Report of the regional workshop
Mention of any firm or organization does not imply endorsement by the United Nations. The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status or any country, city or area, or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries
This publication was funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the auspices of the Urban Management Programme for Asia and the Pacific
The Regional Workshop on Women in Urban Local Government in South Asia was organized by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in cooperation with the Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment of the Government of India, the City of Allahabad, the Human Settlement Management Institute (HSMI) a research and training wing of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) and National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA). Funding for the international participants was provided by the United Nations Development Programme UNDP, under the auspices of the Urban Management Programme for Asia and the Pacific-UMPAP. The workshop was organized as the first initiative of the Special Project on Women in Urban Local Governance executed by ESCAP.
The objectives of the workshop were:
The total of 66 participant from 7 countries joined the workshop. They came from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines. The list of participants is annexed. The ratio of participants by sex was 80 per cent women and 20 per cent men. 13 mayors participated from all over India, out of which 11 were women. In addition to the mayors from India, 12 municipal councilors and commissioners from 8 South Asian cities joined, of which 11 were women. The composition of participants by sector was as follows:
The participants were selected through nominations made by country focal points of the Beijing Women's Conference, the Asian Women and Shelter Network (AWAS) and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) which was also working in the area of advancement of women's status in local politics. The workshop aimed to bring together participants working on human settlements and women's issues in general as they did not have much opportunities to discuss the issues in spite of the close relationship between them.
The inauguration of the workshop took place at the Mehta Auditorium of the Prayag Sangit Samiti, Allahabad. H.E. Mr. Ramesh Bhandari, Governor, Uttar Pradesh inaugurated the workshop and H.E. Mr. Venkataswaram, Minister of State for Urban Affairs and Employment, Government of India was the Chief Guest on the occasion.
Ms. Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Mayor of Allahabad City, welcomed the participants. Referring to the rich historical, cultural and political heritage of Allahabad, Ms. Joshi expressed satisfaction that ESCAP had chosen Allahabad to hold the Workshop. She stated that, apart from ESCAP, the Union Ministry for Urban Affairs and Employment, the Housing and Urban Development Corporation, HUDCO, NIUA, and UNDP had given significant help in organizing the Workshop. She pointed out that while India had taken many important steps to empower women and assure justice to them, it was still behind some other countries in the area of women's representation in Parliament and in Administration and Management, and much had to be achieved to extend full rights and equality to women. She hoped that the workshop would reach concrete and positive conclusions.
Ms. Joshi's welcome address was followed by the presentation of an invocation song "vina-vadim var de" by Ms. Swatantra Sharma of the North-Central Zone Cultural Centre.
The head of the Women in Development Section of ESCAP, Bangkok, read out a message from the Executive Secretary of ESCAP, commending the dedicated efforts of the Allahabad Municipal Corporation in organizing the Workshop. She pointed out that the Workshop sought to answer the call of the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women to ensure just representation of women in decision-making bodies. She stated that in the context of the growing feminization of poverty, ESCAP was collaborating with national governments and cooperating with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in promoting women-centered development plans. One of the objectives of ESCAP was to seek substantive participation of women in decision-making bodies, and to ensure their access to resources and developmental opportunities to enable women to act effectively in the process of development. She conveyed her hope that the Workshop would endeavor to draw up specific programmes of action in this regard.
Ms. Padma Seth, Member of India's National Commission for Women (NCW) appreciated the contribution of the Allahabad Corporation in organizing the Workshop. She stated that NCW had been working actively to improve the position of women, the promotion of their rights and the expansion of their awareness of equality. She expressed confidence that the workshop would make positive recommendations for ensuring justice to women.
Mr. Dinesh Mehta, Director, NIUA, felt that after the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Indian Constitution, the one-third reservation for women had positive and encouraging results, but effective steps on the part of the State Governments were still awaited to grant functional and financial autonomy to local bodies. He cited the example of the Calcutta Corporation where the Mayor and Council exercised wide-ranging executive authority. The Calcutta model could usefully be adopted by other State Governments.
