Ensuring that both men and women are involved meaningfully in all aspects of programming.
For many, supporting the principles of gender equality and women’s empowerment is easy, but it is more difficult to know how best to go about it.
This is why UN-HABITAT has invested in agency-wide strategic planning, training and technical advice on gender mainstreaming. The Gender Mainstreaming Unit coordinates activities to bring about systematic improvements. These include the following:
- Development of the Gender Equality Action Plan (2008-2013), a cross-cutting strategy with clear indicators, outputs and outcomes on improving gender equality in all areas of UN-HABITAT’s work programme.
- Gender training for UN-HABITAT staff – The Regional Office for Asia and Pacific will deliver training in June 2009, and there are plans to develop the training further in other areas.
- Gender reviews of programmes and publications within UN-HABITAT–The Gender Unit serves on the UN-HABITAT Project Review Committee to check that all proposals have a meaningful gender impact assessment. The Unit also gives advice and support on publications. In 2008, this included Gender Mainstreaming in Local Authorities: Best Practices, Gender in Local Government: a sourcebook for trainers, and Handbook on Post-Conflict Land Administration and Peacebuilding, which has a specific chapter on gender.
Working with local governments
Awards Ceremony of the 4th Regional Competition on Safer Cities for Women and Girls, Costa Rica.
Local governments have the power and the responsibility to bring about improvements in urban services and resources. Their willingness, knowledge and capacity to tackle gender inequalities is key to bringing about significant change.
The Gender Unit’s work with local authorities promotes best practices and builds their capacity to bring about equitable improvements for both men and women. The Unit’s work includes the following:
- Capacity-building workshops for trainers of local governments to incorporate gender mainstreaming were held in Johannesburg in February 2009, in partnership with Gender Links.
- A Global Assessment on Gender and Local Governance: UN-HABITAT is working with UN-INSTRAW to undertake a detailed analysis of policies, legislation, and programmes on women’s empowerment and gender mainstreaming in local governments in 25 countries around the world. A presentation of initial findings will take place in an Expert Group Meeting in July 2009
- Sponsoring awards for women-friendly cities and gender-responsive local governments—As part of celebrations for International Women’s Day in March 2008, UN-HABITAT organised awards ceremonies in two regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia Pacific.
- A World Urban Forum 2008 training on gender mainstreaming in local governance — This was an event organised in partnership with the Metropolis International Institute.
Global campaign for secure tenure and urban governance in Dakar, Senegal.
UN-HABITAT advocates for gender equality in human settlements development, so that it is put on the global and local development agendas. At the same time, UN-HABITAT also promotes awareness of urbanisation issues to women’s networks.
Advocacy is important in gender mainstreaming because it is often about creating awareness, dispelling myths and misconceptions, challenging complacency and changing institutional cultures so that they serve both men and women more effectively and more equitably.
Advocacy can also encourage policy makers and public officials to invest in programmes that promote gender equality and the advancement of women. Some examples of the Gender Unit’s advocacy activities include:
- Promotion of women’s economic empowerment and financing for land and housing – UN-HABITAT used high profile events like the World Urban Forum and the Commission on the Status of Women’s 52nd session in New York to promote innovative projects such as Women Land Access Trusts (WLATS).
WLATS mobilise women—especially women in slums working in the informal sector—to form housing cooperatives, save money together, and benefit from various mortgage finance mechanisms. Promoting such projects showcases best practices and gives them more exposure to possible funders and partners to help scale up their work.
- Promoting safety and security in cities—UN-HABITAT’s popular awards and competitions for women-friendly cities and gender-responsive local governments are accompanied by media campaigns.
The Awards give recognition to individuals, community groups and women’s organisations on best practises among local authorities in making cities safer for women, resilient to disasters (the theme for Asia Pacific), and more inclusive. UN-HABITAT is also a partner in the global UNIFEM-led campaign Safe Cities Free of Violence Against Women.
- Promoting women’s empowerment at the local government level—UN-HABITAT uses the platforms of high-level, international events to influence policy makers. An example of this is a side-event UN-HABITAT organised in partnership with the Seoul Women’s Foundation in 2008 during the 52nd Session on the Status of Women. The event explored good and bad practises when promoting women’s empowerment in local governments.
UN-HABITAT sponsored panellists from the Africa Women in Local government Network, the Women in Local Government Network in Latin America (FEMUN) and the Committee of Women Representatives in European Municipalities and Regions to participate in this event. A follow-up session was organised during the 53rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2009.
- Advocacy on gender and land – UN-HABITAT and GLTN organised the session “Gender and Land: From Policy to Practise” during the 16th Session of the Commission for Sustainable Development held in New York in May 2008. UN-HABITAT is increasingly being recognized as a leader in the area of land and housing within the UN system and regularly raises awareness of gender issues, so that both poor men and women can benefit from improved policies on tenure security.
Training and capacity building for women leaders
Support to Local-to-Local Dialogues, facilitated by the Huairou Commission
A local-to-local training session in Ghana, organised by the Huairiou Commission, with support from UN-HABITAT.
UN-HABITAT has worked with the Huairou Commission on this programme to build the capacity of grassroots women to influence community decision makers and local authorities.
A first regional training took place in March 2009 in Accra, Ghana for grassroots women leaders in West, East and Southern Africa. A further training session in July 2009 takes place in Ecuador for Latin America and the Caribbean.