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New grad is finalist in international research competition

May 6, 2010

KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University graduate student who just completed her master's degree is one of 14 finalists among 150 entries worldwide for a research paper competition identifying innovative thinking in urban planning.

Malvika Parmar received the distinction for her paper, "A Case Study of Slum Redevelopment in Jaipur, India: Is Neglecting Women an Option?" in "The Places We Live" international research paper competition. Sponsored by the USAID’s Urban Programs Team, the International Housing Coalition, the World Bank, the Woodrow Wilson Center's Comparative Urban Studies Project and Cities Alliance, the competition asked for policy-based, solutions-oriented papers focused on such topics as cultural diversity and identity in cities, inclusive sustainable urbanization and equal access to shelter.

Worldwide, approximately one billion people currently live in slums--the vast majority of them in developing countries. Their numbers are expected to double by 2030, placing unprecedented pressures on cities around the globe.

Parmar focused on the role of women in community development in slums in developing nations. Fieldwork was conducted in the slums of Jaipur, India, during summer 2009, and it analyzed the urban development program in the city. The paper examined different ways in which women in slums could contribute to better planning and execution of slum redevelopment plans. Parmar proposed that a greater involvement of women is needed at the planning stage and that women should become active participants rather than passive recipients of aid. She presented a paper on the same research at the Annual Meeting of American Association of Geographers held in Washington, D.C., in April.

A native of Jaipur, India, Parmar graduated from WMU May 1 with a master's degree in geography. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Delhi in 2008.

The competition was inspired by "The Places We Live" photographic exhibit by Norwegian photographer Jonas Bendiksen as well as the World Urban Forum V held in March in Rio de Janeiro. The grand prize went to a graduate student at Cornell University. Other finalists hailed from institutions such as Harvard, the University of California and the University of Michigan.

For more information about the project and the link to the research paper, visit http://go.worldbank.org/CYFOLW3ZP0.

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Media contact: Deanne Puca, (269) 387-8400, deanne.puca@wmich.edu

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