“Gender Equality at Local Level International Conference” held between 10 and 11 June in Ankara marked the closure of the second phase of the Women Friendly Cities United Nations Joint Program initiated in 2011. We have compiled together the prominent headings of the International Conference while we are waiting for the third stage which is expected to begin soon.
In the first session entitled ‘’Women and Urbanization’’ moderated by the city planner Mr. Akın Atauz, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Doris Damyonoviç – professor at Vienna University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences and also one of the writers of Vienne’s Gender Equality Guide- reported on how the needs and demands of women and girls can be made visible all across the city within the frame of a plan hierarchy ranging from master plans to transportation plans with an overall aim of making sure that all women enjoy their rights as equal citizens. Meanwhile, Ms. Zaida Muxi from the initiative called Col.lectiu Punt 6 in Spain spoke about micro scale interventions such as putting women’s city experiences into practice with the help of the participatory workshops in smaller urban spaces such as neighborhoods, town squares, housing zones or school ways.
Within the scope of the second session ‘’Gender Mainstreaming at Local Level’’ moderated by United Nations Gender Equality Expert Ms. Zeliha Ünaldı, different mainstreaming models from Sweden and Germany were discussed. In her presentation, Ms. Gabriele Kämper Director of Berlin Gender Equality, focused on organizational structures, capacity building and budgeting relations. Complementary to this, Mr. Magnus Liljeström from the Sweden Local and Regional Authorities’ Association emphasized the gender relation of the urban services by explaining the striking results from their sustainable gender equality program.
In the session entitled ‘’Community Engagement for Local Gender Equality’’ moderated by Ms. Meltem Ağduk, United Nations Population Fund Gender Equality Program Director, various community engagement stories from the Netherlands and Canada were shared with participants. Ms. Lily Hutjes one of the founding members of the Huairou Commission and International Women Council commentated about enormous changes in many decision areas from parks to housing designs after the urban women organized under the Women’s Advisory Committee in the Netherlands started working together with the local authorities. Ms. Ellen Woodsworth from the initiative called International Women Transforming Cities established in Canada shared the inspiring story of women with different profiles and life experiences becoming conscious about urban rights and affecting decision making process by gathering around through participatory tools such as “women cafés”.
The last session, ‘’National Examples from the Women Friendly Cities UN Joint Programme’’, moderated by Ms. İlknur Üstün started with the presentation of Ms. Hicran Karadoğan Kınık, Representative of Samsun Governorship Equality Commission. Ms Kınık spoke about the comprehensive process in Samsun starting with the research called Status of Women in Samsun and concluding to Local Equality Action Plan monitoring and evaluating endeavors. After this presentation, Ms. Aydan Kumral, Departmental Manager of Women’s Studies of İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, held the floor. She demonstrated the institutionalization journey in the municipality since 2006 with a short movie and visual materials. In the scope of the next presentation Ms. Ayşe Teymur, Head of Equality Commission of Municipal Council of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality, listed the accomplishments recorded in the process of strategic plan and budget, all of which were achieved thanks to the efforts of Equality Commission, Municipality units and NGOs. The last presentation of the session was entitled as ‘’Women Non-governmental Organizations at Local Council Monitoring’’ and delivered by Ms. Hayriye Demirbilek, representative of Cappadocia Women Solidarity Association, and Ms. Nermin Gürsoy, representative of Nevşehir Association for Ecology and Development of Social Life. They briefed the participants about their monitoring model established for monitoring the works of Municipal Council and Provincial Assembly that helped women CSOs take an active role in the local decision making process.
In addition to the sessions, a Small Grants Fair was also organized during the Conference. Outputs of the 38 projects implemented in the Small Grants Programme of the Women Friendly Cities UN Joint Programme were shared with the participants coming from the fields of public sector, private sector, academy and civil society. At the first day of the Conference, the hosts of the popular radio show of Ankara, “Modern Morning” facilitated the discussions among the representatives of civil society, public sector, local administrations and the academia. The discussions highlighted the essential role of civil society for creating equal cities based and shared in the social media with the hash tag of #notwithoutus. As a part of the second day activities facilitated by Zeliha Ünaldı, United Nations Gender Equality Expert, civil society organizations shared their experiences with public sector with lively comparisons and joyous conversations.
“Gender Equality at Local Level International Conference” marked the end of the second phase of Women Friendly Cities United Nations Joint Programme. We extend our heartfelt “good bye” till we resume our work for equal cities from where we left off.