Arising out of the debate on industrial restructuring and spatial divisions of labour there is now a growing concern with ‘local social relations’ -describing how and explaining why social relations vary from place to place. Economic class relations have been the focus of most attention. Simultaneously, attempts have been made to explain local politics by reference to specific forms of local social relations. This paper draws together these two debates by discussing the ways in which local gender relations might influence the nature of local politics and shape distinctive local policies. Using the example of women's initiatives in local government I will argue that local politics cannot be understood without reference to gender relations and that gender relations cannot be 'read-off from local economic structures. I will conclude by suggesting that patriarchal gender relations have a number of key dimensions and that the precise form which each dimension takes may vary from place to place. Thus, locally specific combinations will be produced, resulting in what we might call ‘spatial divisions of patriarchy’.