Ms. Margaret Alva, Member of Parliament and former Union Minister, gave an account of India's pioneering measures for accelerating the development of women and their equitable representation in decision-making and stated that the results of reservation for women in local bodies had disproved the skeptics who had insisted that women would not come forward to take advantage of the opportunities for representation. She hoped that the Constitutional Amendment currently before Parliament to reserve one third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies would be enacted soon.
Mr. Venkatawsaram, Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker, Union Minister of State for Urban Affairs and Employment, conveyed the Prime Minister's good wishes for the success of the Workshop and stated that the Prime Minister regretted that unavoidable compulsions had prevented him from attending the Inaugural Session.
Referring to Allahabad's leading role in Indian history and the Freedom Movement, Mr. Venkataswaram pointed out that the age-old Indian tradition of local self-government which had received a set-back during British rule, had received new strength after Independence. The stalwarts of the freedom struggle, including Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Netaji Subhes Chandra Bose, had received their baptism in nationalism in municipal bodies. He stated that local governance was not limited to the provision of local requirements but was an instrument for the engagement of the community in civic affairs. Although women were half the total population, they had not been able to get a due share in the decision-making process. That was particularly so in patriarchal societies, which were the norm in most countries of South Asia. Mr. Venkataswaram asserted that the Government of India was committed to the progress of women in all spheres and had presented before the Parliament the landmark Constitutional Amendment to provide reservations for women in Parliament and state legislatures. Mr. Venkataswaram was confident that the Workshop would not only propose a specific action Programme to sensitize society towards equality and justice for women and strengthen local bodies to fulfill the interests of women, but would also give valuable suggestions for greater contact, coordination, exchange and collaboration between international organizations, governments and NGOs in this regard. Mr. Venkataswaram said that he would look forward to the proceedings of the workshop and his government would cooperate fully in the implementation of its recommendations. Mr. Venkataswaram announced that his Ministry would soon convene an All India conclave of Mayors and take other steps to strengthen urban local bodies.
The Governor, the Minister and other dignitaries then lit the ceremonial lamp, and the Allahabad Choral Society presented an inspirational hymn.
Mr. Ramesh Bhandari, Governor of Uttar Pradesh and Chairman of the Workshop, praised the work of the Allahabad Municipal Corporation and its Mayor, Ms. Rita Bahaguna Joshi, for arranging and organizing the Workshop at Allahabad. He thanked ESCAP for holding the workshop in a prominent city of his state. He referred to the rich history of Allahabad and its unique contributions towards national consciousness. Mr. Ramesh Bhandari said that mankind as a whole had been the loser by sidelining and exploiting women. While India had in theory placed women on the highest pedestal, women continued to experience oppression and suppression in social practice. Women had made inspiring contributions in the national movement and South Asia had had more women Prime Ministers than any other region of the world. Yet women were having to wage struggles for equality and justice. Mr. Ramesh Bhandari asserted that efforts to assure justice and participation to women would remain incomplete unless the winds of change swept the rural sector. In this context, the conclusions of the Workshop would be valuable. The achievement of a just share of women in local governance and the rise in the level of their consciousness were essential for social and economic transformation. He expressed the belief that the workshop would be successful in promoting justice for women as well as social sensitivity towards their rightful claims.
The discussion paper was presented by Ms. Nora Fernandes, Coordinator, Asia Women and Shelter Network (AWAS).
The paper analyzed the situation of women and urban governance, exploring the strategies women had responded and the need for regional support mechanisms need to support and strengthen existing local and national processes.
Differences in political environments within South Asia needed to be addressed from the perspective of enabling women's participation and representation across the region. Women in Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan did not have as much right to participate in local governance as women in Sri Lanka and India. Given that information and skill exchanges played a vital role in building confidence and supporting new partners in the political arena, there was a need for a means to enable such exchanges to take place between the countries. Regional groups, representing many ideologies, religious affiliations, constituencies and interests might well offer an ideal vehicle for that exchange but would require support and guidance in the initial stages until it can build up a momentum that sustained itself.
