2nd Asian Women’s Network Forum

Building Inclusive and Safer Cities

Following the adoption of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, the world is focusing on developing an implementation plan to realize the SDGs. The UN Habitat III Conference in Quito in October 2016 will focus on the importance of city governments' role in the sustainable development of urbanization and agree on the New Urban Agenda.

In line with this, Seoul is preparing a conference to discuss SDG 11 – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable – one of the major requisites for sustainable urban development, women’s safety and security in cities, and Asian urban governments’ strategies and public-private partnerships on building safe cities for women.

 

Program summary

August 31
Asian Dialogue (Pre-forum)

The pre-forum ‘Asian Dialogue’ will focus on the strategies set by Asian cities for a city safe for women and a future collaboration plan among cities for building safe Asian cities. Urban problems are not only confined to one city. Urban cities must collaborate through a close network to address and solve urban safety and security issues. With a committee comprised of women’s organizations, women’s NGOs, experts and Asian local governance officials, ‘Asian Dialogue’ will agree on the Urban Strategy for a safe city proposed prior to the session and also agree on a future cooperation plan. The recommendations from Asian Dialogue will be shared at the UN Habitat III for cities around the world to become aware of and contribute in resolving women’s problems in Asian urban cities.

The pre-forum ‘Asian Dialogue’ will focus on the strategies set by Asian cities for a city safe for women and a future collaboration plan among cities for building safe Asian cities. Urban problems are not only confined to one city. Urban cities must collaborate through a close network to address and solve urban safety and security issues. With a committee comprised of women’s organizations, women’s NGOs, experts and Asian local governance officials, ‘Asian Dialogue’ will agree on the Urban Strategy for a safe city proposed prior to the session and also agree on a future cooperation plan. The recommendations from Asian Dialogue will be shared at the UN Habitat III for cities around the world to become aware of and contribute in resolving women’s problems in Asian urban cities.

September 1
Session 1 – Building a city safe from disasters
A discussion is required to address and seek a solution on risks for Asian women in disasters. Every year natural disasters such as typhoons, tsunamis, and earthquakes occur in many parts of Asia and the mortality rate from disasters in Asia has reached 95% causing tremendous economic and social burden on cities. Women suffer disproportionately during a crisis and its recovery stage. For example, 90% of victims in a disaster in Bangladesh are women. Women are vulnerable to disasters as a result of social and cultural customs, and during the disaster recovery stage women are easily exposed to safety threatening situations such as rape, violence, and human trafficking etc. To address these issues, natural disaster management should be observed with a gender-sensitive approach. Session 1 will focus on gender sensitive disaster management including increasing women’s participation in disaster risk reduction and establishing measures to reduce disaster impact on women and prevent violence against women in the disaster recovery stage.

Session 2 – Building a city safe from violence
Violence against women is prevalent in the world (according to a UN report, 1 in 3 women are victims of violence) and immediate measures are required to address this issue. Violence against women is becoming a serious issue following the rapid urbanization of Asia and is appearing in various forms including rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, misogyny, and honor killings. Violence against women hampers women’s free social and financial activities and also violates their basic human right of living a life free of violence. The urban government’s role is critical and essential in addressing women’s safety in cities. City governments should strive to eradicate violence against women by improving urban environment and legal systems and developing urban policies addressing women’s safety.