The tables are turned

Involving girls in urban development will make the city better for everyone. Girls plan and design with diversity and different needs in mind. Participatory processes are key for planning a city that works for everyone. If we let citizens that are rarely heard be the experts, our cities and communities will become more inclusive, equal and sustainable.

The purpose of this initiative is to make methods and tools available to urban actors and cities globally. We support cities to scale up and mainstream girls’ participation in planning as a part of their long-term strategies to build sustainable cities and societies.

Together with experts and stakeholders in urban development, we have created a toolbox with a cost-efficient process to be incorporated within cities and communities. The toolbox follows a unique process containing 9 building blocks as a digital guideline on how to co-plan cities from a girl’s perspective.

The 9 blocks represent the three phases of the urban development process. They will guide you through the assessment phase (block 1-3), the design phase (block 4-6) and the implementation phase (block 7-9).

Each block contains a number of activities with detailed steps to follow in order to deliver on your Her City project. Tools such as checklists, calendars, agendas, manuals, forms, boards, apps, templates, surveys and visualisation services will help you on the way to reach the expected results.

Thus, Her City provides an opportunity to build capacity on a larger scale. Her City provides municipal professionals, urban actors and local decision-makers with a solid toolbox for mainstreaming youth, gender and socioeconomic perspectives by strategically involving girls and young women in urban planning and design.

Her City’s ambition is to contribute to a range of the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG3 on health and well-being, SDG5 on gender equality, SDG10 on reducing inequality, SDG11 on sustainable cities and communities, SDG16 on peace, justice and strong institutions and SDG17 on partnerships. However, previous projects have shown that this approach also contributes to implementing other SDGs on the local level.

Her City is a joint urban development initiative by UN-Habitat (the United Nations Human Settlements Programme) and the Shared City Foundation. Its setup was financed by the Swedish International Development the Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Swedish Innovation Agency (Vinnova) and the independent think tank Global Utmaning. The toolbox has been developed with contributions from partners such as the Block by Block Foundation (Minecraft, Mojang and Microsoft), White Architects, the Swedish Union of Tenants, and MethodKit. The Her City Toolbox has been developed in close collaboration with a range of multi- stakeholders from public sector, private sector, research, civil society and citizens.

Her City is the result of the Urban Girls Movement launched in 2017 with funds from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The purpose was to map methods and tools that contribute to increased equality and inclusion in urban development. The ambition was to highlight the values of increasingly involving women and girls in planning and design processes.

So why Her City? Because people increasingly live in cities. Cities that already today account for 70% of CO2 emissions. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas. This brings enormous challenges, not least in terms of inequality. Unplanned urbanisation is followed by widened gaps between the city and rural areas, urban centres and outskirts, and between different groups in society. A billion people live in informal urban settlements, and due to rapid and unplanned urbanisation disadvantaged urban dwellers will drastically increase.

Among the most vulnerable are young women in socio-economically disadvantaged areas. Research shows that girls and women do not use a city’s public spaces to the same extent as boys or men. From the age of eight, 80 per cent of the public spaces can be dominated by boys, and girls express that they feel significantly more insecure and excluded.

There is a lack of knowledge in participatory urban planning and design, particularly in involving vulnerable groups in urban development processes. Research has shown that participatory urban development with girls and young women, local actors, as well as multi-level decision-makers, creates opportunities for more inclusive, equal and sustainable urban development.



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