Whatever the form of regional cooperation and support, the focus should be local urban development, the point where poverty was directly experienced, the area of practical needs for everyday survival and sustenance.
New actors have emerged, new forums set up by citizens who demanded a voice in urban management and development. The poor had build larger, more powerful lobbies as public administration had weakened. Urban disparities of old were no longer seen as acceptable. Women were no longer accepting to be excluded. New partnerships, linkages between sectoral groups, coalitions, federations had emerged, creating new space to redress old issues. City management is no longer only a task of professionals, rather it had become the responsibility and right for all who wish to participate.
The meeting was opened to discussion and comments. General comments were invited. Later, participants were asked to share their response to the points raised in the discussion paper from their own country contexts. The objective was to contextualize the regional perspective of the paper with those of participants.
Several general comments were made. Some of these are outlined below:
The participants were invited to comment on the specific situation in each country of South Asia.
Ms. Chandra Ranaraja, Former Mayor of Kandy
"The Sri Lankan government assistance to the poor had a head start through the Urban Housing programme in 1988. But politicians changed while bureaucrats continued. It was essential to change the attitude of the officials because they continued with the system. At present there were 800 organizations in Colombo working with women to develop awareness and problem-solving mechanisms".
Ms. S. Kiribaume
Ms. S. Kiribaume
"The rate of women's representation at national level is high but at the local level, representation is lower. There is a need to improve the quality of the representation of women as well as the status of women".
Ms. Lajana Manandhar
"In Nepal, 90 per cent of the population lives in rural areas. Although the share of the urban population in the country is very low, it is increasing rapidly and becoming very influential. Women are a neglected sector. Since 1992, after the pro-democracy movement, Nepal has seen growth of NGOs. They are taking initiatives to advance women's status in society but little has been achieved. Equal rights to property is a concept being considered in the parliament. If it is approved, it will be a great success. The gap between the haves and have-nots has been widening".
Ms. Maria Christeta Laron
"The literacy rate of women is high but is not reflected in governance. The Upper House has 4 per cent women and the Lower House has less than 10 per cent. But women's organizations have been successful in mobilizing community groups to push the political agenda".
Ms. Rahela Hashim
"After the takeover of Taliban, the situation of women become worse. There are no schools and jobs for women. Women do not go out of the house because they cannot walk out in the street. The activities of NGOs, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and the United Nations have focused on improving the level of women's education and have initiated community development programmes to improve the status of women and develop women's skills so that they can be incorporated in the government. A UNCHS Project in Afghanistan has been working on setting up women's forums and community centres to promote social development, economic activities, and literacy. The project aims at improving urban areas and building up capacity of women".
Ms.Fauzia Behram Khan
"The 33 per cent quota for women was considered but the Assembly voted against. Is it not possible for the non-government development organization sector to facilitate training of women for participation in politics? This could e done by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)*".
* A comment was made by the delegation from Bangladesh: NGOs have a non-partisan role, are none political and may not use finances for political purposes
Ms. Prabha Joseph, Chairperson, Kakinada Municipal Council
"Kerala is ahead of the other states in all other variables, but representation in urban local government is less than 7 per cent. The government has introduced the 73rd Amendment for reservation of one-third seats for women. The tenure is fixed for five years. But there are loopholes and what needs to be done is an amendment to the act to be drafted out".
Ms. Margaret Alwa, Parliamentarian and the former Minister
"People tend to think that women mayors talk too much about women. At the same time women expect women mayors to talk about women. Women mayors are put in the position to balance both expectations. There is a need for training both women in politics and women in informal organizations. This will have a joint effect to advance women's position in the decision-making process". Problems of urban management and urban planning are tied up with many factors. More women are coming into the decision-making positions through the reservation measures. Whether increasing women's representation will solve the problem or not is a question to be asked."
