Cities Alliance envisions a world where all women and girls can live in inclusive and equitable cities and communities.
The Cities for Women Global Programme aims at increasing girls’ and women’s engagement in urban development and governance through a participatory approach, applying a cyclical, reflexive process of exploration, co-creation, experimentation, and evaluation in all its activities and projects.
In order to achieve that, in the coming months Cities Alliance will implement a series of pilot projects in selected cities.
Femmedina – Inclusive City Program in Tunis
Public spaces in Tunisia have been instrumental in providing avenues for women to be equal participants in the cultural and political transformation of their Country and communities. In this sense, looking at public space through a gender lens allows for greater insight on how half of the world's population participates in community and cultural life.
An opportunity for doing this is the Medina of Tunis. Urban services in the Medina are lacking and almost all the housing stock and public spaces need to be rehabilitated. The poor conditions in which most of the Medina population live prompted a move towards the periphery of Tunis and thus the Medina slowly started to lose its inhabitants. Some historic rehabilitation projects have been undertaken in the last years with a strong focus on tourist facilities and services. Often efforts to clean up and revitalize neighborhoods, are accomplished through a combination of city beautification measures and the displacement of people which are perceived by the public as carriers of crime, disorder, and disease.
The typical example is a formerly low-income neighborhood where longtime residents and businesses are displaced by white-collar workers and overpriced coffeehouses. Regeneration projects end up destroying social networks and having a negative impact on women, as they are more likely to rely on local community networks than men. The involvement of the local community and women in the process of urban renewal is necessary in order to create spaces that reflect stories and needs of people who live there. In addition to ensuring adequate consideration of gender equality and the socially vulnerable, we also need women participating in the projects with a sense of agency. Therefore, the Medina needs to make ‘woman-friendliness’ a central part of its urban regeneration.
As Salma Belhassine, a 21-year-old activist from Tunisia said, on the occasion of the UNDP Youth Leadership Programme, “it would be a better world if women and girls felt safe in public spaces. Women would be more active, more productive”
A participatory assessment of the economic, politic-institutional, spatial and civic-cultural aspects of women’s participation in the Medina of Tunis and the definition of policy and planning recommendations.
In this phase representatives from local institutions and organizations (i.e. technical teams from the municipality, business representatives and professionals networks, NGOs, advocacy groups’ representatives, women’s associations and groups) collectively assess the level of engagement of women in the Medina on four main levels, economic, political-institutional, social and spatial.
The creation and construction of women-led public space projects in the Medina of Tunis
This component will test an innovative and comprehensive approach for planning, implementing, and managing safe and inclusive public spaces in Tunis. The location and vocation (playground, culture, sport…) of the public space will reflect the directions identified during the participatory assessment of the first sub-component. The specific uses and facilities of the space will be defined through a participatory and iterative process
A city-to-city exchange to share the approach and result of the Tunis activities with other Tunisian cities
The successful implementation of the action in the long-term will rely substantially on the women-led public spaces pilot projects being replicated at scale and informing future interventions in Tunis and other Tunisian cities.
Improving the integration of gender mainstreaming in local public policies in the cities of Béja and Médenine
Aswat Nissa Cities, in partnership with Cities Alliance and Heinrich-Böll Stiftung, has launched a project entitled "Improving gender mainstreaming in local public policies" for the municipalities of the city of Béja and Médenine.
The project is driven by the objective of reducing gender inequalities in the Tunisian context of decentralization of powers. It will make it possible to identify the specific gender needs of the two municipalities and to encourage the participation of women in the various decision-making processes while seeking close collaboration and involvement of the municipalities. Ultimately, the project aims to promote a culture of gender equality in Tunisia by developing strategies aimed at supporting female leadership.
A study was undertaken as part of this project which analyzes the process of gender mainstreaming in local policies by presenting the results of two surveys conducted among citizens and local elected officials in Médenine and Béja and identifying measures to reduce gender disparities within the city of Médenine and Béja.
