Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

The Role of Women in Generating Data for Environmental Sustainability Discourse - A Water Governance Approach

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

The Role of Women in Generating Data for Environmental Sustainability Discourse - A Water Governance Approach

Article excerpt

Introduction

Urban areas account for 50 per cent of the world's population and an estimated six billion people will be urban dwellers by 2045 as there will be an increase of 1.5 times of the current population (World Bank 2017). It is estimated that 50 per cent of the total world population reside in cities (UN-DESA, 2014). Another estimate indicates that by 2030, as the urban population of developing countries doubles, the land area covered by cities will triple. Such urban expansion is not only wasteful, but also intensifies natural resource consumption as it competes with the ever-increasing population. In fact, over the past two decades, this unsustainable urban expansion has already altered the ecological systems of many cities (Kacyira, 2017). Sub-Saharan Africa will have 762,5 million new urban dwellers by 2050 according to UN-Habitat; a number that amounts to the total current population of Europe (World Urbanisation Prospects, United Nations). Africa has the lowest share of urban population at 41 per cent, but it is the most rapidly urbanising region. Its current urban growth rate is nearly 11 times higher than that of Europe. The region's rapid urbanisation is driven largely by a natural increase in population, rural-urban migration, spatial expansion of urban settlements through the annexation or reclassification of rural areas into urban areas, and in some countries, adverse events such as conflicts and natural disasters, thus city leaders must move quickly to plan for this growth and provide basic services and infrastructure while not jeopardising resource flows (Kacyira, 2017).

It is important to note that for the first time in history, urbanisation has become an integral part of strategic discussions on the sustainability of our planet. Several meetings have been held to support urbanisation and action plans put in place to follow through the various sustainability measures to ensure that our planet is well taken care of. For example, Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development recognised urbanisation as a driving force for development and prosperity with the development of various goals to measure the progress. The New Urban Agenda defined a clear action plan for advancing development through urbanisation. The key question facing policymakers and practitioners interested in urban leadership and management is how to achieve "sound urbanisation," given that urbanisation often outpaces the capacity of governments (Kacyira, 2017). This sound urbanisation must also take note of the sustainable development goals and their fulfilment.

Sustainable development goal five calls for gender equality and access to opportunities. To achieve this, one of the targets is to ensure women's full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life (United Nations, 2016). For this to become clearer and more evident, it demands for inclusivity of women and their representation from the grassroots for it to be reflected at a higher level of management. This then requires that we as scholars make a bold attempt to get their views and opinions about developmental matters which affect them and at what scale. Hence, data needs to be collected from them, in order to have the female narrative elucidated upon especially in cities, so as to improve their quality of life (United Nations, 2016).

For this improved quality of life to be realised, there needs to be adequate data that can sufficiently give coherent outputs. Therefore, information about the urbanisation process and its outcomes is an essential input - perhaps the first vital step - to persuading Africa's decision-makers to support the growth of cities and make them inclusive. Yet the quality of data on urban growth across the continent is surprisingly poor. Even basic statistics on city demographics, economic growth rates and forms of physical expansion are uneven and unreliable (Potts, 2017). …

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