In 2018, 55 percent of the world’s population lived in urban settings, and a UN report projects that by 2030, Delhi will overtake Tokyo as the largest city. In the New York-Newark metro area, above, the population of 18.8 million in 2018 is projected to hit 19.9 million by 2030. Paradoxically, areas of intense population growth may present more opportunities for women but not necessarily for their security.
Improving the lives of women is woven into each of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, markers that all 193 member states aim to reach by 2030. Goal 5 is quite specific: nothing short of gender equality. Attaining this lofty goal means being able to put one’s hands on data that have been broken down, or disaggregated, to create a clear picture of how much progress has been made toward equality. When the data is aggregated, development experts are hobbled, and that means lost opportunities to focus on enhancing the lives of women.
A case in point: “The World’s Cities in 2018,” a data booklet that updates the UN’s first look at urbanization and its implications for sustainable development. The new report uses broad strokes to depict an image of urbanization. But, due to limited access to disaggregated gender data, it doesn’t reveal how or even whether the status of women dovetails with a trend that will have enormous implications for sustainability and economic development in the decades to come.
Not surprisingly, many cities are growing dramatically, sweeping in outlying areas and large influxes of new residents. Tokyo, Delhi and Shanghai top the list, with 25 million-plus residents each in 2018 and projected populations of 32 million to 39 million in 2030. São Paulo, Mexico City and Cairo are not far behind.
Smaller cities are gobbling up the countryside as well. “In 2018, 1.7 billion people — 23 percent of the world’s population — lived in a city with at least 1 million inhabitants,” the report says, referring to magnets like Addis Ababa, Mombasa and Nairobi. “In 2030, a projected 28 percent of people worldwide will be concentrated in cities with at least 1 million inhabitants.”
Is this good news for women?
The report, which focuses not so much on the state of cities in 2018 as on where people will be living in 2030, illustrates the problem of missing disaggregated data points. Without them, it’s hard to plan for issues that women face in a rapidly urbanizing world. Cities could grow to accommodate the travel patterns of someone who runs many errands, for example, rather than the daily slog of an office commute. Generally, it’s easier to allocate resources with — well, the right data.| https://www.passblue.com/2019/01/13/how-will-women-fare-as-cities-grow-dramatically-the-data-are-missing/