City for Women Laboratory in Nepal
Taking the opportunity of the post-earthquake and post-COVID recovery, UNOPS Nepal and Cities Alliance plan a series of laboratories in Nepal that bring national and local institutions, women-led organizations and other key stakeholders to collectively explore potential ideas for women empowerment in urban planning and policy.
Despite having different scales and types of public spaces with considerable women engagement in the past in traditional core areas of Kathmandu, the newly expanding city lacks public spaces that includes the current day needs and necessities of women in general. The limited number of open spaces often lack streetlights and security provision (CCTV camera / security personnel) that questions safety of women at night times when there are maximum chances of increased crime rates. There are very few public toilets and those that are there are rarely provided with water supplies and sanitation facilities. This has been discouraging females to use parks and other public amenities. The public buildings are also often gender blind that shut eyes to the requirements of women and people with disabilities. The limited public transportation is another factor that adds to limiting women to use public spaces in the given time frame only.
The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) has prepared GESI Operational Guidelines, 2013 which aims to provide increased access of women, poor and excluded communities to urban development resources and its benefits. However, despite several efforts to internalize the GESI agenda at project level, the real participation of women in urban development and governance is still lacking. Thus, post-earthquake reconstruction phase should be grasped as an opportunity to recreate urban spaces and policies with gender inclusion addressing the needs and necessities of people of all age-group, gender and abilities.
The City for Women Laboratory
Within the post-earthquake reconstruction portfolio, the UNOPS Nepal Office is providing socio-technical assistance to individual households, developing innovative approaches to retrofitting earthquake-damaged homes and delivering services to the most vulnerable households, ensuring nobody is left behind.
Taking the opportunity of the post-earthquake and post-covid recovery, UNOPS Nepal and Cities Alliance plan a series of online and off-line laboratories that bring national and local institutions, women-led organizations and other key stakeholders to collectively explore potential ideas for women empowerment in urban planning and policy and to think together about the city they want in the future.
August: UNOPS and Cities Alliance key stakeholder met to discuss indicators and methodological approach to assess the inclusion of women in city policies and programmes
September: partners distribution of an individual survey organisation of collaborative workshops with local stakeholders to assess how the city's infrastructure and services are supporting women in their daily lives
UNOPS and Cities Alliance will assist women's groups to perform spatial assessments of public spaces and neighbourhood amenities and provide recommendations
The results of this engagement will inform the development of new towns in the Kathmandu Valley and the recovery plan.
Inclusive Greater Banjul
Cities Alliance is supporting the Greater Banjul 2040 plan by providing guidance, tools and technical assistance to make the Urban Plan a tool of women's social and economic empowerment.
Starting from August 2020, Cities Alliance and UNOPS Gambia will organize a series of online and off-line engagements with local stakeholders to include a gender perspective and women’s demands into city policies and planning.
Greater Banjul 2040 With the assistance of the African Development Bank, UNOPS is supporting the Government of The Gambia to create a Digital Urban Plan for its capital city and surroundings, the Greater Banjul Area.
The Urban Plan will drive the city's development for the next 20 years in terms of land use and infrastructure. The Digital Urban Plan aims at improving urban services to the population to support its development, including climate resilience, economic development and social inclusion.
Cities Alliance is supporting UNOPS in this project by providing guidance, tools and technical assistance to make the Urban Plan a tool of women's social and economic empowerment.
August: UNOPS and Cities Alliance organised a survey of women in the Greater Banjul area to assess how the city's infrastructure and services are supporting women in their daily lives.
September: partners will organise workshops with women's groups to discuss the survey results and propose recommendations of measures to include in the Urban Plan.
UNOPS and Cities Alliance will assist women's groups to perform spatial assessments of public spaces and neighbourhood amenities and provide recommendations.
The results of this engagement will be included in the Digital Urban Plan due in July 2021.
Photos credit: UNOPS
Women transforming Monrovia
While Liberian women play a huge role in shaping the social, economic and political landscape of the country, their empowerment on the ground is yet to happen.
