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 of a 12-month Exploratory Phase in Selected Countries Latin America, Africa and Asia Aiming to Have 50% Women in Leadership Positions and Eradicate Violence Against Women
NEW YORK, March 9, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — 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). The 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 spheres. However, women continue to face unequal representation in public life. While more than 50% of the world’s population are women, only 5% of the world’s cities are led by women. WLC is the first of its kind as it brings together women business leaders and women leaders in public policy to accelerate gender equality, a gap which is estimated to close in 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 at the center stage and as the key to unlocking and financing 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 equality and promoting women leadership and inclusion. WLC seeks to mobilize catalytic resources for the amount of $120 millionwhich is expected to leverage an additional $360 million in the next four years to impact over 200 cities. Today, at 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 business leaders working together in solidarity can drive the transformation needed to support human rights, gender rights and equality.”
Mourad WahbaOIC, 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 TrajanoChairwoman 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 on 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 FreireBlend 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 launched the co-creation journey, which at the 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 local decision-making bodies and create conditions for equal participation of 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 that 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 training related to business literacy and skills, local women entrepreneurs will be supported with seed capital and investments.
3. Better places to live: Improved urban environments for women
WLC will facilitate SDG mapping of urban communities and engage with women residents in focus group activities aimed at addressing challenges faced by women.
Proposed solutions will be developed by assisting the local governments with feasibility studies, financing and de-risking strategies. Selected projects will be financed through de-risking finance and commercial finance.
The Women-led Cities initiative will begin its co-creation journey with a 12-month exploratory phase in select countries. Latin America, Africa and Asia, to be announced at a later date. This phase will include a series of engagements at community, city and national levels that will inform the further development of the philosophy of WLC, identify important entry points for action, provide the opportunity to develop feminist approaches to common challenges, and capture lessons learned that can be applied as the initiative goes to scale.
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, is the United Nations entity responsible for sustainable urbanization. It has programs in over 90 countries that support policymakers and communities to create socially and environmentally sustainable cities and towns. UN-Habitat promotes transformative change in cities through knowledge, policy advice, technical assistance, and collaborative action.
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About UNCDF (United Nations Capital Investment Fund)
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is the United Nations’ flagship catalytic financing entity for the world’s 46 Least Developed Countries (LDCs). With its unique capital mandate and focus on the LDCs, UNCDF works to invest and catalyze capital to support these countries in achieving the sustainable growth and inclusiveness envisioned by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Doha Program of Action for the least developed countries, 2022 -2031.
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ellaimpacta is a great Alliance of Women Leaders and Organizations worldwide, in construction, to support (or in a partnership with) Women-led Cities accelerate the achievements of SDGs, directly tackle gender inequality and facilitate the social, economic and cultural inclusion of women. ellaimpacta promotes an environment of institutional stability, legal certainty, balanced risk and significant impact, capable of establishing new capital investment paradigms, inspiring and fostering local capital markets around the world.
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