Within one generation the lives and living conditions of people in Southern Africa have undergone rapid transformation through urbanisation. Gender Research on Urbanisation, Planning, Housing and Everyday Life (GRUPHEL) is a research programme to understand and analyse the role played by gender in relation to processes of urbanisation, planning, housing and everyday life. There is a large body of gender research in Africa but contributions that relate to the GRUPHEL theme are still few. The papers which are contained in this volume use the gender concept to emphasise the social construction of difference as opposed to the biological difference. The GRUPHEL studies have all been situated in the special socio- economic, and political context of Southern Africa in the mid- nineties, and based on empirical material. Many of the papers illustrate how vulnerable groups in the urban areas strive to cope with and challenge changing traditional gender roles in periods of economic decline and social crisis. The papers also illustrate the shortcomings of the state in organising the societies so that the most basic needs are met for all social groups.