Huairou Commission: Grassroots Women localizing the NUA

Huairou Commission: Grassroots Women localizing the NUA

In the modern world, half of the population lives in cities, and it is estimated that by 2030 urban settlements will become home to more than 60%. Yet, gender-equal right to the city is far from being realized. Women and girls living in slum areas lack access to basic services, such as education and healthcare, and experience sexual or gender based violence, as well as economic discrimination.

During the month of September, and presently during October, grassroots women leaders and members of the Huairou Commission are taking  major action to address the urban development gaps experienced by women and girls and to build and design the cities they want. As a result, three Urban Thinkers Campuses (UTCs) are taking place in Africa and Asia.

The UTCs in Africa took place in Kibera (Kenya), organised by Polycom Development Project (PDP); in Abuja (Nigeria), led by the International Women Communication Center (IWCC); and in Harare (Zimbabwe), with the Zimbabwe Parents of Handicapped Children Association (ZPHCA). Grassroots women and community organizers came together with the local and national authorities from urban development ministries; mayors; delegations from international NGOs, including Slum Developers International (SDI) and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO); as well as representatives from international organizations such as UN-Habitat and the youth delegation to the UN-Habitat to participate.  In Asia, Participatory Development Action Program (PDAP) located in Dhaka, Bangladeshwill be leading the UTC on Implementation of the New Urban Agenda: Participation of the Grassroots People from 15-16 October 2018. They will be partnering with the Coalition for the Urban Poor (CUP) and the Ahasan Ullah University of Engineering and Technology.

The three UTCs hosted by Huairou member organisations in Africa focused on implementation of urban-specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), such as SDG 11 and targets across SDGs 1-7, as well as localization of the New Urban Agenda.

For many grassroots women, the UTC is a major platform where they can sit equally with international, national and local authorities, and other stakeholders to advocate and discuss their priorities, be recognised as key sources of solutions, share their experiences, and gain knowledge.   

“As urban women, we know where we are right now and where we want to be in terms of urban development. ZPHCA, in partnership with Huairou Commission and UN Habitat, is hosting the second City of Harare Urban Thinker Campus in tandem with fellow World Cities under the banner of the UN Habitat in the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda. The City of Harare Campus is running under the Theme: City of Harare Women Accelerating the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda,” Theresa Makwarathe ZHPCA Grassroots Women Project Coordinator said.

The Mayor of Harare, Councilor Herbert Gomba, committed himself to partnering with grassroots women to harness strategic resources that required accelerating the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. The City of Harare UTC 2018 established a New Urban Agenda Implementation Committee chaired by the Mayor of Harare. Participants, including grassroots women, adopted a 10 Point Plan for the Sustainable Growth and Development of the Future City of Harare.  In the plan, the participants agreed they want:

  1. Grassroots Women-Centered Inclusive And Proactive Urban Planning
  2. To Establish Vertical And Horizontal Growth And Expansion Strategy
  3. City Reconstruction And Renewal
  4. To Establish  Of A City Of Harare Investment Company
  5. To Establish  A City Of Harare Corruption Prevention Committee
  6. ETo stablish 46 Ward Based Green Zones
  7. Equitable And Quality Service Deliveries Including Water, Health, Transport, Education And Vocational Training
  8. To Establish Grassroots Women Housing Programs In Line With Our City Without Slums Strategy
  9. Effective And Efficient City Of Harare Developmental Model Framework
  10. Pro-Women And Pro-Poor Policies & Budgets.

The Mayor appealed to the donor community, corporates, individuals, businesses, other government agencies, and more potential funders and persuaded them to come on board and help accelerate the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

In Kenya, Polycom Development Project organised its 3rd UTC, having also successfully organised in 2015 and 2017. With the theme Wamama Tunauwezo, which means Women have the Power , they  focused on the implementation of the City We Need that is SAFE, HEALTHY and PROMOTES WELL BEING, all these are areas covered in the New Urban Agenda.

As a result, extensive outcomes emerged from the discussions and learning sessions as well as policy recommendations for all the participants,specifically the local governments:

  1. Preparatory and monitoring phases should recognise the socio-economic and cultural diversity of all the stakeholders
  2. All the participants are advised to build new partnerships and strengthen the existing relations based on shared visions and commitments as emancipated in the New Urban Agenda
  3. Provide comprehensive social, economic, population, infrastructure and slum mapping
  4. There should be a deliberate political effort from governments to ensure the implementation of the New Urban Agenda
  5. The issues of climate change and resilience should be addressed in an urgent manner by all the participant.

Article by Sri Sofjan, Olga Pistina