Women of the World Prepare for Habitat III
WORLDWIDE. With only seven weeks left until the start of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), we take the opportunity to highlight some of the many efforts undertaken by our network members on the road to Quito.
Local Hosts in Ecuador: Luna Creciente
The Huairou Commission’s local host in Ecuador, the Women’s Movement Luna Creciente, has been very busy over the last months in organizing for the upcoming Habitat III Conference. Luna Creciente is a national network of grassroots women’s organizations – indigenous, Afro-descendant, urban, and rural women – working together to promote a development model that puts equality and the empowerment of women at the forefront of policies, programs, and activities to build inclusive, equitable, and resilient communities. The women of Luna Creciente are leading a national process of capacity building in relation to the New Agenda Urbana. In doing so, they have undertaken a process of engagement with different civil society actors and local government, in order to create partnerships that both benefits and pushes forward the urban development agenda of grassroots women, and that sets the stage for what happens after the much-anticipated conference.
Luna Creciente has taken a twofold approach in the process. First is the establishment of the National Committee for Women and Habitat III, together with representatives of UN-Habitat’s Advisory Group on Gender Issues (AGGI) and the Federation of Women Municipalists (FEMUM-ALC). The Committee now counts in its membership 25 women’s organizations from across the country. It is a space in the lead-up to Habitat III but it also serves as a means for continuous monitoring of the outcome document and as a form of advocacy. The Committee has developed a proposal that gives visibility both to the Ecuadorian women’s platform and to the civil society dialogue around the Habitat III Conference.
“La ciudad también debería crear comunidad. (The city should also create community.)” – Diocelinda Iza, Organización de Mujeres Indígenas y Campesinas Sembrando Esperanza (OMICSE)
Second, Luna Creciente coordinated a national dialogue entitled, “Grassroots Women’s Resilience Priorities for Sendai Localization and the New Urban Agenda,” which brought together the membership of Luna Creciente, along with representatives of grassroots women’s organizations Ecuarunari, Cooperativa Solidaria, and women of Cayambe. The participants utilized this space to strategize on their expanding work in building resilience and its interlinkages with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Habitat III process. The women were furthermore able to hold a dynamic dialogue with partners from civil society organizations, government officials and other institutional actors to build partnerships that position grassroots women’s priorities and leadership at the national level. We look forward to moving forward with Luna Creciente’s delegation and vision for Quito!
Mexican Urban Thinkers and Interlocutors: MIRA-Pensadoras Urbanas
Led by Magdalena García Hernández, serious efforts continue underway to engender the Mexico Habitat III process by the MIRA network and the Pensadoras Urbanas movement, born from the Urban Thinkers Campus “The City with a Gender Perspective We Need.” The culmination of that UTC resulted in an analysis of the initial 22 Habitat III Issue Papers as well as a complementary paper on Elderly People. Leaders from the Pensadoras Urbanas have delivered their proposals to federal and subnational authorities across the country, and have played an active role in meetings of the Mexican National Committee for Habitat III. To strengthen their organizing of large Latin American movements, which includes grassroots women, indigenous communities, local authorities, and national governments, the Pensadoras Urbanas impressively translated each new draft New Urban Agenda into Spanish. As a result, the group is recognized and respected as an important interlocutor in Mexico with different levels of government and networks such as FEMUM-ALC, UCLG, UN Women Mexico, and UN-Habitat Mexico; in Mexico City they are members of an expert group on urbanization, which is supporting the drafting of the Constitution of the City.
Sports for Peace in Nairobi Slums: Polycom Development Project
Polycom Development Project, in collaboration with Wamama Wa Amani, began monthly peace games in May in Kibera, Nairobi, ahead of Kenya’s general elections. Building off of the theme of their October 2015 Urban Thinkers Campus “Wamama Tunauwezo” (Women Have the Power), Polycom Executive Director Jane Anyango has organized women living in slum communities to take on the position of peacemakers and to put an end to all forms of violence that emerge during the political process, which historically place women’s safety, livelihoods, and property at risk. The organizing tool being utilized? Volleyball. Grassroots women working with organizations in Kibera have formed teams that convene to engage in peace and safety discussions, undertake team-building activities, play volleyball, and cheer together. The games thus far have proven to be an important opportunity to link the various ongoing projects on the ground to peacebuilding and sustainable urban development.