The author highlights key findings of her research on Syrian refugees’ gendered experiences of mobility, security and public space in neighborhoods in the cities of Amman and Beirut. A number of intersecting structural and identity issues have combined to create obstacles to women’s access to public spaces and enjoyment of leisure opportunities, including: societal and cultural norms governing their presence and mobility in public spaces; vulnerability to verbal, sexual and physical harassment; lack of money, which hinders their mobility; perceptions that leisure spaces within refugees’ immediate neighborhoods were neglected and unsafe; and tensions between refugees and host communities. Consequently, many women spent their leisure time in seclusion.
The author argues that people need spaces that are green and accessible, in close proximity to their neighborhoods, well lit and, if required, monitored to ensure petty vandalism and sexual harassment are discouraged. The author recommends that urban planners prioritize those areas of the city that are under intense social change, highly resource compromised and suffering environmental pollution. Spatial mapping—to discover the way in which refugees access various spaces in the city—can help planners and NGOs consider the ways and means by which women use space, how they feel when navigating public spaces and why they avoid certain spaces.