Urbanization, Gender and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa
In recent times, manifestations of poverty which are particularly striking have been related to the Urbanization, Feminization and Africanisation of poverty. It is currently estimated that about half of the poor live in the urban areas and this figure is drastically increasing with 90% in Latin America, 45% in Asia and 40% in Africa. Although in statistical terms, Africa presents the lowest rates of urban poverty and urbanization worldwide, however, it is also the region where the pace and scope of urban poverty is the highest. According to the United Nations (2003), 71% of city dwellers in Sub-Saharan Africa are poor. Thus, rapid urbanization is one of the most significant processes affecting Africa and shaping her future. The consequence of this is a radical transformation in the structure of urban centers, accompanied by complex social, economic and environmental changes. Thus, urbanization as a strategy of development, within peripheral capitalist states, generates and accentuates many of the contradictions it was supposed to solve, and women as producers and consumers both in the rural and urban areas have increasingly become victims of these contradictions. Women, become more of the victims of urbanization as their status declines with their diminished productive role in the transition to an urban economy based on wage labour. Women become particularly vulnerable to poverty as gender interacts at every facet of life to create, reproduce and perpetuate female’s poverty, hence the feminization of poverty. Thus, a gender analysis of urban poverty becomes necessary, as this stands to illuminate the processes and dynamics of poverty, and hence, further enrich our understanding of the phenomenon of urbanization and poverty.
Keywords: Urbanization, Gender, Poverty, Sub-Saharan Africa
Dr. Idongesit Eshiet
Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Lagos