Manama 9 November 2017--UN-Habitat in collaboration with The Supreme Council for Women and the Bahrain Engineering Association organised the Bahrain Conference on Women and Engineering and a training workshop on Gender in Urban Planning and Design in Manama early this week.

The conference was held under the patronage of Princess Sabika bent Ibrahim First Lady of Bahrain and was inaugurated by the First Deputy Prime Minister Khalid bin Abdullah al Khalifa. Laura Petrella, Leader of City Planning, Extension and Design Unit at UN-Habitat and Tarek El-Sheikh Director of the Sub-regional Office for the Gulf States at UN-Habitat participated in the opening plenary panel discussion.

Mr. El-Sheikh highlighted how the NUA provides opportunities for women to engage in leadership roles in urban development, to access increased economic opportunities and to enhance access to safe and adequate public spaces and services in the region. He also presented the relevant work of UN-Habitat in the region.

Ms. Petrella spoke of UN-Habitat Gender mainstreaming strategy in urban planning and design in light of the New Urban Agenda. She also elaborated on the gender-sensitive urban development policies and plans advocated by the NUA and how connectivity, density and mixed uses can benefit women and on the need for localized gender disaggregated data to be collected to better inform planning.

The training was attended by some 50 Bahraini female engineers and focused on Gender Mainstreaming in Urban Planning and Design. Ms. Petrella, Mr. El-Sheikh and Ana Falu of the University of Cordoba, Argentina and Chair of UN-Habitat’s Gender Advisory Group facilitated discussions to raise awareness and understanding on Gender equality and on the role of urban planning for Women empowerment. Experiences and tools from different contexts where presented and key urban concerns for women in Bahrain discussed. Ms. Falu provided gender disaggregated data which highlights the different uses and needs of women in cities in relation to mobility, housing, services and public space. From the discussion, it emerged that, notwithstanding a high participation of women in the workforce and in the engineering profession, Bahrain women still have to contend with the highest share of domestic responsibility and inadequate support to reproductive work.

The UN-Habitat representatives also met with the First Lady of Bahrain who is also the Chair of the Supreme Council of Women who expressed her appreciation for the collaboration with the United Nations and stressed the need for more attention towards university curricula on Gender and urban and planning and the strong engagement of Bahraini women in professional and social work.