Key Resources: Working on gender equality in urban areas

Workiing on gender equality in urban areas
Food security
Participation and citizenship in urban governance
Provision of basic services
Gender and social accountability – basic services
Violence and security in the city (safe cities)
Climate change adaptation, resilience, disaster risk reduction
Organisations and websites

Working on gender equality in urban areas

State of Women in Cities 2012/3: Gender and the Prosperity of Cities (2013) UN-Habitat, Nairobi: UN-Habitat, and Prosperity% 20of Cities.pdf (last accessed 8 January 2015), 85 pp.

This comprehensive report, based on academic research and the results of a UN-Habitat survey undertaken in five cities, is divided into three sections. Part One outlines the gendered nature of urban poverty and prosperity, and sets out regional variations. Part Two examines how women are disadvantaged across a range of issues, including: housing; health, gender-based violence; infrastructure; human capital and productivity; and urban politics. Part Three looks at policy in regard to creating gender-sensitive and gender-equitable cities. A particularly helpful feature of the report is the key messages section, which pulls out 17 important points from across the report, the first being that cities in the future will be populated by more women than men, particularly in older age groups, and the number of female-headed households will continue to rise.

Gender, Urban Development and the Politics of Space (2013) Sylvia Chant and Cathy McIlwaine, E-International Relations, 4 June, (last accessed 8 January 2015), 11 pp.

The authors of this paper were major contributors to the UN-Habitat State of Women in Cities 2012/3: Gender and the Prosperity of Cities report (see above) and in this paper they touch on many of the issues addressed in that report, particularly in Part Two, in effect providing a very useful overview of the key issues involved in debates around gender and urbanisation. In addition, the paper provides a useful references list.

Gender Equality and Sustainable Urbanisation: Fact Sheet (2009) UN WomenWatch, New York: UN WomenWatch, Watch_Gender_Equality_and_Sustainable_Urbanisation-fact_sheet.pdf (last accessed 8 January 2015), 17 pp.

Although a couple of references to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals date this document a little, it nevertheless is still of considerable value. Highlighting the high level of those living in slums (33 per cent of the world’s urban population as of 2009) and the likely continued growth of the slum-dwelling population as urban growth continues, the factsheet outlines key areas relating to gender equality and sustainable urban development, arranged under the following headings: Urban environments; Economic productivity; and Equitable social benefits. Each section ends with suggested United Nations resources on the respective topic.

Slums: Some Definitions (2006) UN-Habitat, Nairobi: UN-Habitat, mediacentre/documents/sowcr2006/SOWCR 5.pdf (last accessed 8 January 2015), 2 pp.

This two-pager provides the United Nations definition of slums, listing the five kinds of ‘shelter deprivation’ that constitute slum dwelling. It makes the important point that not all slum dwellers suffer from the same degree of deprivation; the level of deprivation of a household depends on how many of the five conditions that define slums are prevalent within a slum household. More detailed information on slums can be found in the UN-Habitat report, State of the World’s Cities 2006/2007, available at publicationID=2101 (last accessed 8 January 2015).

The Benefits and Constraints of Urbanization for Gender Equality, Environment & Urbanization Brief No. 27 (2013) Cecilia Tacoli, London: International Institute for Environment and Development, (last accessed 8 January 2015), 6 pp.

This excellent briefing note (which draws on the Editorial from the April 2013 issue of the journal Environment & Urbanization on Gender and Urban Change, see below) outlines the following key issues: where and when urban women enjoy advantages over their rural counterparts; community savings schemes that build women’s leadership and support upgrading of informal settlements; how transport planning fails to respond to women’s travel needs; how urban contexts can both reduce and increase gender-based violence; how income and ideology influence women’s decision-making in rural and urban areas, drawing on research in Nicaragua; the changes in women’s participation in labour markets in Dhaka, Bangladesh and the tensions this can generate within households; what was learnt from a project working with girls and boys with disabilities in Mumbai, India; and the particular roles of women in seeking to get better services for their low-income/informal neighbourhoods in Bengalaru, India.

