A gender- and socially-inclusive city promotes equitable rights and provides opportunities and support for all residents to participate in urban life. Although there are encouraging urban initiatives in various cities in South Asia, there is not yet a consolidated approach to inclusive urban policy and governance. This report looks at information on the key interrelated aspects of gender-inclusive urban planning in South Asia: gender-sensitive urban governance; access to municipal services; women’s rights to land and property; livelihoods and employment; and safety and security, and where there are opportunities for policy, legal or regulatory reform in each of these areas.
Across the different aspects of urban life, common priorities for action identified in this report in the policy, legal and regulatory environment include:
- Encourage the participation of women at all levels of urban governance, including through quotas or dedicated offices for gender equality within municipal structures.
- Examine the gendered impact of all project components of urban design and planning. For example with water and sanitation projects, issues of gender equity and participation should be incorporated into engineering, institutional strengthening, financial, community development and health components.
- Promote gender-disaggregated collection of data, including the use of participatory tools such as the Women’s Safety Audit.
- Train and build the capacity of municipal staff and targeted urban actors (such as police, transport workers, land officials) in gender-sensitivity and women’s rights.
- Promote greater coordination between municipal authorities and national / state authorities
- Encourage the international sharing of good practice, including city-to-city exchanges.
- Promote municipal partnerships with women’s groups, including building the capacity of poor and vulnerable women to participate in urban planning.
- Enforce what does exist – national and municipal apathy is a problem.
- Repeal outdated laws and policies which do not incorporate international obligations, for example women’s equality of access to land and property.
- Identify gaps in legislation, such as inadequate legislative frameworks to address gender-based violence in urban public spaces.
- Conduct analysis and develop strategies for labour legislation, business regulations and legal frameworks which secure women’s rights to property, title assets and financial capital.
- Develop women-friendly ordinances between the municipal government and local women’s groups. (These have been successful in facilitating a ‘bottom-up-top-down’ approach to gender-inclusive urban planning in Naga City, the Philippines).
- Improve the enforcement of gender-relevant legislation and directives.
- Examine how existing labour legislation can be extended to cover different groups of informal workers and look at where new legislation is required.
- Identify what obstacles women face, in terms of business regulations, when starting their own businesses.
- Adjust laws and regulations to lower the costs and increase the benefits for those willing to formalise their businesses.