Kuala Lumpur, 7 February 2018 – The Assemblies for Women, Youth and Business opened today at World Urban Forum 9 in the Malaysian capital with speakers emphasizing the importance of inclusivity in our cities.

In the first day of the week long meeting, the UN flag was raised in a ceremonial event which temporarily hands the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre to the United Nations for the duration of the conference.

Tan Sri Noh Bin Haji Omar, Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government, and Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Maimunah Mohamed Shariff received the flags of the UN and the host country, Malaysia.

Speaking at her first major engagement since taking up the mantle as Executive Director of the UN’s human settlements programme, Mrs Shariff said: “If you want to plan a city well, don’t forget to ask the women. We need to plan our cities in a gender responsive manner.”

Addressing the crowd during the joint opening assembly, Zoleka Mandela, Global Ambassador for  Children’s Health Initiative and granddaughter of the late Nelson Mandela, stressed the importance of road safety as a way to protect the world's most vulnerable population: children.

Drawing from her own personal experience, Mandela urged WUF9 participants to ensure that implementation of the New Urban Agenda also included the safety of roadways and enforcement of laws that would prevent vehicle-related deaths, ensuring that citizens— especially young people—enjoyed safe and healthy journeys.  According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.2 million people die in road traffic crashes each year and over 50 million are injured or left disabled.

Speaking at the Business Assembly, Jane Anyango gave a snapshot of being an entrepreneur in Nairobi’s Kibera slum. “In the slums we work to survive. We come up with our own initiatives,” said Anyango. “Outside help often doesn't take in our views. We also contribute to the GDP; we should be at the table.”