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City livin'

Saadia Iqbal's picture

Maybe it's the bright lights and majestic skyscrapers. Or maybe it's theaters and shopping and cafes. Usually, though, it's just the pragmatic search for employment. Whatever the reason, big cities have lured people throughout the ages, and in many cases it really is a siren call...urban life can be tough going.

According to UN Habitat's State of the Urban Youth 2010-2011 report (pdf), young people are especially disillusioned by city life, as they are often marginalized in the "economic, social, cultural and political spheres of their cities." Surveys conducted in 5 cities around the world—Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, Lagos, Kingston and Nairobi—revealed that young people either felt there were not enough policies and programs targeting and involving them, or, that those that did exist were ineffective and out of touch.

Bonface Shaquile Witaba provides another example, writing in the report, "in 2009 Kenya's Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports launched the ‘Kazi Kwa Vijana’ (work for young people) initiative so that young people could be given work in community projects such as water harvesting, repairing boreholes and roads, cleaning informal settlements and planting trees. However, the jobs were temporary and labour intensive, leaving many females at a disadvantage."

In Jamaica, inner-city youth said a major source of exclusion was the stigma attached to the place where they lived. But survey findings also showed that part of the problem is with that youth people are not proactive in engaging with the government.

How are things for youth in the city where you live? Are young people involved in planning and policy?

What are your views on city life in general? Send us your photos about life in your city, along with a few lines about what you like and don’t like about living there.

Photo: Urban comfort in Washington, DC / © Fareeha Yasmin Iqbal