- UN Women Regional Office for Arab States
- UN-Habitat ROAS
The Arab Region has in the last two decades experienced significant displacement due to crises, growth of informal settlements and unequal distribution of public goods, which have affected particularly the lives of the urban poor. Uneven urbanization processes have diminished the quantity and quality of public space, impacting negatively the quality of life in many Arab cities. Public Spaces are often dangerous spaces especially for women and girls, particularly in crises settings. UN Women and UN-Habitat Regional Offices for Arab States are therefore collaborating to establish a regional programme to champion equal and safe access to public space for all groups, as a central issue of urban development amongst diverse stakeholders in the Arab Region. Through capitalizing on the specialization of both agencies in their fields, the programme will produce a novel approach that centralizes gender equality and supports women and girls’ empowerment in public spaces as part of the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
Public space is recognized as a priority issue within the New Urban Agenda that resulted from Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016. With it, there is now a strong political commitment to embedding the gender equality and women's rights agenda in the path-breaking New Urban Agenda aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable Development Goal Target 11.7 calls on UN Member States to: “by 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.”
This networking event looks at the role of public space as an entry point to further enhance peacebuilding and conflict resolution through participatory planning and implementation, with an ultimate objective of decreasing marginalization and furthering inclusion, especially for youth and women. Several Arab countries are still facing challenges in terms of providing enabling environments for women and youth to take part in public life and in peacebuilding. Hence, this event aims at discussing the potential role of using public spaces as a vehicle towards empowering women and youth for bringing stability and promoting basic infrastructure through the provision of safe and inclusive public spaces in the conflict affected cities and beyond. The event will launch the joint initiative, strengthen partnership and exchange of experiences and will feed into to workstreams of UN-Habitat and UN Women in the Arab region.