Global perspective Human stories

Women and girls suffer most from conditions in slums, warns UN official

Women and girls suffer most from conditions in slums, warns UN official

Anna Tibaijuka
Slums pose particular problems for women and girls, especially the way this growing phenomena affects the global effort to combat HIV/AIDS, the head of the United Nations agency charged with promoting socially and environmentally sustainable housing has warned, as she called for greater focus on the challenges of urbanization.

The Executive Director of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), Anna Tibaijuka, told a special session for hundreds of delegates gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for the World Social Forum that this year’s meeting was being held at a crucial time when half of the world’s population will live in urban areas.

“This is a result of natural population growth, human mobility including rural-urban migration and international migration, as well as the reclassification of rural areas as urban areas. It is therefore important to consider the challenges of urbanization as you discuss women and poverty and listen to testimonies of women,” she said on Monday.

“Slums pose serious challenges to action to prevent, treat and effectively address HIV/AIDS. Sadly, it is the women and the girl child who bear the brunt of all this because of their disadvantaged position in society as proscribed by our cultures, traditions, values and belief systems.”

The special session, which was held at the UN-HABITAT headquarters, heard testimonies from women in developing countries on problems of poverty, pain, survival and resistance to the structural causes of poverty and destitution. Mrs. Tibaijuka challenged the participants to appreciate the problem of slums and the hardships that slum dwellers went through.