Environment & Urbanization 25(1) April 2013, Gender and Urban Change, (last accessed 31 March 2015)

This special issue of the journal Environment & Urbanization (for which there is free online access) comprises a set of articles that explore in detail the issues set out in the briefing note above. Taken together, along with the Introductory Editorial, the issue is a valuable resource that gives a comprehensive and nuanced examination of how gender-based disadvantages manifest themselves in a variety of urban contexts, notwithstanding the perceived and actual benefits women may derive from living in urban areas. The articles are as follows: ‘Cities through a “gender lens”: a golden “urban age” for women in the global South?’, by Sylvia Chant; ‘Community savings that mobilize federations, build women’s leadership and support slum upgrading’, by Celine d’Cruz and Patience Mudimu; ‘Travel choice reframed: “deep distribution” and gender in urban transport’, by Caren Levy; ‘Urbanization and gender-based violence: exploring the paradoxes in the global South’, Cathy McIlwaine; ‘Women’s decision-making in rural and urban households in Nicaragua: the influence of income and ideology’, by Sarah Bradshaw; ‘Female employment in Dhaka, Bangladesh: participation, perceptions and pressures’, by Nicola Banks; ‘Gender, difference and urban change: implications for the promotion of well-being?’, by Julian Walker, Alexandre Apsan Frediani and Jean-François Trani; and ‘Gender identity in urban poor mobilizations: evidence from Bengaluru’, by Kaveri Haritas.

Urban Planning and Design: Gender Issue Guide (2012) UN-Habitat, Nairobi, UN-Habitat, (last accessed 31 March 2015), 72 pp.

This accessible and clearly written United Nations guide argues that the lack of inclusive, gendersensitive and pro-poor policy frameworks and governance are leading to exclusionary trends in urban development on top of those already inherent in the process of urbanisation, and that ‘urban planning for the few’ does not promote sustainability and economic stability. The guide aims to increase understanding of the need to incorporate a gender perspective into urban planning and design, and to develop capacity through the outlining of strategies on mainstreaming gender into urban planning and design (with supporting case studies) and the provision of examples of the kind of gender-sensitive indicators necessary for monitoring gender mainstreaming and progress in urban planning and design.

‘Contradictions in the gender–poverty nexus: reflections on the privatisation of social reproduction and urban informality in South African townships’ (2010) Faranak Miraftab, in Sylvia Chant (ed.) The International Handbook on Gender and Poverty: Concepts, Research, Policy, Cheltenham and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, pp.

In this scholarly article, the author uses the example of urban areas in South Africa to argue that the informality of cities – in terms of physical development and the local economy – and the reinforcement of the traditional division between productive and reproductive labour under global, neoliberal capitalism help in understanding the relationship between gender and poverty in the cities of the global South. For the author, this is characterised by what can be seen as the exploitation by municipal authorities of women in poor communities, who are forced to step in to fill the gaps left by cuts to local services, with this work representing an extension of social reproductive work from the home and into the local neighbourhood. The other side of this coin, however, is that many poor women have organised into grassroots organisations that have exerted influence over local authority policy decisions. For the author, this grassroots activism and transformative collective action challenges the ‘silent but brutal violence of capitalism through poverty’.


Gender Responsive Urban Economy: Gender Issue Guide (2014) UN-Habitat, Nairobi: UNHabitat, (last accessed 8 January 2015), 44 pp.

Produced by UN-Habitat, this guide is designed to help the organisation support city authorities in developing countries to generate more financial resources in more sustainable and equitable ways. This is against a backdrop of the rapid increase of urban populations at a time when the ability of municipal governments to provide effective urban infrastructure is decreasing. The guide has three focus areas: Local Economic Development; Municipal Financing; and Urban Youth (with the guide emphasising the growing youth (un)employment crisis). Each focus area is discussed taking a (succinct, but well-expressed) gender perspective – and as in the case of the UN-Habitat Gender Issue Guide on Urban Planning and Design (see above), the guide is accessibly and clearly written, assuming no prior knowledge, and as such is of use to those beyond those specifically involved in UN-Habitat programmes.

