Women empowerment through decent jobs and sustainable construction21 January 2016 - On 7-8 December 2015 the Gender Equality Unit in UN-Habitat, in collaboration with the Urban Economy Branch, hosted the first Expert Group Meeting for the Women in sustainable housing: Empowerment through decent jobs and sustainable construction programme (WISH). The programme was drafted by UN-Habitat within the framework of its gender-related and urban economy commitments. It is designed to harness the core strengths of UN-Habitat to tackle the dual issues of urban sustainability and gender inequality.

WISH will engage women in the construction of sustainable housing while simultaneously running a marketing campaign to increase demand for those facilities and promoting better sectoral policy and access to finance. The purpose of the Expert Group Meeting was to discuss, evaluate and refine a roadmap to programme implementation and indicators for WISH. It aimed to ensure the programme design is cohesive and leads in a step-by-step manner towards the stated goals as well as to build moment to fundraising and partnerships.

International participants from the private sector, international organizations and financial institutions working with women in urban development, as well as government representatives and civil society organizations, came together in Nairobi to create a partnership for action First, the shape of the programme was reviewed and the problematic mission statement was refined to read “Inadequate recognition, engagement and opportunities for decent work for women in the housing construction sector”.

On the basis of this, the information base and methodology of the programme was discussed in detail during the two days. The participants developed new insights into possible partners from different sectors and listed the advantages they bring to capacity building in the programme. Additionally, first steps in creating a network of funders for WISH were made. Participants collectively voted on the importance of publicity and media exposure to make WISH visible and to sell the idea to partners, donors and future participants.

Finally, all participants will continue to contribute with their knowledge and contacts in the next steps of the programme. The meeting was a successful initial step in gathering momentum for effective gender equality mainstreaming in sustainable construction and urbanization and as the launch of the Roadmap to WISH. The next important meeting within the WISH framework is planned as a side event to Prepcom 3 in Surabaya, Indonesia on 21 July. In the meantime, UN-Habitat staff will work on incorporating all progress made during the meeting into WISH and enhancing its network.

Those interested in the programme are invited to contact Angela Mwai - angela.mwai@unhabitat.org at the Gender Equality Unit.