[Excerpt] Economic growth and urbanization have transformed the Asia and Pacific region in the past 2 decades, yet poverty still remains a key development challenge. South Asia is home to half of the world’s absolute poor living on less than $2.00 a day, and 35% of South Asians in urban areas currently live in slums and squatter settlements. The urban poor are highly vulnerable due to high unemployment; insecure housing and tenure; inadequate access to water supply, sanitation, electricity, and transport services; and limited education and health care facilities. Poor urban women, especially those in socially excluded groups, suffer disproportionately more in these unhealthy, unsafe environments and have limited opportunities to meaningfully participate in the decision-making process or to engage in productive activities to improve their livelihoods and communities.
This report is the product of a successful subregional workshop on Gender and Urban Poverty in South Asia which brought together a diverse group of people including government officials implementing ADB-funded projects; nongovernment organizations; and development professionals from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka to share their knowledge and experiences in addressing gender and social inclusion issues in urban development projects. It highlights key gender issues in urban development and lessons learned from good practices that are achieving both gender equality results and sustainable urban development outcomes. The report firmly demonstrates the clear links between gender- and socially inclusive urban development programs and partnerships between governments, the private sector, and communities to attain the overall goal of “livable cities.”