Nairobi, 24 September 2018 - Kenya Grassroots Women Assembly and the Huairou Commission convened in Kibera, Nairobi from 17-19 September for the 3rd Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) to discuss Engaging Women in Promoting Safety (The City We Need is Safe), a key action point in the New Urban Agenda. In opening remarks delivered on her behalf by Ms. Angela Mwai, Head of Gender Unit, UN-Habitat Executive Director Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif expressed gratitude to the PolyCom Development Project, Kenya Grassroots Women Assembly and the Huairou Commission for their active engagement and partnership with UN-Habitat. She reiterated UN-Habitat’s commitment to making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable for all. This includes placing the rights of women and girls who constitute majority of the world’s population at the forefront of development initiatives.

“Discriminative practices in our societies place women at a disadvantage in accessing economic opportunities, education, legal representation, and other basic and social services,” noted Ms. Sharif. “These inequalities not only hinder women’s ability to achieve their fullest potential, but also compromise their safety,” added the Executive Director. While quality of life for some women has improved significantly, particularly in towns and cities, benefits of urbanization are yet to be enjoyed equality by all. Nearly one billion people live in slums in cities across the world in poor shelters and without adequate access to basic amenities and services such as water, sanitation, education and healthcare. It is estimated that 33 percent of all women in the world either live in deplorable housing conditions or are homeless.

Working closely with policy makers through the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme UN-Habitat has contributed to improving safety in cities and urban areas and addressing the vulnerability of women and young girls through policy and legislative reforms, city wide slums upgrading initiatives strategies. The Safer Cities Programme improves the livability of cities and quality of life for all urban residents. The Nairobi Central Business District Association and UN-Habitat have collaborated in remodeling major streets in the Central Business District to improve safety for women at night.

A One Stop Youth Centre established in the Central Business District promotes interaction between boys and girls from different neighbourhoods, encouraging integration across various risk levels. UN-Habitat, the Ministry of Housing and the BASF Social Foundation have jointly launched the Kibera Soweto East Resource Centre (KSERC) to provide healthcare for disabled youth, and conduct training workshops on entrepreneurship, leadership and skill enhancement to empower the youth.