UN Women, with support from United Cities and Local Government (UCLG), co-organized a high-level dialogue at the Generation Equality Forum, to highlight local commitments to gender equality in cities across the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded all aspects of gender inequality and rolled back hard-won gains. In building back better, the world needs women’s leadership. Cities and local communities are a fundamental part of the efforts to fast-track actions towards a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable future for all.
Women around the world have excelled in their role as mayors responding to COVID-19 and addressing other challenges. Many women leaders have demonstrated empathy and compassion and put in place innovative solutions to address the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and girls.
“Cities are essential. We need local cities and regional governments to join Generation Equality, because we know transformation starts there, where people live, where they identify, where they have their families and their jobs” said Asa Regner, UN Women Deputy Executive Director. “This is an opportunity to learn about the responses to place and demand higher levels of gender equality, and how the mayors’ leadership and concrete actions are supporting it. UCLG and UN Women are making commitments and we have called for global feminist municipal movements to put care at the center of the COVID-19 recovery”, she added.
During the event, the mayors from, Istanbul (Turkey), Tunis (Tunisia), Bogota (Colombia), Odienné (Cote d’Ivoire), Dhangadi Sub-Metropolitan City (Nepal), and Charlotte (USA) revealed far-reaching and transformative commitments geared to address the underrepresentation of women in decision-making, inadequate financing and protection for feminist movements and rights activists, violence against women and girls online and offline, obstacles to women’s economic empowerment and access to economic rights, climate change, the digital gap and more.
“One of our greatest prides is, right in the middle of the entire pandemic, having been able to build the first care system in a capital city. The great challenge of our time is not to allow women to be relegated to unpaid care work again in this economic and poverty crisis that the world is facing, particularly the developing world due to the pandemic “, emphasized Claudia López Hernández, Mayor of Bogota.
Participants also spoke about how working with women’s groups and feminist movements in “all their diversity”, especially young feminists, and young feminist-led and girl-led movements, are transforming their communities, promoting innovation and social justice, while addressing negative social norms and stereotypes.
Ekrem İmamoğlu, Mayor of Istanbul introduced a strong commitment for a gender equal Istanbul activating a series of tools in a holistic approach, which includes a 24/7 multilingual women support hotline and women consultancy unit. Services will ensure accessible and inclusive multillingual services for disabled and immigrant women. “There is no way out, except full equality for all” he added.
The event also covered the issue of women and girls’ safety in cities and public spaces, recognizing the continuum of violence against women and girls in private and public spaces, and provided examples of best practices from UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Flagship Initiative, a global program that spans 53 cities in 32 countries now.
“Women in our city have not yet achieved substantive gender equality. Therefore, Dhangadhi Sub-Metropolitan City is moving ahead in a more strategic manner by developing policies on responding to gender-based violence. These policies focus on ensuring women’s access to justice, on women’s income generation initiatives and psychosocial counseling services t survivors.” said Deputy Mayor Sushila Mishra Bhatta.
Emilia Saiz, Secretary-General of United Cities and Local Government (UCLG) moderated the event and reminded all of the importance of commitments to be implemented at local level for things to change. “We are convinced that women’s leadership can bring new light, new essentials, new care, and new policies”.