Migration, Urbanization and Changing Gender Relations in the South

Authored by: Cecilia Tacoli , Sylvia Chant

The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South

Print publication date:  March  2014
Online publication date:  March  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415818650
eBook ISBN: 9780203387832
Adobe ISBN: 9781136678202


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With more than half the world's population now living in urban centres, interest in the nature and role of rural—urban migration is growing. In many respects, rural migrants are not welcome in the cities: a growing number of national governments in Africa and Asia adopt policies that aim to slow down rural—urban movement (United Nations 2008a), on the assumption that migrants do little but transfer rural poverty to urban contexts. Such views are held despite ample evidence showing that urbanization — that is, the proportion of the total population living in settlements designated as ‘urban’ — reflects transformations in national economies, with growing numbers of people moving away from employment in agriculture and into service and industry sectors (Satterthwaite 2007; UNFPA 2007; World Bank 2009). Such movement is also a physical one: the concentration of employment opportunities in industry and services in urban areas is the root cause of rural-urban migration and urbanization. Moreover, employment in these sectors tends to be deeply gendered, with a high proportion of women in the workforce of export-oriented manufacturing and in domestic service, which helps explain the generally growing numbers of women migrating to cities of the south (Chant and McIlwaine 2009; Tacoli 2012).

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