This is evident in the low literacy rate (41% compared to 51 % for men), high rate of maternal mortality, the fact that seventy-four per cent of all female workers in Liberia is informal labourers, high rates of gender-based violence, and women’s restricted mobility in the city.
Since 2017 the Cities Alliance Country Programme is supporting the production of a city development strategy (CDS) for the Greater Monrovia Metropolitan Area, providing a long-term and strategic framework for the city and its citizens. It is an essential process and instrument that provides clarity and certainty to citizens and investors alike.
The CDS process is an opportunity to better understand, reflect upon and implement the needs, expectations, capacities and will of women in all age groups. Their full inclusion is crucial to achieving sustainable urban development.
Urban Assessment Workshop in Liberia from a gender perspective
Therefore, on the 18th of September, Cities Alliance organized a workshop gathering local stakeholders, with a focus on women-organizations from informal communities, to share experiences, knowledge and perceptions on the current engagement of women in the various dimensions of their environments. The objectives of the workshop are to improve gender-awareness of city policymakers and local stakeholders; identify obstacles and enablers for women’s engagement in urban governance and planning and promote women’s active engagement in city governance and planning. The results of this engagement will inform the CDS for the Greater Monrovia Metropolitan Area and specific COVID-19 response actions in informal settlements.
As a continuation of the project, the Cities for Women and the Informality Global Program of Cities Alliance is building water kiosks in three informal settlements in Monrovia and Paynesville to ensure access to safe and reliable water supplies and sanitation. The construction of the water kiosks is conducted through a continuous engagement with women living in the informal settlements. Gender mapping, safety audit checklists and community walks are some of the tools that have been used in order to collect the experiences, stories and needs of around 100 women and girls of these communities.
Report: Women Transforming Monrovia
An inclusive response to COVID-19 in Kampala's informal settlements
Access to toilets and sanitation service is an essential factor for gender equality. The priority is providing widespread access in informal settlements with special attention to women. 83% of the dwellers in Kampala use shared toilets and most have no access to toilet facilities due to the high cost of construction and land scarcity. Moreover, available coping mechanisms are gendered, with fewer options available for women than men.
The Nakawa Market, one of Kampala’s largest, is full of women vendors, trading vegetables, fruits, and dried fish. Currently, the market has 8 toilet rooms for women and 8 for men that were originally intended to serve 1,000 vendors. The number of vendors is ten times higher now. All of these were not designed for bathing much as there is an urgent need for the women vendors who are sleeping at the market. Progressively, the number of people utilizing toilets increases as neighbouring communities including barracks, taxis and passengers, by-passers among others depend on the market toilets as this is considered a public toilet by KCCA.
The Kinawataka wetland in Kampala has for long been a water natural filter for Lake Victoria. Today, it has been seriously degraded and polluted by sprouting informal settlements and industrial activity. The prevalent use of pit-latrines and poor solid waste management practices by slum dwellers have had a significant negative impact on the wetland ecosystem.
Cities Alliance is working with ACTogether Uganda and the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU), to pilot the Biofil toilet in Kampala’s informal settlements as an alternative to pit-latrines. 15 men and women have been trained in the construction of bio-fill toilets in the settlements and they have set up two stances. As part of a COVID-19 response in Uganda, Cities Alliance will in early 2021 set up additional Biofil toilets, this time solar-powered, and these will address women’s privacy and safety concerns. The Biofil toilet uses the tiger-worms which convert faecal matter into the soil which can be used to boost agriculture production. It is a better alternative to pit latrines which instead pollute the groundwater aquifers.
Credits: ACTogether, Uganda
Advocacy and Learning
The Programme will raise awareness on the relevance of a city-wide approach to gender equality and women’s empowerment, informing on good practices, capitalizing on different strengths and expertises for mainstreaming gender perspectives into political and policy dialogues at international, national and local levels, on-ground capacity building, and dissemination of knowledge through publications, results-based reports, methodologies, and tools.
it would be a better world if women and girls felt safe in public spaces. Women would be more active, more productive.
Salma Belhassine, Activist from Tunisia, on the occasion of the UNDP Youth Leadership Programme.