UN-Habitat, UNCDF, and ellaimpacta Alliance Announce Women-led Cities, a Global Initiative to Accelerate Gender Equality and Increase Opportunities for Women Across Cities
Women-Led Cities Will Advance the Achievement of SDGs in Cities and Directly Tackle Gender Inequality Through an Unprecedented Transformational Partnership Between Women Business Leaders and Women Mayors Worldwide.
Initiative to Begin with a Co-creation Journey Consisting of a 12-month Exploratory Phase in Select Countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, Aiming to have 50% Female Representation in Leadership Positions and Eradicate Violence Against Women.
The United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) and the United Nations Capital Investment Fund (UNCDF), in partnership with ellaimpacta Alliance, a consortium of women-led companies and philanthropies, announced the launch of Women-led Cities (WLC). This joint initiative aims to create cities that foster inclusivity, enabling women to live, work, and prosper with dignity and equality. WLC is affiliated with UN-Habitat’s global flagship initiative SDG Cities, and UNCDF’s IncluCity project.
Achieving gender equality in political and public life is not only essential for upholding women’s human rights, but also plays a pivotal role in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) This highlights the crucial importance of promoting women’s equal participation and leadership in these areas. However, women continue to face unequal representation in public and political life. While more than 50% of the world population is women, only 5% of the world’s cities are led by women. WLC is the first initiative of its kind, as it brings together women business leaders and women political leaders to accelerate progress towards gender equality – a goal which is not estimated to be achieved for 265 years at the current trajectory. WLC seeks to create a network of women business and political leaders to promote and develop partnerships that will empower women and serve cities.
Furthermore, the initiative puts blended finance center stage, as the key mechanism for the success of WLC, by bringing together multiple financial institutions such as multilateral organizations, development banks, foundations, funds, and family offices, with a clear mandate of addressing gender inequality and promoting female leadership and inclusion. WLC seeks to mobilize catalytic resources amounting to $120 million, and expects to leverage an additional $360 million in the next four years, to provide positive impact in over 200 cities. Today, at the launch, WLC has over $5 million pledged to start the co-creation journey.
Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, stated, “Women can’t wait 265 years to bridge the gender equality gap. We need to accelerate and support Women-led Cities to promote development and eradicate violence against women. Women in leadership are key to making cities more equal, more inclusive, just, safe and green. Accelerating the achievement of the SDGs, and particularly Goal 11, requires an urgent action to empower women to rise to the decision-making positions. Women city leaders and women businesses leaders working together in solidarity can drive the transformation needed to support human rights, gender rights and equality.”
Mourad Wahba, OIC, UNCDF, stated, “The Women Led Cities is an ambitious step towards leveraging large investments for the gender equality and inclusion agenda in urban centers. This joint effort with city governments, notably female mayors, will accelerate the achievement of SDGs while increasing social and economic opportunities for women and girls by enhancing their well-being, safety and security, and access to basic services and infrastructure.”
Luiza Helena Trajano, Chairwoman of the Board at Brazilian retailer Magazine Luiza and President of Group Mulheres do Brasil, commented, “We are thrilled to be part of the ellaimpacta and Women-led Cities partnership. We are hoping to contribute and share the success and experience we have gained through Grupo Mulheres do Brasil, which currently has a network of 114 thousand women in 39 countries across five continents to support women. We have agreed in two clear goals: eradicate violence against women in the next 4-5 years and increase the number of women in public policy to reach a 50% representation.”
Liane Freire, Blend Group’s CEO and Co-Founder of ellaimpacta, added: “It has been over a year since the idea of Women-led Cities was conceived. Today we officially launch the co-creation journey, which at is center is an unprecedented partnership of women business leaders and women leaders in public policy. WLC brings blended finance as its key mechanism to achieve the ambitious goals set by this newly created partnership, which is backed by multiple financial institutions, development banks, foundations, and family offices, among others.”
Through the pledge to “Leave No One Behind,” WLC’s women leaders will collaborate and promote convergent and impactful actions to accelerate the achievement of SDGs in and through cities, across three main objectives:
1. Political empowerment: Improved engagement of women in local decision-making processes
- Women mayors will be empowered through a solidarity network of other women leaders and will have access to specific trainings and funding support.
- Empowered mayors will promote gender parity in local councils and decision-making bodies, and create conditions for equal participation of both women and men in decision-making processes.
2. Economic empowerment: Improved economic opportunities for women
- WLC will select pilot municipal and SME projects in partnership with local partners and female mayors, to fund gender responsive projects related to service delivery, infrastructure and economic growth, which contribute to SDG targets and women’s economic empowerment.
- Women leaders will promote regulatory and standards reform to level the playing field for women in business, fostering economic opportunities and encouraging engagement.
- In addition to trainings related to business literacy and skills, local female entrepreneurs will be supported with seed capital and investments.
3. Better places to live: Improved urban environments for women
- WLC will facilitate SDG the mapping of urban communities and engage with female residents in focus group activities, aimed to address solutions to challenges faced by women.
- Proposed solutions will be developed by assisting local governments with feasibility studies, financing, and de-risking strategies. Selected projects will be funded through de-risking and commercial finance.
The Women-led Cities initiative will begin its co-creation journey with a 12-month exploratory phase in select countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, which will be announced at a later date. This phase will include a series of engagements at community, city, and national levels, which will inform further development of the WLC philosophy, identify important entry points for action, provide the opportunity to develop feminist approaches to common challenges, and capture lessons learnt that can be applied as the initiative goes to scale.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).