Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 19-20, 2010
Gender Equality Action Assembly: Reducing the gender gap in cities
The Gender Equality Action Assembly was formed as forum for debate and evaluation of the application of the Gender Equality Action Plan 2008-2013 (GEAP), approved by UN-HABITAT. This Plan is proposed as a way to develop more inclusive and sustainable cities.
The Action Plan’s mandate has two principal objectives:
(a) Strengthen women’s rights and empowerment through participation.
(b) Incorporate a gender perspective in the development of human settlements.
Different reference people from the Latin America Women and Habitat Network participated in the 5th WUF and co-organized events with other organizations and women’s networks.
Roundtable "Towards Safe Cities for Women"
The “Towards Safe Cities for Women” roundtable was organized by the Huairou Commission, Women in Cities International, and the Latin America Women and Habitat Network in association with UN-HABITAT.
Key topics were dealt with in the event, such as the role of women in urban planning, development, and the application of public policies, and the importance of including men in work on reducing violence against women.
The participants highlighted the need to debate women’s safety in broad contexts, linking the topic to issues such as poverty, institutional racism, and access to basic urban services.
Additionally, they recognized that women have different experiences in the city and different necessities in safety issues, which can, for example, be connected to their race or sexuality. They considered it necessary for governments and politicians to adopt strategies and approaches that adapt to a great variety of needs and priorities that include everyone.
They also remarked on the necessity of working more closely with men as allies for changing discriminatory attitudes towards women, for creating more inclusive cities, and for stopping gender violence.
Finally, instead of adopting a single focus on violence and the potential negative effects of urban life on women’s safety, the roundtable promoted a balanced vision that also highlights the positive potential of cities to be safe place where women, and society in general, can be well.
This meeting space was valued as an instance that should be promoted and maintained in time, as it strengthens collaboration among multiple actors that work in network so that cities can be safer for women.
Anna Tibaijuka (General Secretary of the UN and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT), Nilcéa Freire (Minister of the Special Secretary of Women’s Policies, Brazil), Rebecca Tavares Reichmann (Regional Program Director and Director of UNIFEM Brasil and the Southern Cone), Liliana Raneiro (Director of CISCSA and Coordinator of the Latin America Women and Habitat Network, Argentina), Arlene Bailey Pedros (Founder of the Padres Pedros Tierra Foundation; Member of teh Huairou Commission and GROOTS International, Jamaica), Caroline Moser (Director of the World Urban Investigation Center of Manchester Univeristy, UK), Sandra Rojas Sandoval Cupe (Ayacucho city Councilwoman, Perú), Elkin Velazquez (UN-HABITAT), and Caroline Andrews (Women in Cities International) participated.
The moderator was Ana Falu, expert in gender issues, National University of Cordoba, Argentina
Debate Workshop: Urban Planning, Governance, and Public Management
Olga Segovia, member of the Latin America Women and Habitat Network in Chile, participated as a panelist in the debate workshop on Urban Planning, Governance, and Public Management with the paper “Cities without Violence and Gender Equality: experiences and proposals in Latin America” The workshop was moderated by Rita Dandavino, of Metropolis Women International Network (Montreal, Canada). Esther Ofei Aboagye, Institute of Local Studies, Ghana; Hyun-Kyung, Seul Foundation of Women and Family; Kathryn Travers, Women in Cities International; Nancy Boxill Borrad, Commissioners of Fulton County; and Bernhard Barth, UN HABITAT participated.
Huairou Commission Women’s Academy
The Huairou Commission, of which the Women and Habitat Network is a member, realized a meeting previous to the 5th World Urban Forum, where more than one hundred women from more than twenty countries shared there practices and experiences in the Academy.
The central topic of this meeting was based on the experience of building and maintaining women’s power and leadership, as well as strengthening grassroots women’s associations that organize and guarantee resources for sustaining community development. Milagro Alvarado, of the El Salvador Feminist Collective, and Mery Luz Palacios Moreno, of the Women, Life, and Peace organization of Bogota, Colombia shared the experience of the UNIFEM-AECID Regional Program "Cities without Violence against Women, Safe Cities for All".
Mery Luz Palacios Moreno expressed that "...women, wherever we are from, whatever race we are, whatever beliefs we hold, we all join together for the same purpose: to work so that every day women can have a life free from violence, so that our countries and our leaders see the need for social inversion, inversion in women, to give women better quality of life".