What can women bring to Habitat III?

Habitat III is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development, to take place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 – 20 October, 2016. EAROPH has been asked to provide input to the Expert Group Meeting on Women and the New Urban Agenda. UN Habitat is seeking women’s perspective on urbanization. Women hold up half the sky and build communities in which our families can prosper. The challenge of accommodating the huge movements of peoples, from climate change affected areas and from war-torn areas, is leading to quick responses.

In our haste are we sacrificing our communities and all they bring to us? Internally displaced peoples have children who require education. Refugees need to build solid futures for their families. Rural people move to cities to take advantage of infrastructure and services and to get jobs. But none of us want to arrive at our destination as isolated individuals.

Firstly, we all are part of a family, however fragmented, however dispersed across the Earth. And our contact with our families feeds our soul.

Secondly, we are part of a local community. Locally we grow food, engage with the earth and each other, sharing the produce of our labours and our talents. We nod greetings at each other. We eat and dance together. We cry and laugh together. These community activities build skilful people, resilient people.

Thirdly, we are part of a nation or a state from which we get our identity. For some the history of our family creates a tribal identity. For others, whose family melded down the generations, we bring our dreams for the future. It is in sharing those dreams and those stories, that we express our humanity. It is in listening to others’ stories that we demonstrate our wisdom and our generosity.

Lastly, we are humans among an infinite number of lifeforms on Earth. We co-habit within the natural world. From nature comes all our knowledge, the air we breathe, the water we drink and wash in, and the food we eat. And to nature we provide waste that it recycles.

Bringing all this together in providing housing and sustainable urban settlements so that not only the cities are resilient into the future, but our Earth is enriched by human input is the challenge of Habitat III.

EAROPH is providing input to the Huairou Commission’s expert group meeting on Women and the New Urban Agenda on 29-30 September 2015.

Below is Kerry McGovern, EAROPH with Dr Joan Clos, Executive Director, UN Habitat and Prof Emma Porio, Ateneo de Manila University

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