Quito, 26 October 2016 – Women Roundtable was organised at Habitat III to discuss the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and its relations to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

panelThe Women Roundtable brought together a wide range of speakers from academia, grassroots and international organisations who in different ways emphasised the essential linkages between increased gender equality and empowerment of women with the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. The New Urban Agenda cannot succeed without transformative change to gender relations and substantial empowerment of women according to several speakers at the roundtable.

Analysing the New Urban Agenda from a gender perspective, Ms. Caroline Moser, Urban Anthropologist, University of Manchester, pointed out that there are eleven references to gender responsive interventions in the New Urban Agenda and work is needed to define what that means in practical terms. There are also three references that have a transformative potential, with reference to agency and changing the structure of gender power relations. As pointed out by Ms. Moser, “disaggregated data is needed to show the situation and provide evidence of change.”

Minister Eunice Andrade da Siva Spencer Lopez, Ministry of Infrastructure, Land Management and Housing in Cape Verde, talked about the importance of developing national urban policies based on science and community participation, and these have to be gender sensitive to implement the New Urban Agenda. She stated that in Cape Verde “we are committed to develop a nation urban policy that is gender sensitive and contribute to the empowerment of women.”

Mr. Mikael Atterhög, Senior Programme Specialist, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), explained that since Sweden has declared a feminist foreign policy, the government is very supportive of gender equality in international development cooperation. Disaggregation of data by sex and age gives us deeper knowledge of what we are talking about. He also reminded the audience that “Gender equality is about both women and men, about equal rights. We need to change the mind-sets of men and boys, this is needed for transformative change towards gender equality.”

Ms. Olga Segovia, Advisory Board Member, Huairou Commission, challenged the audience to think of ways to “move from a culture of discrimination to a culture of rights.” Cities are central to boost and guarantee the rights of women and men according to her, but there are also important inequalities in terms of income and poverty urban areas and these have to be addressed. Public spaces in cites are for example often restricted due to violence and harassment of women.

Ms. Relinda Sosa, Civil Society Activist, Peru, claimed that the rights of women living in poverty in cities are not fulfilled. Calling for action, she stressed the agency of women “We are not passive clients, we are active parts of society. We are the implementers who will implement the New Urban Agenda.”