10 March 2015
Women taking the lead
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Women Taking the Lead: Designing and Monitoring Sustainable and Gender-Responsible Infrastructures

This panel discussion highlighted the efforts of women groups toward inclusive and global rural and urban development. Speakers touched on;
(1) The role of women as critical designers, implementers and monitors of sustainable urban development;
(2) the importance of bringing constituencies of grassroots women from rural, peri-urban, and urban areas with proven partnership and organizing methodologies to development planning; and
(3) Partnerships between networks of women’s organizations and local government and elected officials which support policies that ensure decentralized decision-making and budgeting are responsive and accountable to communities.

At the briefing, Jan Peterson highlighted that grassroots women are good partners in global development, and that now is not only the time to act, but also the time for implementation.

In her presentation, Ms. Olga Segovia, stated that public policies with a gender perspective have a high impact on the prevention of violence against women and the perception of safety of the population. Ms. Mwaura-Muriu highlighted the work that women in rural Kenya are doing in relation to the health sector, physical infrastructure and the security and safeguarding of public land. She stated that even local governments are getting inspiration from the models being used by the grassroots women, and they are now beginning to adopt them as well. She also stressed the need to eliminate the use of the phrase “poor woman”. Ms. Ruth Serech stated that everyday women are taking on the threat of disasters and for the most part, they are the primary actors in resilient development. To be able to work on this topic, women need to be organized and create planning mechanisms, she said.

Professor Morana Stripisic gave participants a brief history of women in the field of Architecture. In her remarks, she highlighted female architects that had been overlooked, like Denise Scott Brown, one of the most influential architects of the 20th Century. She also discussed those who have been awarded for their contributions, like Jane Jacobs, advocate of public space, activist, author and mother. Mr. Jo Berg spoke to the audience about urbanization and working toward a better future. He expressed the work that UN-Habitat is doing through partnerships with grassroots organizations. He also spoke about upcoming Habitat III Conference, planned to take place in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016. He appealed to the participants to continue to monitor UN-Habitat’s work on how cities, towns and villages are planned and managed.

Ms. Jan Peterson, Chair, Huairou Commission


  • Ms. Olga Segovia, Coordinator of Women and Habitat Network, Latin America
  • Ms. Esther Mwaura-Muiru, Groots Kenya
  • Ms. Ruth Serech, Coordinadora de Mujeres Mayas (CODIMM) and Fundacion Guatemala
  • Professor Morana Stipisic, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Urban Design Program, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University
  • Mr. Jo Berg, Gender Specialist, United Nations Human Settlement Programme – UN-Habitat

Memorable Quotes from the Briefing:

  • “This is the time of implementation. How do we build partnerships that address where we’re going? This is our time.” – Jan Peterson
  • “Invest in rural women and allow them access to trade and the market, then gender equality CAN be achieved.” – Esther Mwaura-Muiru
  •  “Women do not need to be manly to be strong.” – Professor Morana Stipisic
  • “If a woman can’t move around her city safely, she can’t access basic services. Let’s plan better.” – Jo Berg
  •  “Turn your passions into actions for change to be strong.” – Margo LaZaro

The Briefing was attended by 100 NGO representatives, UN staff members and delegates attending the fifty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Posted in Announcements, Briefings, Events, Home Page Story

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