DSC_0834Surabaya, 26 July 2016 –  UN-Habitat, UN Women, Huairou Commission and Ministry of Public Works and Housing, Government of Indonesia organised a joint side event at Habitat III PrepCom3 in Surabaya, Indonesia - A Gender Equality Approach to Urban Development.

Creating safe and inclusive spaces which respond to the needs of women and men is imperative for increasing social cohesion and sustainable urban development. Equally importantly, empowering women and girls is a human right. It increases safety and fuels thriving economies. Yet gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in ever society. Women lack access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. They are too often denied access to basic education and health care. Women in all parts of the world also suffer violence and discrimination, including the fear and experience of sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence. Urban development processes must address these inequalities and ensure that women can equally contribute to and benefit from urban development.

Opening the event, Dr. Heru Kasidi, Deputy Minister of Women’s Empowerment, Indonesia explained the importance of mainstreaming gender in all of the work of the government: “Gender matters in planning, implementation and monitoring of activities.” Gender mainstreaming is a tool to achieve gender equality and create equal opportunities for all.

DSC_0842Ms. Lana Winayanti, Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Public Work and Housing for Social Economy and Community Empowerment, Indonesia explained that: “First we did not really understand why we should think about gender in the Ministry of Public when we dealt for example with building roads and houses, but now we understand. We understand the importance of addressing the perspectives of men and women in our work” She also explained that they have breastfeeding rooms for working mothers in the ministry to facilitate for mothers to come back to work.

Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, the Deputy Executive Director, UN-Habitat, closed the event by explaining that if “we don’t plan our cities we will get chaos, if we plan we can facilitate empowerment of people, of men and women.” She also encouraged member states to endorse the New Urban Agenda as a tool to create a better urban future and emphasised that among UN agencies, UN-Habitat is in the best position to coordinate urban issues after Habitat III.