Urbanization, Gender and Urban Poverty: Paid Work and Unpaid Carework in the City, Urbanization and Emerging Population Issues Working Paper No. 7 (2012) Cecilia Tacoli, London: International Institute for Environment and Development and New York: United Nations Population Fund, (last accessed 8 January 2015), 47 pp.

This clearly written paper serves as a wonderful primer for understanding the dynamics of gendered, urban poverty, incorporating the effects of globalisation and the continuing economic crisis into its analysis. The discussion is organised into six sections, which explore urban poverty, the gendered demographics of urbanisation, gender and urban work, urban shelter and services, and urbanisation and gender-based violence. The author questions the notion of the ‘feminisation of poverty’ – which, because of the concentration of women-headed households in urban areas connects the issue with urbanisation – instead arguing that what many poor women experience is in fact ‘time poverty’, which overlaps with the ‘feminisation of responsibility and/or obligation’. This reflects the need for poor women to engage in income-generating work as well as having to undertake social reproductive labour in a context in which there has been no rise in men performing domestic or care work, and public basic services that are often inadequate or are being cut back.

Women and the Informal Economy in Urban Africa: From the Margins to the Centre (2014) Mary Njeri Kinyanjui, London: Zed Books, ISBN: 9781780326306, 151 pp.

Examining the issues of gender, the informal economy, and urban planning in Nairobi, this book highlights the emergence of women as central to understanding the contemporary development of the city through their participation in the informal economy. The book explores how marginalised women’s use of social ties, reciprocity, sharing, and collaboration contributes to what the author terms ‘solidarity entrepreneurialism’. This is enabling them to manage poverty, create employment opportunities, and link to more formal channels of capital and labour.

Food Security

Women Feeding Cities: Mainstreaming Gender in Urban Agriculture and Food Security (2008) Alice Hovorka, Henk De Zeeuw, and Mary Njenga (eds.), Bourton on Dunsmore, Rugby: Practical Action Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-1853396854, 399 pp.

This edited collection opens with an analysis of the roles of women and men in urban food production, then, through 14 case studies from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, suggests how women’s contribution might be maximised. The book also provides detailed guidelines and tools aiming to show how women can be brought into the mainstream of urban agriculture research and development.

Cash Transfers in Nairobi’s Slums: Improving Food Security and Gender Dynamics (2012) Claire Harvey, Oxford: Oxfam GB, cash-transfers-in-nairobis-slums-improving-food-security-and-gender-dynamics-247193 (last accessed 8 January 2015), 14 pp.

This paper documents a cash transfer programme carried out by the non-government organisations Oxfam, Care, and Concern, and implemented by local partners during a food crisis in 2008 and 2009 which put around 4.1 million people in informal settlements (or slums) in Nairobi at risk of starvation. The programme aimed to improve access to food in the short term via cash transfers and to provide further income opportunities and improve livelihoods in the longer term, putting a particular emphasis on incorporating a strong gender analysis at all stages of the programme.

Participation and citizenship in urban governance

Urban Governance: Why Gender Matters (1996) Jo Beall, UNDP Gender in Development Monograph Series No. 1, New York: UNDP, (last accessed 31 March 2015), 19 pp.

Although published nearly 20 years ago, this paper still remains highly relevant, providing a thoughtful consideration of urban governance from a gender perspective. With women’s interests differing from men’s (shaped, as both are, by gender norms) in relation to services such as transport and health, a gender-sensitive approach to urban governance is necessary, with women’s needs and voices no longer being marginalised, and with greater participation for women in governance at all levels. For the author, there are two critical objectives for achieving gender-sensitive best practice in urban governance. First, women’s participation in the full spectrum of human settlements development must be increased. Secondly, gender awareness and gender competence among both women and men must be fostered in the political arena, policy processes, and the planning arena. The paper first discusses the relationship between urban governance and gender, then moves on to women’s representation in public office; community, advocacy, and gender; gender equity in urban partnerships; planning with a gender perspective; transport priorities of men and women; the gender dimensions of housing and basic services; and single adult households and women-maintained families, with case studies illustrating each section.

