A two-day online expert meeting on gender-responsive cities closed last week a series of three online conferences on inclusive cities – co-organized by the Geneva Human Rights PlatformUN-Habitat, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Geneva Cities Hub – aimed at informing UN-Habitat Strategic Plan for 2020-2023.

 Gender-Responsive Cities 

About 80 gender experts – members of UN-Habitat Advisory Group on Gender (AGGI), local level politicians and activists, the CEDAW Chairperson Hillary Gbedemah and the City of Geneva Mayor Sami Kanaan – discussed gender equality at the local level and measures that local government could take towards this goal.

‘As Chair of AGGI, I want to highlight the importance of local  leaders and authorities and their role in each territory, as highlighted  by the current pandemic, which takes place in cities. Political leaders  today are concerned with the immediate responses to the pandemic, but  this is also an opportunity for radical changes. Making structural  changes demands to feminize politics, to integrate gender in urban  planning, to achieve the needed basic housing and infrastructures and  social opportunities for all. To address these challenges, political  leaders must gather different actors and social organizations,  universities, feminists and grassroots groups to implement the emergency  action that can lay the foundations for radical changes. AGGI is ready  to advise UN-Habitat in this endeavour, this is our role’ stresses Ana  Falu AGGI Chair and Emeritus Professor at the National University of  Cordoba.

 Towards Inclusive Cities for All 

This series of three online conferences – financed by the Swedish  International Development Agency (SIDA) through UN-Habitat – aims at  developing operational documents to translate human rights standards at  the city level for local governments, city-level practitioners and  decision-makers, as well as national governments interested in local  governance issues.

The outcome documents of these three conferences will be made available on this space.

‘This series of expert meetings on inclusive cities collected  expertise of about 250 individuals working on different aspects of  inclusivity – from a general human-rights based approach to specific  gender-responsive policies and inclusion of older persons and persons  with disabilities. Inclusivity was also the keyword of the proceeding of  our meeting series: translation into three languages, sign language and  closed captioning insured the accessibility of this meeting for a  diverse group of participants’ explains Felix Kirchmeier, Executive  Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

‘These three Expert Group Meetings will assist UN-Habitat to better  implement its four-years strategic plan by focusing on human rights and  inclusive cities – in particular for persons with disabilities and older persons,  with also a focus on gender – and remind all of us what is required to  ensure that ‘no one is truly left behind’. In a world that is rapidly  urbanizing and ageing, this was an invaluable opportunity to address  some key issues and showcase how older persons and persons with  disabilities contribute as active agents of change and not just as  recipients of services’ stresses Katherine Kline, Co-chair of the  UN-Habitat General Assembly of Partners-Partner Constituent Groups of  Older Persons.

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