Nairobi, 20 April 2015 – A gender forum, hosted by UN-Habitat, and providing a platform for engaging, exchanging and deepening the knowledge base on gender and human settlements recently took place in the sidelines of the second Preparatory Committee for Habitat III.
Under the theme, Engendering Sustainable Cities the forum was led by Diane Dumashie, a mem-ber of UN-Habitat’s Advisory Group on Gender Issues (AGGI) and focused on current pressing issues of gender equality in human settlements.
The event brought together representatives from government, UN agencies and civil society to discuss gender equality and women’s em-powerment in light of the New Urban Agenda. Key participants included: Aisa Kacyira, Deputy Executive Director, UN-Habitat; Zoliswa Kota-Fredericks, Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Republic of South Africa; Anders Rönquist, Head of Development Cooperation Section for Kenya at the Embassy of Sweden, Nairobi; Amina-ta Traoré, Chair of AGGI; Gloria Solorzano Espinosa, leader of street vendors in Lima, Peru; Katia Arujo, Chair of Women’s Constituency Group; and Christine Musisi, Regional Director of UN Women East and Southern Africa.
Women’s empowerment at the centre of the New Urban Agenda
UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos, formally opened the Gender Forum and was accompanied by the Co–Chair of Habitat III, Her Excellency Minister of Sustainable Development of France, Maryse Gautier.
Dr. Clos re-enforced UN-Habitat’s position that in order for urbanization to be an engine for economic growth and social development, women’s empowerment and gender equality needs to be at the center of the New Urban Agenda. “We are currently working to ensure that women have a strong role in Habitat III,” he said.
“We want to ensure that the advances achieved at Habitat II are not lost, but advanced upon deeper in Habitat III. We urge you to bring the fighting spirit of Istanbul to Quito.” Her Excellency Deputy Minister Zoliswa (Zou) Kota-Fredericks added that what is essential for the New Urban Agenda “is that human settlements must be designed to include women and must create employment for women”.
Deputy Executive Director Aisa Kacyira noted that “in the New Urban Agenda women have to empower other women and men; [women] have to make links between leaders and communities”. In addition, the Gender Forum identified areas of special priority regarding gender equality and women’s empowerment for the New Urban Agenda, and highlighted the importance of reinforc-ing capacities and roles of governments, international organizations and civil society in gender responsive urbanization.