Grassroots Women and Decentralised Governance: Change Through Partnership (2010) The Huariou Commission, New York: The Huariou Commission, default/files/Grassroots Women and Decentralised Governance.pdf (last accessed 8 January 2015), 48 pp.

Grassroots women’s initiatives from five countries – the Czech Republic, India, Kenya, Peru, and Russia – are examined in this paper, which gives insights into the participation of local communities in decentralised, local governance. Each case study explored in the paper provides an example of a different area of concern to both local government and grassroots women’s organisations; the provision of public services (in the case of India and Kenya), child care (the Czech Republic), neighbourhood infrastructure (Russia), and community engagement in participatory planning and local governance (Peru). What all the case studies found was that for local development to be most relevant to local communities, and to be most effective in tackling the problems caused by poverty, partnerships – when equal and principled – were crucial, and that decentralised, rather centralised government, in terms of power, decision-making and resources, offered strong potential for grassroots communities to access resources and services, and to hold government accountable. Huairou provides further examples of organisations working to strengthen poor women’s voice and leadership in decision-making at all levels of government in its 2012 paper, Transforming Development: Creating Synergies Between Grassroots Women and Institutions of Governance, available at Developmentlow res_web.pdf (last accessed 8 January 2015), 60 pp.

Gender in Local Governance: A Sourcebook for Trainers (2008) Phraba Khosla, Nairobi: UNHabitat,, (last accessed 8 January 2015), 161 pp.

Designed by UN-Habitat for trainers/facilitators who are working to build the capacity of local government officials in women’s rights and gender equality issues, this Sourcebook is also a valuable resource for women’s organisations and civil society organisations who are working with local government to improve conditions and services locally by making them gendersensitive. The Sourcebook first introduces concepts – gender, gender equality, gender analysis – together with accompanying exercises for workshop participants, then addresses thematic areas such as good governance, slum upgrading, land tenure and security, shelter, city development strategies, water and sanitation, and urban security. Each of these issues is introduced by a brief gender analysis, along with exercises and questions for reflection, and a wide selection of case studies, which illustrate what it is possible for local governments to do in order to promote gender equality in local governance.

‘The importance of being connected: urban poor women’s experience of self-help discourse in Cambodia’ (2013) Kristy Ward and Vichhra Mouyly, Gender & Development 21(2): 313–26, (last accessed 8 January 2015), 16 pp.

This article analyses the experience of women involved in a non-government organisationfunded women’s empowerment project in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Project participants encountered ideas about community development and urban poverty reduction – in particular, outsider-imposed notions of self-help group formation, women’s empowerment, and community solidarity. The article explores the ways in which power dynamics and social structures in this post-conflict setting affect the outcome of women’s self-help groups. The authors argue that for some women, vulnerability and social exclusion are reinforced, because of assumptions that both ‘the community’ and ‘women’ are homogenous groupings, when, in fact, unequal power and diversity among women can derail ideas of solidarity and shared interests in women’s selfhelp groups.

‘Gender issues and shack/slum dweller federations’ (2010) Sheela Patel and Diana Mitlin, in Sylvia Chant (ed.) The International Handbook on Gender and Poverty: Concepts, Research, Policy, Cheltenham and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, pp. 379–84

As this article explains, federations formed by the urban poor have become important actors in poverty reduction at community, city, and even national levels in over 15 countries in the global South, and one of the most notable aspects of these federations is the central role played by women. The article outlines the development of a women-centred slum dweller federation in India, which was originally based on savings groups, with the authors arguing that its experience is of value for understanding how such women-led federations have come about in countries where gender relations are very unequal, and grassroots organisations have traditionally been controlled by men.

Provision of basic services

A User’s Guide to Measuring Gender-sensitive Basic Service Delivery (2009) Lorraine Corner and Sarah Respucci, Oslo: United Nations Development Programme, www. livery-/users_guide_measuring_gender.pdf (last accessed 8 January 2015), 129 pp.

