Urban poverty has a woman’s face
A previous topic focused on the role of women in economic development. However, a number of obstacles prevent women from engaging in paid work, especially in low-income urban areas.
The attached UN-HABITAT report on ‘Gender Equality for Smarter Cities: Challenges and Progress’, former Executive Director of UN-HABITAT Anna Tibaijuka writes: “Research shows that women and girls often suffer the worst effects of slum life, such as poor access to clean water, inadequate sanitation, unemployment, insecurity of tenure and gender-based violence (exacerbated at home by stressful and over-crowded living conditions, and in public areas by poor security and eviction threats).”
This discussion will focus on how our perspective of urban inequality and exclusion can be enhanced by looking at the different experiences of women, children and men.
One of the issues I would like to focus on is the ‘opportunity cost’ facing women living in cities. For example, the same UN-HABITAT report mentioned above states:
“Women and girls are both direct and indirect victims of the lack of basic services in slums. The hours they spend fetching water can lock them out of opportunities for education, employment and training. They are also expected to stay home to care for relatives of all ages made sick by poor-quality water and inadequate sanitation. Early pregnancy and early marriages can also restrict girls’ opportunities later in life. When coupled with the current food and economic crises, urban poverty can encourage women and girls to engage in risky sexual behaviour for economic survival, putting them at heightened risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.”
- What are your experiences regarding the ‘opportunity costs’ facing poor women and men living in cities?
- What are some practical examples of how opportunities for women and girls can be improved in cities?
- What can be learnt from women's associations such as SEWA (see link: http://www.sewa.org/ ) and their work to promote the rights of self-employed women?