W7 Statement on the Meeting of the G7 Sustainable Urban Development Ministers 13 to 14 September 2022

Wednesday, 10 August 2022 |

For centuries, cities have been planned and designed from a masculine perspective; they tend to reflect traditional gender roles and the gendered division of labor. Urban mobility systems, for example, are often shaped by male-dominated commuting patterns that do not serve the complex needs of caregivers and of women workers and entrepreneurs. Urban planning has the potential to re-shape the structures and behaviors that define our societies. If a gender-transformative and intersectional approach is not fully integrated within a sustainable urban development approach, the outcome will be a continuation and reinforcement of gender inequality and other intersecting inequities.

Cities play a major role in limiting global warming as they are responsible for up to 80% of total global energy production, and account for the majority of global CO2 emissions. Resilient cities thus have an unique ability to address the global climate crisis. Women and girls are not only at the forefront in fighting this crisis, they have also carried the major care burden during the COVID-19 pandemic. Building resilient cities is an effective way to place the empowerment of women, girls and marginalized groups at the center of urban planning, to the benefit of all of society.

Building on feminist civil society’s contributions to the New Urban Agenda and the timely implementation of SDG 11, Women 7 calls on G7 Sustainable Urban Development Ministers to invest in gender-transformative urban planning that promotes accessible, connected, safe, inclusive, and climate-resilient urban development and infrastructure by:

  1. Ensuring the meaningful participation and leadership of women and girls, in all their diversity, in urban planning and decision-making processes
  2. Advocating for and implementing inclusive and innovative urban planning processes that counteract and address colonial and patriarchal continuities and racial segregation, which are still impacting on access to mobility, housing, economic and political participation, education, and healthcare services
  3. Developing smart city concepts that account for the needs of users and residents in all their diversity
  4. Ensuring equal and affordable access to mobility and public transport infrastructure that connects residents to essential economic and societal services and that is safe for women and girls, LGBTIQ* and BIPOC to use both day and night
  5. Addressing the lack of safety and security for women and girls, LGBTIQ* and BIPOC in public spaces, while at the same time refraining from misusing surveillance and CCTV[1] infrastructure as a means to police and/or discriminate against marginalized groups
  6. Realizing gender-responsive urban development finance that promotes the participation and leadership of women, girls and marginalized communities throughout every stage of urban planning
  7. Investing an additional 2% of  each country’s GDP in social infrastructure[2] to counter the lack of access to gender-transformative health services and care infrastructure, including access to sexual and reproductive health and rights services
  8. Providing marginalized women and women who are at risk of exclusion, such as migrant and refugee women, with essential urban public services, eliminating discrimination and fostering their inclusion in local communities, including access to affordable, climate-neutral housing
  9. Supporting gender-responsive, decentralized, local energy production based on renewable resources, e.g. through citizen energy systems, where women have a say in and benefit from all phases from production to distribution. Controlling and addressing energy poverty as a gendered issue
  10. Ensuring equitable distribution of public spaces between the different requirements (mobility, recreation, housing, commerce) in a way that focuses on care work, recreation and climate change adaptation and resilience
  11. Promoting a sex and gender-responsive, intersectional approach to data generation, collection, analysis, and dissemination in order to gather evidence on all preceding items

It is high time that G7 leaders delivered on gender equality within sustainable urban development. G7 leaders must now acknowledge that inclusive, resilient cities are only possible if the empowerment of women, girls and marginalized groups constitutes an urban planning priority.

[1] CCTV stands for closed-circuit television and is also known as video surveillance.

[2] Why 2 %? Read more about the reasoning behind this recommendation in the Gender & Development Network’s latest publication with the Women’s Budget Group: “Centring care in Covid-19 economic recovery: a five-point care package”. Retrieved online from: https://gadnetwork.org/gadn-resources/a-five-point-care-package