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Nairobi, 1 Jul 09

Experts from all over the world converged in Nairobi today for a three-day meeting to review reports on a global assessment of gender mainstreaming in local governance.

The 21 experts are from academia, community based organizations, local governments, women’s bureaus and other organizations working on gender and local governance in Austria, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Malawi, New Zealand, the Philippines, Sudan, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Ms Lucia Kiwala, the head of the Gender Mainstreaming unit, UN-HABITAT said the deliberations from the meeting, hosted by UN-HABITAT with financial support from the government of Norway, will assist in the preparation of the final reports.

The reports are the product of a global study commissioned by UN-HABITAT in January to assess the status of women empowerment and gender mainstreaming in local governance, in 25 countries drawn from different regions of the world.

The studies are expected to provide concrete policy guidelines, tools and recommendations for practical actions at the local level, to enable UN-HABITAT and its partners to design programmes to enhance gender equality in local development and poverty reduction.

“The global assessment is a milestone in raising the profile of gender and local governance, which is an under-researched and neglected area within the gender and development discourse,” UN-HABITAT’s Director of Monitoring and Research Division, Prof Oyebanji Oyeyinka said while opening the meeting.

“It is expected that the findings of this assessment will contribute towards strengthening gender mainstreaming and women’s empowerment in local governance,” he added.
Prof Oyeyinka said efforts to address the equal participation of women and men in decision making had been hampered by the lack of information on the topic.
This has meant that the campaign for gender equity has been concentrated on women in leadership and political decision making at the national level, rather than at the local level, he said.
Ms Kiwala said the researchers who carried out the global study had provided a detailed analysis of general and specific policies, legislation and programmes on women’s empowerment and gender mainstreaming at the local level.

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