The European Development Days (EDD), Europe’s leading forum on international development cooperation, was held in Brussels on 5-6 June 2018. Under the theme “Women and girls at the forefront of sustainable development”, this forum focused on the role of women and the need for their full and equal participation and leadership in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UCLG, together with other 4 major Global Taskforce’s local government member organizations – its regional section UCLG Africa, as well as PLATFORMA, AIMF, CLGF - hold a stand and engaged in different sessions to showcase how the constituency is already taking action to localize Sustainable Development Goal 5 by promoting gender equality in local decision-making.
The programme for this year’s edition of the EDDs included different spaces and sessions, at which our organizations were represented to discuss the role of local and regional governments in developing and implementing gender-based policies to achieve gender equality at all levels.
An agenda focused on women as key actors to achieve sustainable development
The UCLG Committee on Culture participated in a practical session where a set of recommendations on how to include a gender perspective in culture for development was discussed. Likewise, the Committee engaged in a session on how to empower women through cultural heritage and creative industries.
Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations attended the Forum to strongly advocate for zero violence against women and girls.
Célestine Ketcha Courtès, Mayor of Banganté and President of REFELA called for including women in local governance in the session “Cities for girls and young women = cities for all”, organised by PLATFORMA and UCLG Africa. “It is up to us, women who are already at the management level, to attract other women to these positions. We must encourage girls and young women, so that they occupy their place in decision-making”, she said.
Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, recalled the indivisible nature of the 2030 Agenda by highlighting that we will not successfully achieve SDG5 if we not achieve all the Global Goals and she stated that “Sustainable development cannot be achieved by leaving half of population aside: we have to do it in an inclusive manner, mainstreaming gender across all SDGs”.
For his part, Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General of CEMR stressed the need for involving both men and women in achieving gender equality. He also emphasized gendered experiences of the city and how this may be traced back to the lack of women in local governance: “Historically, men have planned cities without thinking on how they would be experienced by women. Cities are differently experienced by women and men - this is why is so important having women in decision-making positions”.
The local government and civil society’s perspectives on women’s access to land, housing and secure tenures were shared in a session organized by Habitat for Humanity: “Building Solid Ground for Women: Land Rights as a Foundation for Sustainable Cities”. In this regard, Célestine Ketcha Courtès emphasized the link between local actions for a gender-based implementation of the right to housing and global development agendas.
Indeed, she stated that “wherever we speak about development, we need to address gender. Access to of land and a secure tenure must be tackled to facilitate the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and to guarantee women's access to housing”.
The session “Talking to Female Mayors in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities in Secondary Cities” organized by Cities Alliance brought up first hand experiences of the first women mayors in Liberia, Uganda and Ghana. Pam Belcher-Taylor, Mayor of Paynesville, Grace Mery Mugasa, Mayor of Hoima and Justina Assan, Mayor of Agona Swedru revolved around how to harness the potential of intermediary cities through gender equality.
The Global Village City Hall takes action to put gender equality at the heart of sustainable development
UCLG, UCLG Africa, PLATFORMA, AIMF and CLGF are the five local governments’ associations holding a strategic partnership for development with the European Union. These organizations created for the second consecutive year a Global City Hall at the EDDs to showcase the work that is being carried out on the ground to empower women and make SDG5 a reality.
UCLG have a long track record of working internationally for gender equality. Through its Standing Committee on Gender Equality, UCLG monitors and promotes the participation of women at local level across the world. UCLG dedicated these two days at the stand to promote the #BeCounted campaign that calls on the international community to track women’s representation at local level to drive the achievement of SDG5.
At the Global Village City Hall, UCLG and its partner organizations – AIMF, PLATFORMA, CLGF, and the African regional section UCLG Africa- worked together to raise awareness on the importance to strengthen women’s and girls voice in participation and include them in decision making to achieve gender equality and make sustainable development a reality.