Urbanisation and smart cities

Urbanisation without industrialisation – increasingly prevalent in developing countries – leads to an increasing population concentration, but a lack of growth and job opportunities to drive improvements in living standards. This can lead to the expansion of slums which lack effective infrastructure. Women tend to be affected by these conditions more than men because, for example, they are more likely to suffer from pollution and sanitation-related diseases (given women are likely to spend more time within the area of residence) and tend to have lower levels of access to infrastructure.

Urbanisation also presents a range of opportunities for women’s economic empowerment, such as increased potential for skills development and increased mobility and autonomy. However, men disproportionately move to urban centres, often leaving women in rural, lower-income localities. As a result, women are not capturing the potential benefits of urbanisation at the same rate as men.


Opportunity
medium

Women-focused skills development can be used to drive economic gains through the improved utilisation of the workforce’s spare capacity.

Risk
medium

Urbanisation without industrialisation presents the threat of uncontrolled urban expansion, which tends to have a disproportionate impact on women’s health, security, and access to government services.

Opportunity
medium
Risk
medium

Women-focused skills development could be used to mitigate urbanisation without industrialisation, driving growth through increased utilisation of spare capacity in the labour force.

Female-focused skills development thus presents an opportunity for women’s economic empowerment, which gender-smart investors could foster by:

  • Identifying the overlap between the (future) demand for skills and women’s existing skillsets and potential skillset post-training.
  • If existing education-centric investments lack the capacity or knowledge (e.g. requiring specific linguistic skills) to fill the skill gaps identified, gender-smart investors might consider making new investments in academies, universities and colleges that provide for upskilling.

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Opportunity
medium
Risk
medium

Urbanisation without industrialisation, increasingly prevalent in developing countries, leads to an increasing population concentration, but a lack of growth and job opportunities to drive improvements in living standards.

This could significantly increase pressure on urban education systems, reducing the quality of education received.

As a result, low-cost urban education chains (e.g. CDC’s Investee Bridge) may become an increasingly relevant part of the solution.

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Opportunity
medium
Risk
medium

Urbanisation without industrialisation, increasingly prevalent in developing countries, leads to an increasing population concentration, but a lack of growth and job opportunities to drive improvements in living standards. Expansion of slums, without effective infrastructure, is a frequent consequence. This trend could increase the risk of women, who are likely to spend time within the area of residence, suffering from pollution and sanitation related diseases.

Gender-smart investors can support investees to enhance women’s health outcomes by helping them to develop m-health technologies that – due to their accessibility – offer women short-term self-treatment during resource-constrained situations.

Gender-smart investors can also work with health sector distributors and producers to create supply-side solutions that can be rapidly rolled out in emergency situations (e.g. paramedic networks, drug stockpiles, etc.).

Source: https://www.theigc.org/blog/urbanisation-with-and-without-industrialisation/

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Opportunity
medium
Risk
low

OGS technology is a frequently used source of electricity for peri-urban and slum households, providing women with access to labour-saving devices that reduce time burdens associated with domestic responsibilities. As urbanisation continues, an increasing proportion of OGS users are likely to be in cities.

Gender-smart investors can support their to increase access to OGS in urban areas by:

  • Seeking ways to lower barriers to longer-term savings and credit – often necessary for the purchase of OGS home systems.
  • Improving the level of consumer awareness and trust in financial institutions and OGS (e.g. through advertising campaigns, partnerships with local companies, collaboration with local agent networks, etc.).

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Opportunity
low
Risk
low

Rapid urbanisation brings the potential for large-scale infrastructure investment with a gender lens. See the trend notes in “Advanced Materials” and “Intelligence of Everything” for more information.

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Opportunity
medium
Risk
low

There is a clear opportunity for women to work in the construction sector to meet the demand for city expansion. However, given differential rates of male versus female migration to urban areas, and the existing gender balance in the construction industry, many of these jobs may initially go to men.

See Manufacturing note for examples of how gender-smart investors could help to foster female-focused skills development.

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