The session will discuss a multi-sector approach to making communities more sustainable and accessible for women from an infrastructure, governance, and economic point of view. Two thirds of global population are expected to live in cities by 2050. Sustainable city planning should include industry, energy, healthcare, transport, and schools. Social dimensions such as inclusiveness, fairness and gender equality are crucial in all sectors. The sustainable industrialization of cities develops synergies, such as decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation, while creating employment. From the supply of energy and water, to the provision of effective healthcare and education services for all, it is urban infrastructure that enables all parts of society to grow, prosper and function effectively. Gender sensitive urban infrastructure is key for making women and men wanting to live in a city that provides comfort and security for all.
Women need to be represented on municipalities to ensure that their concerns are reflected in infrastructure projects.
Having more women in leadership positions improves the equality balance and gives young women role models to emulate.
It is important to have women take part in project design because only women fully understand women’s concerns.
Ensuring gender equality is a human right and an economic imperative.
The narrative needs to be about the transformative power of employing women and about helping them develop skills.
Panellists discussed a multisector approach to making communities more sustainable and accessible for women from infrastructure, governance and economic points of view. This is particularly important given that two-thirds of the global population are expected to live in cities by 2050.
Ensuring that needs are taken care of is just as important for women as men. Everyone should be aware that these needs are often different and that there is a need for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Women should be represented more in municipalities, either as decision-makers or as technical support staff doing the work on the ground. This helps ensure that women’s concerns are reflected in infrastructure projects.
In general, there needs to be a change in mindset about gender equality. Women and girls need to be understood as primary clients of infrastructure and not as add- ons. Infrastructure is generally built to last a long time. So making wrong choices can lead to a form of discrimination against women and girls for decades.
In Liberia more and more women hold leadership positions, which means young women seek to emulate them. This is positive as it gives young women role models. Women’s involvement in the political process helped ensure adoption of an anti-rape law that protects victims.
Women’s empowerment should become an integral element in all types of urban development projects, whether they concern governance or economic, social and environmental sustainability. It is important for women to participate in the design of projects because only women fully understand women’s concerns.
Ensuring gender equality is a human right and an economic imperative. For example, limited access to infrastructure can create a situation where violence is more likely to occur. If transport systems are designed to reduce women’s exposure to violence and abuse, then women will be more likely to travel and will be in a stronger position to contribute to the economy.
The narrative about employing women should not be, as was the case in the automobile sector, that they were recruited because they had smaller hands and could handle small tools more easily, and because they accepted lower wages. The narrative needs to be about the transformative power of employing women and about helping them to develop skills. There also need to be policies guaranteeing the rights of women and others who are less included and less empowered.
A key challenge is how to bring women out of the informal economy. One idea being explored in Liberia is to set up a vocational school. Another idea is to help women organise themselves in associations so they can negotiate and improve their working conditions. Foreign investors may be interested in funding projects, but need to know that national policies will guarantee that projects will not be interrupted.