The efforts of some countries to improve women’s quality of life and decrease gender inequality demonstrate the complex processes involved in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Despite all the difficulties in this process there are initiatives that intend to bridge the gaps that still exist in this subject.
An example of these initiatives is the UN-HABITAT's Gender Equality Action Plan.
This plan was developed through a participatory process, uniting all UN-HABITAT programmes and partners to improve gender equality and women’s empowerment. The plan contributes to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, especially around water and sanitation, environmental sustainability, and improving living conditions in slums.
The Gender Equality Action Plan covers each area of UN-HABITAT’s Medium-Term Institutional Plan (2008-2013), ensuring that gender-concerns cut across all work. This plan covers six action areas:
- Advocacy and monitoring of gender equality in cities;
- Urban planning, governance and management;
- Land and housing;
- Access to environmentally-sound urban services;
- Access to sustainable finance for housing and infrastructure;
- Strengthened gender mainstreaming in all UN-HABITAT programs.
On the UN-HABITAT’S Gender Equality Action Assembly, 19-20 March 2010, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, were presented some examples of progress in implementing this plan. These included improved advocacy on gender equality and monitoring of gender gaps in cities (e.g. through new web projects and publications); capacity building for local governments on gender mainstreaming and on improving dialogue with grassroots women; programmes to address gender inequalities in accessing and owning land and property; water and sanitation programmes that maximize women’s involvement and create income-generation opportunities; and housing finance initiatives that are helping more women than ever before.
There is still a long way to go but the steps already taken ensure a fairer reality that can be improved over time.
Contributed by Catarina Campos