Gender Inclusion Critical for Sustainable Urbanization_228 June 2016 - A panel discussion held in New York  this month brought together representatives of UN Women, UN-Habitat, Cities Alliance and the Huairou Commission to discuss results of the Expert Group Meeting on Gender Perspectives of the New Urban Agenda. Panelists included Ms. Aisa Kaycira, Deputy Executive Director of UN-Habitat; Ms. Sylvia Hordosch, Policy Adviser, UN Women; Violet Shivutse of the Huairou Commission and Laura Lima, Urban Specialist, Cities Alliance.

Noting that urbanisation is about connecting rural and urban populations, and connecting the places where people make their homes and the places where they make their livelihoods, Ms. Kacyira said policy initiatives have the potential to bring about real change on the ground when they are inclusive and well co-ordinated. She thanked UN Women, Cities Alliance, the Huairou Commission and other civil society partners for advocating for the voice of the people, and those of women in particular, to be consistently taken into account in urban policy dialogue for it to be meaningful.

Ms. Kaycira pointed out that the forthcoming Habitat III Conference will be the first major international conference to take place following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. “It will therefore be of paramount importance for us to ensure that the 2030 Agenda is linked with, and effectively implemented through the New Urban Agenda,” she said, adding that in this endeavour partnerships with, and the support of Member States and Civil Society Organisations are essential. Ultimately, it is through strong and accountable leadership committed to empowering them to transform their lives that women and the girl child will emerge as leaders and beneficiaries of the New Urban Agenda.

Silva Hordosch of UN Women emphasized that ongoing dialogue on the role of gender in the New Urban Agenda builds on the 2030 Agenda, Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement and the Resolution 1325 review process. The 2030 Agenda established principles of universality, indivisibility, non-discrimination, participation and accountability, and the NUA must follow this path in order to achieve the goal of gender equality and women’s empowerment, said Ms. Hordosch. “More can, and needs to be done to integrate gender perspectives throughout the NUA document, based on existing commitments from the CEDAW and Beijing Declaration,” she said, stressing that the challenge of intersecting discriminations faced by women in cities needs to be addressed clearly, without clustering all women as a vulnerable group.

The New Urban Agenda must recognize women at the grassroots as critical stakeholders in the process of urbanization and ensure that they are included in the decision making process, noted Ms. Violet Shivutse of the Huairou Commission. “The NUA must place the poor at its centre and ensure that security of tenure is a priority right for women in cities,” she said, adding that understanding tenure within a continuum of land rights and focusing on decentralization would be essential for ensuring the rights of women. She also emphasized that gender-responsive budgeting is an essential component in ensuring equality in the financing of the NUA.

Laura Lima of the Cities Alliance reiterated the need for the NUA to address the most urgent needs of those left furthest behind. In order to do this successfully, inclusivity and participatory planning in cities will be critical.