2030 Agenda, Habitat III

2016 International Women’s Day: Thank you for Supporting Women All Over the World

We wish all our members, partners and supporters Happy International Women’s Day 2016!

For Huairou Commission, this year marks our 20th of continuous advocacy for gender-responsive and pro-poor policies, where we have strived to amplify the women’s voice in the human settlements movement and the human settlements and the community voice in the women’s movement. We have been at the forefront of successive policy reviews, and established strong partnership platforms, advocacy tools and institutional linkages to engage key decision makers for shifting policy-­-making paradigms that recognize the role of grassroots women as critical designers, implementers, and monitors of sustainable urban development. As a result, in 2015, grassroots women’s constituencies now are recognized as an essential civil society partner in the process leading to the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban development (Habitat III) and the adoption of the New Urban Agenda.

Habitat III is crucial because it poses an opportunity for gender equality and women’s empowerment to be as central to cities and urban environments as it is to the 2030 Agenda, with a focus on two key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

·  SDG 5 – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
·  SDG 11 – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Cities are growing more prominent as spaces for the symbiosis of gender equality and the SDGs. Habitat III is taking place at a critical juncture in global development marked by deep fractures in economy and society. Bringing on a new sense of urgency and dynamism which has thrust the informal economy, grassroots and women-led organizations into the centre of a growing international debate on sustainable communities, inclusive urbanization and the fate of planet earth.

In the Habitat III process, Huairou Commission (HC) plans to make continual contributions to the development of the New Urban Agenda in the coming months and will build on our core strengths of:

·  Bringing a unique and vital constituency to thematic debates, agenda setting, and policy-­making;
·  Approaching urbanization and its challenges, opportunities and solutions from multiple thematic entry points;
·  Recognizing the intersection of a multiplicity of identities: gender, race, class and ethnicity and how they contribute to and challenge models of participatory urban development and decision-­making and
·  Contributing to sustainable urban transformation by modeling and scaling up tools and processes that increase the accountability, gender-­responsiveness, and participatory nature of decision-­making and planning.

As a global network of organized grassroots women living in urban, peri-­urban and rural areas, HC has documented and scaled up the specific local knowledge, tools, and strategies that women-led, organized groups are using to address community priorities and respond to hazards and risks. These groups are often doing the work of service delivery, community mapping and raising awareness of issues these initiatives address. To adequately overcome challenges presented by urbanization and rise to meet growing opportunities, investment modalities and policy-­making should reflect the lived realities and experiences of these constituencies. Transforming urban policy­-making and achieving meaningful participation of grassroots women and slum dwellers will require empowering them to be decision-­makers, facilitating their institutionalized roles in governance and planning structures, and using community-led data collection findings to drive policy choices.

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