News / Africa

Urbanization Grows Worldwide

World Urban Forum, Naples 2012World Urban Forum, Naples 2012
x
World Urban Forum, Naples 2012
World Urban Forum, Naples 2012
Joe DeCapua
The World Urban Forum (9/1-7) gets underway Saturday in Naples, Italy to address the growing trend toward urbanization. About 3-thousand participants from 114 countries are expected to attend the conference. This year’s theme is The Urban Future.



The 6th World Urban Forum will address social, economic and environmental issues. These include quality of life, equity and prosperity, job creation and energy and transportation.

“The World Urban Forum is a U.N. event held every two years, primarily organized by U.N. Habitat. And it’s really a space for people to come together and have a dialogue about urbanization. [It’s] possibly less of a political space, and more of a debate and dialogue space dominated by U.N. agencies, academics and particularly city-level government officials,” said Ramona Vijeyarasa of the anti- poverty organization ActionAid International.

Vijeyarasa, ActionAid’s Senior Women’s Rights Program Manager, is attending the forum.

“We’re actually at a point now where more than half the world’s population lives in cities or urban spaces. And what’s even more interesting is that the pace of urban poverty reduction has been slower than rural poverty reduction. So for us, we’re seeing a real urbanization of poverty. And I think even within the development sector, we’re not talking enough about urban poverty. And yet it’s the issue that’s affecting more of the world’s population than any other, in my view, at the moment,” she said.

Urbanization, she said, has two sides. It can bring marginalization, violence and sub-standard housing for the poor, while at the same time offering opportunities to grow and advance.

ActionAid will take part in a presentation at the World Urban Forum on the insecurity women face in cities. Vijeyarasa said this includes unlit, insecure spaces, police departments that are insensitive to women’s issues and higher levels of crime.

“Really, we’re often talking about migrant women in these areas, as well. So even more isolation and even less access to services and ways of reporting crime and violence,” she said.

She added that better urban planning can address some of these issues.

“Certainly, ideally, we would be looking at cities that are new and emerging. So a lot of the peri-urban or rural communities that are increasingly urbanizing present a really good opportunity to design the city in a gender-sensitive way. But as you know, a lot of the cities that we’re talking about, for example the work we’re doing in Kenya or Ethiopia, are already established cities. So we’re working to try and fix the problem.”

However, Vijeyarasa said there are plenty of solutions available. But she says people must first be aware of the problems before they can solve them.

She said, “I think gender really isn’t necessarily on the table. Urban planning is a very male-dominated sector. And I even expect that the World Urban Forum is a particularly male-dominated space. So the first thing is to get gender on the agenda and to seek accountability from stakeholders, who are responsible for urbanization, urban planning and safety and security. There are all sorts of mechanisms that have been tested in some places: an increased number of female police, training of police forces generally, even training of transport workers have been tried in countries like India.”

She said ActionAid research in Ghana, South Africa and India shows that young women – ages 19 to 24 – are especially vulnerable to sexual and economic exploitation, and face a lack of health and reproductive services.

On the positive side, urban areas offer greater educational opportunities for women and girls, bigger markets for the goods they produce, and a chance to network with other women to form political or lobbying groups.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More