This manual aims to assist users in employing data and indicators to improve the delivery of basic services. Chapter One provides background on basic services, giving a definition, and answering a set of questions, including why delivery needs to be gender-sensitive, and what the role of data and indicators is in service delivery. Chapter Two presents some experiences of practitioners in the collection and/or use of indicators of basic service delivery, and some examples of good practice. Chapter Three gives a fictional case study, illustrating some of the ways in which indicators can be used to improve services to women. Chapter Four offers recommendations, along with tools to help users develop appropriate indicators for various contexts. Chapters Five and Six map and review existing databases, assessments, and indicators, revealing a general lack of indicators that directly measure the delivery of services, particularly to women.

Gender and Essential Services in Low Income Communities: Report on the Findings of the Action Research Project on Women’s Rights and Access to Water and Sanitation in Asian Cities (2011) Women in Cities International (WICI), Montréal: WICI, and essential services en.pdf, (last accessed 8 January 2015), 198 pp.

This detailed report from WICI documents the findings of the organisation’s project to test and adapt its pioneering women’s safety audit methodology to generate a model for involving poor women in local government decision-making in order to address the gender-blind nature of urban water and sanitation provision – what the report terms the ‘gender gaps’ – with a major focus on safety. (The report points out that this audit tool has been successfully adapted for use in many different urban settings in both developed and developing countries to identify gendered safety and access issues relating to public and semi-public space.) The report describes the project’s implementation in two poor, urban areas on the outskirts of Delhi in India. The findings included that both communities had varying degrees of success in negotiating with service providers and elected officials to improve their services, with many more changes needed before services could be considered gender-sensitive. However, encouraging outcomes were the enthusiastic engagement of both young women and men in the project, and the increase in understanding of men and boys of women’s and girls’ needs around defecation and menstruation, which are no longer regarded as taboo subjects. The report goes on to outline areas for further research and next steps for the two communities involved in the project.

Gender and social accountability – basic services

Social Accountability: Tools and Mechanisms for Improved Urban Water Services (2010) Yael Velleman, London: WaterAid, accountability tools and mechanisms&refinement=Publications (last accessed 8 January 2015), 38 pp.

Arguing that ‘the engagement of users in utility reforms and ongoing service improvement is crucial, since reforms to improve efficiency (inevitably the main driver for reforms) do not “necessarily translate into geographical equity or a commitment to serve the poor”’, this paper outlines the principles behind, and the application of, social accountability mechanisms as a means to increase the downward accountability and responsiveness of water utilities to poor people. Although not specifically applying a gender lens, the paper pays attention to issues of participation and inclusion in user groups, and the tools and mechanisms discussed in the paper are of undoubted value.

Violence and security in the city (safe cities)

Insecurity and Indignity: Women’s Experiences in the Slums of Nairobi, Kenya (2010) Amnesty International, London: Amnesty International Publications, (last accessed 31 March 2015), 56 pp.

More than half the residents of Nairobi live in informal settlements and slums, in which violence against women is widespread. This report examines the experiences of women living in four slums in Nairobi, detailing the kinds of violence they face, and the lack of safety they suffer from because of their poor access to essential water and sanitation services and government failures in addressing these issues.

Building Inclusive Cities: Women’s Safety and the Right to the City (2013) Carolyn Whitzman, Crystal Legacy, Caroline Andrew, Fran Klodawsky, Margaret Shaw, and Kalpana Viswanath (eds.), London and New York: Earthscan for Routledge, ISBN: 978- 0-415-62816-7, 240 pp.

This edited collection provides a comprehensive analysis of women’s safety in cities. The opening introductory chapter gives context – describing the evolution of the movement to increase the safety of women in cities, and outlining key trends, including increasing urbanisation, migration, and climate change. The book is divided into three parts – moving from theory to practice. Part I – Challenges and Opportunities – presents contributions on women’s safety in urban areas in relation to livelihoods, transport, and migrant women. The contributions in Part II – Interventions – provide examples of action research programmes, each with a different focus, but all highlighting the importance of working in partnership with a variety of city-level bodies. Part III – Tools – gives thoughtful considerations of some of the approaches and tools deployed in the field of women’s safety in cities, and the collection ends with a summing up in a final, concluding chapter.

