Urbanization: A Double-edged Sword For Women


Urbanization is often associated with greater independence and opportunity for women – but also with high risks of violence and constraints on employment, mobility and leadership that reflect deep gender-based inequalities.

These issues – along with climate change, waste, water and other topics — are explored in the April 2013 issue of the IIED journal Environment and Urbanization, published today.

“Urbanization is among the defining features of current times, but it can mean very different things for men and women,” says the journal’s guest editor Cecilia Tacoli of the International Institute for Environment and Development. “Unless policymakers, urban planners and development agencies understand these differences, urbanization will fail to meet its potential to improve the lives of all urban citizens.”

The journal’s editorial highlights the key points from each paper. These include papers on the following topics under this edition’s main theme of ‘Gender and Urban Change’:

    where and when urban women enjoy advantages over their rural counterparts;
    community savings schemes that build women’s leadership and support upgrading;
    how transport planning still fails to respond to women’s travel needs;
    how urban contexts can reduce gender based violence, although often they can increase it;
    how income and ideology influence women’s decision making in rural and urban areas in Nicaragua;
    the changes in women’s participation in labour markets in Dhaka, Bangladesh and the tensions this can generate within households;
    what was learnt from a project working with girls and boys with disabilities in Mumbai, India;
    and, the particular roles of women in seeking to get better services for their low-income/informal neighbourhoods in Bengalaru, India.

This issue also has two papers on climate change:

    a detailed benefit-cost analysis applied to Durban, South Africa;
    the different responses of low-income tenants and squatters to adaptation to climate change in Khulna, Bangladesh;

The subjects of other papers include:

    the limitations in the Indian government’s Basic Services for the Urban Poor Programme;
    the politics of non-payment for water in low-income communities in Manila, the Philippines;
    community-managed reconstruction in Old Fadama (Accra, Ghana) after a fire;
    developing a solid waste collection service in informal settlements in Managua, Nicaragua;
    how well-connected individuals control land allocations and water supply in an informal settlement in Dhaka, Bangladesh;
    and an assessment of provision for water, sanitation and waste collection in two informal settlements in Kumasi, Kenya.