Kenya: Insecurity and indignity: Women’s experiences in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, 2010.
More than half the residents of Nairobi live in informal settlements and slums. Their housing is inadequate and they have little access to clean water, health care and other essential public services. Violence against women is widespread where ineffective policing results in rape and other violence against women going largely unpunished.
This report examines the experiences of women living in four slums in Nairobi. It calls on the Kenyan government to address gender-based violence against women and to ensure women’s access to sanitation and public security services.
In sharp contrast to her questioner, who tip-toes around the delicate subject, Akhi Sultana belts out a full-throated response that is audible to everyone in a room full of strangers.
“Before, when I had my period, I could not change my rags or wash properly,” the 16-year-old says, referring to the strips of old saris that poor Bangladeshi women use to manage menstruation because they cannot afford tampons or sanitary pads. “I always felt shaky and afraid because there was no privacy in the latrines and no water nearby to wash with,” Ms Sultana says. “Now there is a water pump adjacent to the latrine and it is private.”
She lives in the Zakirer slum in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, one of dozens of cramped settlements where a third of the city’s 10m people reside. The pump and latrine she refers to were installed thanks to WaterAid, the charity the Financial Times is supporting this year in its seasonal appeal. But equally significant – in a society where women are often treated as second or third-class citizens – is the way she is talking: forthright, matter-of-fact, unabashed.
Women, slums and urbanisation: examining the causes and consequences.. Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions , 2008 (pdf, ful-text)
This report examines the worldwide phenomenon of urbanisation from the point of view of women’s housing rights. The report focuses, in particular, on the experiences of women and girls living in slum communities throughout the world, premised on the idea that both the causes and consequences of urbanisation for women are, in fact, unique and deeply related to issues of gender. The report highlights women’s experiences from Africa, Asia and the Americas and background information on the global realities of urbanisation, including trends and analysis.
“Government hospitals are very crowded and there is no privacy , no cleanliness. Sometimes, doctors and nurses are not available when we go there. Often , they shout at us. In corporation clinics, medicines are given for three days and we are asked not to come early even if there is a problem. Medicines are very cheap and, therefore, of inferior quality,” says slumdweller Radha. Ahmedabad: Radha is just one of the women dissatisfied with health services provided by hospitals , dispensaries, maternity homes and urban health centres run by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC).
In fact, a study by city-based NGO Foundation for Research in Health Systems (FRHS) in 2006-07 has found that these subsidised health and supplementary nutrition services are under-utilised by vulnerable sections of urban poor – adolescent girls, women and children.
“The survey, sponsored by a private bank, was conducted in two slums, each from East and North Zone, and one slum each from Central, West and South zone. After we made our findings known to AMC, it was supposed to intervene and correct the situation. But, that hasn’t happened so far,” says FRHS executive director Dr Alka Barua.