Women and the City: Examining the Gender Impact of Violence and Urbanisation. A Comparative Study of Brazil, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Liberia and Nepal (2011) Alice Taylor, Johannesburg: ActionAid, (last accessed 8 January 2015), 80 pp.

This report presents the findings of research undertaken with women living in poor neighbourhoods in three cities in Pernambuco state in Brazil; women garment factory workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Ethiopian women working in informal street selling in Addis Ababa; women university students in two cities in Liberia; and women using public transport in Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. The research was informed by the belief that women should enjoy ‘the right to freedom from violence and the risks to their safety posed by inadequate infrastructure, services and poorly planned or managed urban spaces’. As well as the specific examples from each group of women, the report pulls out major themes from across all five countries, highlighting the huge impact that violence and the fear of violence have on the lives of women living in urban areas regardless of context, negatively affecting a whole range of different aspects of their lives.

Women and the City II: Combating Violence Against Women and Girls in Urban Public Spaces – The Role of Public Services (2013) Anchita Ghatak and Christy Abraham, Johannes‐ burg: ActionAid, the_city.pdf (last accessed 8 January 2015), 72 pp.

The research discussed in this report was undertaken to better understand the links between lack of access to basic services and violence against women. The introductory section outlines the concept of the ‘right to the city’ on which ActionAid’s Safe Cities Initiative – of which this report forms part – is founded. Section Two explains the methodology used in investigating the issue in six selected countries, Brazil, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, and Nepal, with further information provided in a set of annexes. Section Three provides context for each country, with Section Four presenting the findings with accompanying analysis. The findings make it clear that while experienced in different ways in the individual countries concerned, women’s poor access to what are often gender-blind public services across all the countries researched has serious negative consequences for the safety of women and girls (particularly those who are poor), severely limiting their freedom of movement and their ability to derive benefits from living in an urban environment – often seen as more conducive to providing a better life for women than the countryside.

Safe Cities for Women. From Reality to Rights (2014) Annie Kelly, Johannesburg: ActionAid, (last accessed 8 January 2015), 40 pp.

Designed to support ActionAid’s Safe Cities Campaign – launched in 2014 – this report is organised into three sections. Section 1 sets out the problem of sexual violence and the harassment of women – its scale and those most likely to be affected; Section Two provides short reports on the situation in four countries in which the Campaign is taking place – Bangladesh, Brazil, Liberia, and Cambodia; and Section 3 discusses reasons why cities are not safe for women, including the lack of gender-responsive public services, harassment experienced by the ever-increasing numbers of women travelling to work and school in urban areas, and the general acceptance of sexual violence within cities.

‘Mainstreaming women’s safety in cities into gender-based policy and programmes’ (2012) Caroline Moser, Gender & Development 20(3): 235–52, http://policy-practice. (last accessed 8 January 2015), 18 pp.

In this article, the author addresses two questions. First, is women’s safety a separate ‘women’s issue’, or is it one that needs to be mainstreamed into broader safer cities research, policy, and practice? Second, do urban safety issues affect all women equally, or are contexts of exclusion and poverty, as well as characteristics of identity and agency, also important determining factors? The author suggests that the incorporation of a gender mainstreaming component of gender analysis into a ‘violence roadmap’ – which maps categories, types, and manifestations of violence in urban areas – provides a useful tool to ensure that the critical interests and needs of poor urban women are incorporated into gender-based programmes.

Tackling Gender Exclusion: Experiences of the Gender Inclusive Cities Programme (2012) Women in Cities International (WICI), Montréal: WICI, images/Publications/tackling_gender_exclusion_2013.pdf (last accessed 8 January 2015), 128 pp.

