Cities Alliance Launches Strategy to Promote Gender Equality in Cities
[6 March 2015] – Women and men live and use cities in very different ways. Yet, in many cases, urban planning and policies do not take these differences into consideration – leading to exclusion and lost opportunity. In almost all instances, the process of planning and delivery of investments in city development remains neutral at best, but almost always insensitive to women’s needs and roles – impacting women in practical as well as strategic ways.
And women and society are paying the price. Throughout the world, policies, customs and practices divert resources away from women so that they have fewer opportunities and rights. According to the Global Poverty Project, women make up half the world’s population yet represent 70 per cent of the world’s poor – a staggering figure.
Countries are paying the price too, in lost purchasing power, lost taxes and a distorted demand for public services. In 2013, the International Monetary Fund found that some regions were losing up to 27 per cent of GDP per capita as a result of not fully engaging women in the labour force.Study after study has shown that women make a major impact on development by promoting household economic resilience, more equitable decision making and less corruption.
The Cities Alliance believes strongly that women can be sources of positive change in cities, and as a partnership we are committed to helping make that happen.
We have implemented a new Gender Equality Strategy that seeks to embed gender throughout our work programme, and gender equality is one of the key pillars of our Medium-Term Strategy for 2014-2017. As part of this strategy, Cities Alliance members – many of whom have their own gender programmes – have also established a Joint Work Programme to undertake a range of collaborative activities promoting gender equality.
Our vision for gender-inclusive cities
The Cities Alliance Gender Equality Strategy seeks to address and reduce gender inequality in developing cities. We are working towards articulating and deepening clear, simple ways to understand roles, functions and needs through a gender lens so that:
As part of the strategy, gender equality is being embedded throughout our work programme, with a focus on women’s rights and urban governance. We are also updating our screening process to ensure that no opportunities for mainstreaming gender are missed, in both design and execution of programmes with which we are associated.
We plan to compile and disseminate knowledge on gender mainstreaming, including the production of a flagship study on gender equality in sustainable urban development. In addition, we are supporting disaggregated city-level data collection and capacity development to help cities and communities obtain data on gender-related issues so they can make more informed decisions.
The Cities Alliance is also taking steps to promote gender equality within our own organisation. The strategy outlines a path to helping the Secretariat achieve gender parity within five years, through equitable employment practices and a positive organisational culture.
A partnership for action
One of the most effective ways we are implementing the Gender Equality Strategy is through a Joint Work Programme (JWP) that leverages the unique diversity of Cities Alliance members for advocacy, activities, and knowledge development.
The JWP will make sure that sound gender-responsive programming has been incorporated into each of the four Cities Alliance business lines – Country Programmes, Catalytic Fund, Analytic and Strategic Activities, and Communications and Advocacy – so that women and girls may have not only more opportunities to contribute to sustainable urban development, but also secure the right to political representation, economic inclusion and dignified living.
It will also deliver outputs in advocacy, programming tools and diagnostics and knowledge and research products.
So far, the JWP comprises United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), Sida, UN-Habitat, Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), Brazil, United Cities and Local Governments Africa (UCLGA), Chile, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) and SKL International, implementing agency for Sida. DFID is also a supporter.
The JWP has already held one very productive meeting in Brussels in January 2015. Participants finalised the Gender Equality Strategy, and drafted a concept note for how the JWP can frame its activities over the next three years. Members agreed to suggest potential focal themes for the JWP, such as women’s political leadership, livelihood strategies, gender-based violence, gender responsive urban planning, affordable housing strategies for women-headed households, etc.
The next meetings of the JWP are planned for March and May 2015 to finalise the framework document.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Strategy, Policy, and Review Department and Fiscal Affairs Department, 2013. Women, Work, and the Economy: Macroeconomic Gains From Gender Equity.
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OECD/DC 2010. Evidence for Action:Gender equality and economic growth by Chatham House with DFID http://www.oecd.org/dac/gender-development/45568595.pdf
Day, T. McKenna, K. & Bowlus, A. 2005. The Economic Costs of Violence Against Women: An Evaluation of the Literature. An expert brief compiled in preparation for the Secretary-General’s in-depth study on all forms of violence against women. United Nations. p. 22. The authors of the study chose not to use aggregate national statistics, fearing these “might not accurately reflect the diverse nature of life in an Inner London Borough”. Instead they used survey techniques to calculate the prevalence rates of service use, and impute costs from these.
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