“The new urban agenda should integrate a gender perspective”—Lakshmi Puri

Remarks by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri at the “Role of Local Authorities and Networks on the Implementation of the SDGs” event on 17 May in New York.


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Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank the Permanent Mission of Spain for its kind invitation to participate in this discussion on the role of local authorities’ networks in the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It must be emphasized that Habitat III is the first global conference to build on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and it is our common aim to promote its commitment to the centrality of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Our call is for the new urban agenda to be guided by the core principles grounded in international human rights standards including universality, indivisibility, equality and non-discrimination, active and meaningful participation and accountability.

UN Women urges that the new urban agenda should integrate a gender perspective throughout the entire framework, building on existing commitments to gender equality, such as those contained in the Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

UN Women has continuously stressed the important links between gender equality and urban development and how cities have always represented a land of opportunities for empowerment, for income generation and for social interaction. Yet if gender considerations are not integrated into the city design, planning and governance, the cities and the public spaces become the land of discrimination, exclusion and violence. A determinant factor for either way is political will and leadership.

Local authorities hold the keys to ensure that cities and human settlements become the scenarios for the realization of the future that we want. While recognizing women as equal partners in urban development, leadership is called to target women especially in poverty alleviation, health, education, economic development, conflict resolution and safety programmes, in an effort to bolster them against the discrimination they often face in these spheres.

Further, we also reiterate the need for reliable sources of financing and putting into place mechanisms to ensure more careful gender-responsive monitoring and evaluation of the urban policies and programmes. Also, establishing effective accountability and transparency mechanisms are key to ensuring effective incorporation of gender perspectives into the urban agenda.

In an effort to ensure that no one is left behind, the new urban agenda must prioritize multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that women and girls face on the basis of sex, age, income, location, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disabilities and other factors.

A transformative urban agenda requires: normative, legal and policy frameworks that are gender-responsive, particularly with regards to urban planning and design; inclusive institutional arrangements; significantly increased investments for gender equality; and a strong commitment to data collection and analysis, including gender statistics.

It must be highlighted that women’s full participation and leadership in the design, planning, budgeting, implementation and evaluation of urban policies is fundamental for democratic accountability and the legitimacy of the new urban agenda. This includes the participation of women’s civil society organizations.

UN Women counts on your support to its call for the new urban agenda to feature gender equality and women’s empowerment front and centre. Furthermore, your leadership will be critical in ensuring the gender-responsive implementation of the Habitat III outcome. 

In conclusion, UN Women stands ready to support this process so that women and girls can fully develop their potential, contribute to the life of their urban areas and fully enjoy their human rights in all cities.

Thank you!