This report documents the Gender Inclusive Cities Programme, which ran between 2009 and 2011, and was designed to respond to gaps in knowledge within the safe cities for women field, which, as the report explains, has been developing over the last few decades. Carried out by implementing partners in four different cities – Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Delhi in India, Petrozavoksk in Russia, and Rosario in Argentina – the programme was designed to achieve: the development of comprehensive and reliable data on gender inclusion and exclusion in cities, with a particular focus on sexual harassment and violence against women and girls in public spaces; the enhancement of public and stakeholder awareness of, engagement with and advocacy for women’s rights, access and inclusion in the city; and the creation and testing of evidence-based pilot interventions aimed at decreasing sexual harassment and assault in order to achieve greater gender equality and inclusiveness in cities. The report details the programme in each city, and cross-regional analysis of gender exclusion, women’s empowerment, and the engagement of and work with institutional stakeholders. The concluding chapter discussed key accomplishments, lessons learned, and remaining questions. WICI has also published a tool kit – Tools for Gathering Information About Women’s Safety and Inclusion in Cities: Experiences from the Gender Inclusive Cities Programme (2011), developed from the programme, and including guidance on conducting women’s ‘safety audits’ in urban areas, 20for gathering information en.pdf (last accessed 8 January 2015), 66 pp.

Adolescent Girls’ Views on Safety in Cities: Findings from the Because I Am a Girl: Urban Programme Study in Cairo, Delhi, Hanoi, Kampala and Lima (2013) Kathryn Travers, Maya Ranganath, and Alana Livesey, (last accessed 8 January 2015), 59 pp.

Aiming to fill the knowledge gap around the intersection between gender, age, safety, and urbanisation, this summary report forms part of the Because I Am a Girl Urban Programme which is a collaborative project between Plan International, Women in Cities International, and UN-Habitat. The goal of the project is ‘to build safe accountable, and inclusive cities with and for adolescent girls in all their diversity’, and to close the gap between existing urban programming that targets ‘youth’ or ‘women’, which can render invisible adolescent girls, who are often the most vulnerable population in a city, with little or no opportunity to make their voices heard. This summary document outlines the research process and provides the main findings of girls’ experiences in the five cities researched. Important themes from across the research locations are pulled together, and the external, global political context – particularly the increased focus on violence against women and girls – is discussed. The full version of the report is available at (last accessed 8 January 2015).

Climate change adaptation, resilience, disaster risk reduction

Leading Resilient Development: Grassroots Women’s Priorities, Practices and Innovations (2011) Maureen Fordham and Suranjana Gupta with Supriya Akerkar and Manuela Scharf, New York: United Nations Development Programme and GROOTS International, Resilient Development GROOTS.pdf (last accessed 31 March 2015), 84 pp.

This valuable report seeks to explore the links between disasters, development, poverty, and gender-based inequality, and to provide evidence of the importance of poor women’s role in disaster risk reduction. Part One – Gender, Disaster and Community Resilience – gives the theoretical background and analysis, with recommendations for creating pro-poor, genderequitable resilience programmes. Part Two provides a set of supporting case studies, including three from specifically urban contexts: securing housing and livelihoods for the urban poor in Metro Manila, the Philippines; women’s leadership in relief, recovery, reconstruction, and development in the Marmara region in Turkey; and grassroots women-led development in two cities in Sri Lanka. For the authors, these case studies illustrate the work of grassroots women’s organisations in disaster-struck communities securing resources in order to address their communities’ most pressing development concerns, while developing their ability to become leaders and drivers of local development.

Gender, Cities and Climate Change: Thematic Report Prepared for Cities and Climate Change Global Report on Human Settlements (2011) Gotelind Alber, (last accessed 8 January 2015), 64 pp.

This report is a thorough and well-organised examination of the impact of climate change on urban areas from a gender perspective. The report is divided into six sections: Section One – Why is Gender Equality Important in Addressing Cities and Climate Change?; Section Two – Conceptual Framework for Gender Analysis of Cities and Climate Change; Section Three – Assessing the Contribution of Urban Areas to Climate Change from a Gender Perspective; Section Four – The Impacts of Climate Change on Women and Men in Urban Areas; Section Five – Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Responses in Urban Areas; Section Six – Conclusion – Linkages Between Gender, Climate Change Responses and Policy Directions, which together, provide a thorough overview of the key issues involved. The report ends with recommendations for city and national governments.

