Scientific Publication

Gender transformation in a new global urban agenda: challenges for Habitat III and beyond


The 2016 Habitat III conference in Quito provides a challenging opportunity to address widespread, persistent urban gender inequalities through the elaboration of a New Urban Agenda (NUA). To achieve the identified radical paradigm shift calls for critical reflection and clarification of the meaning of gender transformation as against gender mainstreaming, and the elaboration of a conceptual and operational framework that identifies urban pathways not only to empower individual women but also to collectively transform fundamental gender power relations. This paper describes the gender asset accumulation framework as one such approach, and identifies the existing evidence base on urban transformative gendered interventions in land tenure and housing, safety in public spaces, and informal economy activities. In assessing gender-related contributions to the Habitat III process, it highlights a conjuncture in the identification of the same three gender-transformative interventions in the Transformative Commitments section of the Zero Draft NUA. However, these have been diluted in the Revised Zero Draft, which does not create optimism for the final NUA. The paper concludes by suggesting that a potential strategy for the global urban gender networks and multiple voices of civil society and grassroots groups is to reach a consensus on a priority agenda, and post-Quito to collectively contest and negotiate its implementation.