  • '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 (

Professor Sylvia Chant gave the keynote address at a conference hosted by the University of Barcelona on 'Childhood in Feminine: Girls|', 2-4 December 2014, in which were a suite of presentations on girls through the ages. Sylvia's presentation concentrated on some of the problematic issues around recent initiatives to incorporate Girls in GAD (Gender and Development), including the Nike Foundation's 'Girl Effect', in which tropes around women and girls as 'victims' and 'agents' resonate with historical interpretations dating as far back as Ancient Greece.

Exemption © Sylvia Chant|

Geography and Environment academic’s photography features at LSE Research Festival Exhibition 2014|

Sylvia Chant, Professor of Development Geography at LSE, had no fewer than three photographs selected for the final exhibition of this year’s LSE Research Festival. A passionate photographer, Sylvia regularly documents the day-to-day lives of the people she meets in the course of her work, in this instance while researching issues surrounding the practice of Female Genital Mutilation in The Gambia. Read more|.

Sylvia Chant, Arroyo, March 2014|

EVENT AUDIO: Feminisation of Poverty, Sexual Violence and the State – the LSE Gender Institute 20th anniversary lecture|

Professor Sylvia Chant (LSE) presents her views on Feminisation of Poverty: Win-Win, Lose-Lose… or Gains at the Margin?, and Professor Inderpal Grewal (Yale) discusses Neoliberal Security and the hyper-visibility of Sexual Violence and the State in this fascinating insight into the major current issues in gender and development studies.


LSE academic's article is one of the year's most popular|

Fixing women or fixing the world? ‘Smart economics’, efficiency approaches, and gender equality in development by Professor Sylvia Chant has been revealed as one of the most read gender articles of 2013 by Taylor and Francis. Co-authored with Caroline Sweetman, the article was originally published in the journal Gender and Development, and is currently free to access following its success.

Read more|.


University of Gothenburg|

New academic link with the University of Gothenburg|

Professor Sylvia Chant has been appointed as Adlerbertska Guest Professor in Sustainable Development at the University of Gothenburg|, Sweden, 2013-2015.  The position will involve yearly visits to Gothenburg to engage in research presentations and exchange with staff and postgraduates specialising in Development Geography.

Professor of Development Geography at LSE, Sylvia Chant is a world-leading expert on urban poverty and gender.

Isatou Touray|

The Politics of Female Genital Mutilation: The Influence of External and Locally-Led Initiatives in The Gambia|

Dr Isatou Touray, Founder and Executive Director of the Gambian NGO GAMCOTRAP, discusses the efforts made in building resistance to female genital mutilation in Gambia, one of the few countries in the world where the practice is still not legally prohibited.

Introduced by Sylvia Chant (watch video introduction|).

Global Sociology|

LSE academic joins Weber and Marx in latest edition of Global Sociology|

The latest edition of the book Global Sociology| by Robin Cohen and Paul Kennedy features LSE’s Sylvia Chant as one of their collection of 'global thinkers|', a list that includes Max Weber and Karl Marx, alongside former LSE academics David Harvey and Anthony Giddens. Professor of Development Geography at LSE, Sylvia features in a new chapter on gender and sexualities.

Sylvia Chant|

Gender and Poverty in the 21st Century |

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

Watch Video|  /  Download Podcast|  /  Information & slides|




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