Organisations and websites

Huairou Commission, 249 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211-4905, USA, tel: 1 718 388 8915 / 6761, email:, website:

Founded in 1995 at the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing, the Huairou Commission is a global membership and partnership coalition that brings grassroots women’s organisations together to develop and share their community development work and to exercise collective political influence, at for example, United Nations conferences, and in global processes more widely. Huairou defines ‘grassroots’ as ‘someone from an economically marginalized community’, and ‘grassroots women leaders’as women who are ‘leading networks and federations of self-help groups, cooperatives and other community based groups, often at large scale’. Huairou organises its work into four campaign areas – AIDS, Community Resilience, Land and Housing, and Governance – and member organisations pilot and exchange practices both nationally and across the wider coalition, and advocate for policy change in these areas. The Library section on the website provides access to Huiarou research reports and other resources.

Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), PO Box 14038, Mowbray, 7705, Cape Town, South Africa, tel: 27 21 689 9408, email:, website:

SDI was launched in 1996, and consists of community-based organisations of the urban poor in 33 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The network seeks to put the urban poor at the centre of strategies for urban development, advocating for the creation of ‘pro-poor cities’, with local authorities working in partnership with those living in slums – or ‘informal settlements’ – to improve living conditions and address exclusion. SDI places emphasis on women’s leadership, recognising women’s central role in community initiatives, and arguing that ‘women’s savings and loan schemes are the foundation for all collective action’. The SDI website also provides information about Urban Poor Fund International, an SDI subsidiary, which provides capital to member urban poor funds to undertake urban improvement projects.

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, PO Box 30030, 00100, Nairobi, Kenya, tel: 254 20 7621234, email:, website:

Part of the United Nations system, UN-Habitat has a mandate to ‘promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all’. Gender is identified as one of the organisation’s key urban themes, with the following areas seen as being of particular importance: women’s and girls’ rights to land and housing; safety and security of women and girls in cities; women and slums; livelihoods and economic empowerment of women and girls; women and girls in urban and local governance; women’s and girl’s health; and the promotion of gender-equal towns and cities. These are explored briefly on the website, where UN-Habitat publications on gender can also be found. UN-Habitat will be holding Habitat III – the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development – in Quito, Ecuador in 2016.

UN Women – Safe Cities Global Initiative, 405 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017, USA, tel: 1 646 781 4400, website: creating-safe-public-spaces (last accessed 8 January 2015)

The Safe Cities Global Initiative is a joint UN Women, UN-Habitat, and UNICEF project, involving major programmes focused on ending sexual harassment and violence against women and girls in public spaces, across a range of countries. Work is centring on comparative research and the development and evaluation of tools, policies, and approaches. A two-page briefing note giving more information is available at∼/media/headquarters/attachments/ sections/library/publications/2014/un women safe cities brief-us-web.pdf (last accessed 8 January 2015).

Women in Cities International (WICI)/Femmes et Villes/Mujeres y Ciudades, 465 rue SaintJean, bureau 803, Montréal, Québec, Canada H2Y 2R6, tel: 1 514 861 6123, email: via the website, website:

This Canada-based international network was founded in 2002, and focuses on gender equality and the participation of women in urban development. The network’s beginnings lie in work on women’s safety in Canadian cities during the 1990s, notably women’s safety audits. Its work has broadened, and now encompasses a range of issues including diversity and disability, working with girls, and women’s access to water and sanitation, as well as safety. WICI lists its ways of working as including: action research, partnership-building, peer exchange, capacity development, technical assistance, and advocacy. The network’s reports and publications are available from the website.

Women and Habitat Network of Latin America, July 9, 2482 – X5003CQR – Córdoba, Argentina, tel: 54 351 489 1313, email:, website:

Formed in 1989, the Women and Habitat Network of Latin America is made up of nongovernment organisations, women’s organisations, and women’s rights activists working to promote women’s rights in relation to land, housing, and the city, in Latin America. The network conducts research, provides technical consulting, training, and education, as well as coordinating social programmes. It lists its objectives as being: to produce and disseminate knowledge, which is rooted in a gender-based perspective (and emphasising the affects of poverty and inequality on women); making gender equality a priority in the design and implementation of public policies and programmes; and improving women’s quality of life. A four-page flyer, giving information on the Network, is available at Brochure RedMyH_eng.pdf (last accessed 8 January 2015).