Urbanisation and urban growth have accelerated in many developing countries in the past few years. While natural population growth has been the major contributor to urbanisation, rural-urban migration continues to be an important factor. The processes of urbanisation and the nature and scale of rural-urban migration have to some extent been shaped by gender roles and relations. While male migration has been the most predominant form of migration, in parts of Latin America female migration is common and has been influenced by decisions in rural households over who should migrate and for what reason. In other parts of the world, particularly South East Asia, the demand for female labour has meant that more women are migrating in search of employment.
Feminist researchers have pointed out that much of the literature on women, gender and urban poverty issues has fallen outside the mainstream. Urban planning has focused, to a large extent, on physical and spatial aspects of urban development. However, there is increasing recognition of the discrimination women face in relation to access to employment, housing, basic services etc., and the need more effort by some governments and international agencies to reduce this.
A gender equality perspective of urban poverty is important because men and women experience and respond to poverty in different ways. Access to income and assets, housing, transport and basic services is influenced by gender-based constraints and opportunities. Gender-blind urban services provision may not meet the needs of women if their priorities are not taken into consideration.