Gender parity for sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11)
Published Aug 24, 2021
Updated Aug 28, 2021
Why do we need to look at sustainable cities and communities from a gender lens?
- Levels of safety of urban spaces (Indicator 11.7.2) in a city affect the level of accessibility and inclusivity, particularly for vulnerable urban populations including women and children, older persons, and persons with disabilities.
- With increasing urbanization globally, housing affordability is critical to ensuring that cities provide healthy and safe living environments for all citizens. New migrants, many of them women, can end up in overbuilt slums, poorly connected to public transport or essential services such as clean water.
How is sustainable cities and communities and gender-linked?
- Housing deficits and poor living conditions impose extra burdens on women and girls, who spend more time at home on household and unpaid labor.
- In polluted urban slums, it is most often women who spend the most time in areas heavily polluted by unclean cookstoves and who wash clothing in contaminated water sources. In general, natural disasters kill more women than men and kill women at a younger age than men.
- The spatial layout of informal and illegal settlements, contributes to the occurrences of crime and violence in these areas. Public lighting has an impact on safety in such unplanned settlements, and women face a risk of physical and sexual assault.
- This risk increases in areas where the location of toilets is at a distance and where crime rates are higher. Urban policies have distinct impacts on women and girls, as they can face challenges related to health, mobility and safety from violence when living in cities.
- Lack of water and sanitation disadvantages women and girls in particular, in part because of personal hygiene needs related to maintaining female reproductive health.
- Gender inequalities in informal settlements result in a lack of basic social, economic and health services disproportionately affecting the lives of women and girls.
What outcomes can we achieve in SDG 11 if we reach gender parity?
- More needs to be done to make cities more inclusive and accessible for women and girls. For women and girls, cities can open doors to improved services, better work and increased independence.
- Cities and human settlements can be safe, prosperous, equitable and pleasant places to live. But not without including every citizen in their development. All elements of urban governance, planning and finance need to actively embed gender equality measures.
- Women deserve equal roles in making decisions about an ever more urban world. In addressing gender inequalities and protection of women, particularly the urban poor, basic services is an essential place to start.