THE FUTURE is urban and Asia is already home to a majority of the world’s megacities. With people migrating from rural to urban areas in pursuit of economic opportunities across the region, this also poses major risks – particularly for women.
The Thomson Reuters Foundation Annual Poll for 2017 looked at the world’s most dangerous megacities for women. Authors of the report consulted with experts on women’s issues regarding the world’s megacities and the level of safety they provide for women in terms of four key areas: sexual violence, access to healthcare, cultural practices and economic opportunities.
Cities in Asia, unfortunately, featured fairly prominently among some of the worst performers.
Overall, the Philippine capital was ranked as the sixth best megacity for women. The metropolis of 13 million was third best when respondents were asked regarding whether women had good access to economic resources such as education, land, and financial services such as bank accounts.
Nevertheless, women in Manila have a relatively high risk of sexual violence compared with London, Lagos, Paris, Tokyo or Shanghai.
Indonesia’s capital Jakarta was ranked the ninth worst megacity in the world for women. The city of 10.5 million was ranked fourth worst in terms of harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and forced marriages.
In terms of access to economic resources, however, Jakarta came in seventh best with women more likely to be able to access education, land and financial services than in Istanbul, Buenos Aires or New York.
The sprawling city of 18 million, Dhaka, was ranked the seventh worst megacity for women. The Bangladeshi capital ranked fourth highest in terms of women’s risk of being a victim of sexual violence or harassment and was also the third most dangerous in terms of harmful cultural practices.
Alongside Sao Paulo in Brazil, the so-called “rape capital” of India, Delhi, was ranked the worst megacity for sexual violence and the harassment of women. Women also have poor economic opportunities in Delhi – ranked fourth worst overall in terms of women’s access to economic resources according to respondents.
Pakistan’s most populous city Karachi was ranked the second most dangerous megacity in the world after Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The home of 17 million people was ranked second worst in terms of women being at risk of female genital mutilation and forced marriage, and third worst in terms of access to healthcare and economic resources.
Tokyo was listed as the safest megacity for women in Asia, and second in the world after London.
Interestingly, Karachi was also listed as the least safe city in the world under the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index 2017, while Tokyo was the world’s safest.