Prof. A.K. Premajun, Mayor, Calicut City
"Women's representation in Calicut city is 6 per cent, which is negligible. In all positions, representation is monitored. In 1995, the city organized a forum called the popular convention for the 9th National Five-Year Plan. The convention is a measure to involve the citizens in the planning process and reflect their views for the next five years. The plan was finalized in December 1996. It was submitted by the district to the state planning board. In the national plan, 35 to 45 per cent of the national finance will be given to the municipal corporations".
Ms. Kalyani Pandey, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Jabalpur
"Women in local governments need access to information as much as women in other sectors of society. Three decades ago, participation of women in urban government was a remote possibility, especially in South Asia. In the last two decades, women have participated more and more but a lot needs to be done for their active and meaningful role. The urban government deals with the problems of the common masses. These problems are related to communities which defines a household as its smallest unit. In South Asia, women are most familiar in this realm, hence, they must be included in the process of decision-making and implementation. This idea has been accepted in some parts of South Asia, and in other parts it may not have been heard at all. We must develop a three-fold strategy with a definite goal to include women in decision-making processes:
Ms. Bhavna Joshipura, former-Mayor, Rajkot City
"Training is necessary. Women who are elected for the first time, they are educated but they do not know how to work with corporations, but the issues that they deal with are very much related to women".
Ms. Kolli Sharda, Mayor, Guntur City
"The importance given to local governments differs from state to state. This is disappointing to other cooperation members. It is important to sensitize the people on the role of municipal corporations and in this process, the 73rd Amendment can be a tool".
Reforms in urban local governments were taking place and there was active political participation. The new government had formed a local government commission and had invited local governments to participate. Women's organizations were asking for reserved seats which existed before but appointments were made through an electoral college. The demand was for direct election and it has been accepted. In the past few years, women's representation has increased in local governments.
There were two types of local government in Bangladesh: urban local government and rural local government. The urban local government has two tiers: city corporation and pourashavas (municipalities) . The rural local government was three-tiered: zilla parishad, thana coordination committee and union parishad.
Women mayor's shared their experience of the reservation system and most agreed on the need for supporting elected women representatives. The experience from Kerala was also shared. In Kerala, social indicators are high but the resistance against women's participation is strong. Measures such as reservation of seats for women might not be the answer even though it is generally accepted that women mayors could take advantage by bringing new perspectives to local politics and contributing women's pragmatic and macro-micro views. The solution to the problems by women mayors can merge with those of men. Women in decision-making could create new avenues on untrodden ground. Many community issues tended to get marginalized in local politics. Women in local governments could be made more successful by promoting an inclusive, corruption free and democratic decision-making process. A forum liaising the public with policy makers was very much needed to remedy the general lack of information about plans and programmes of local governments.
The discussion paper had raised several questions, and participants responded by sharing their perspectives on the current situation in their countries. That was a valuable and important part of the process of verifying the information in the paper. It served as a framework which was used in the discussions which followed.
The facilitators had planned to divide the group into thematic subgroups for the next session. The themes were based on important issues in urban management: environment (health, security, basic services and housing); economic activities (livelihood and self-employment, savings and credit); and finance and administration (municipal finance and administration, women in decision-making). These themes were to be organized into three sessions so that participants would be able to attend all three sessions, thus enabling an all-round understanding of issues in urban governance. However, when presented to the participants, it appeared that they had strong ideas on how to best benefit from the thematic sessions given that they had only a day for this part of the workshop.
What followed was an excellent exercise in women's decision-making processes. The night before, some participants had requested the facilitator to alter the programme in such a way that there would be an even representation of all country members in each thematic group. Since the Indian mayors were the largest group, they should be encouraged to form their own separate group to discuss common issues. It was decided that such a decision should be put before the larger group the next day and to allow them the right to choose what would be most acceptable to all.
At the morning session the next day, the proposed division of groups along thematic lines, with names assigned and an alternative Indian group, was put before the group. It generated intense discussion. The mayor's group from India who felt they had come to the workshop to learn from the experiences of the other countries and to share their stories and strategies with many of the other participants. They proposed the idea of the separate Indian group be dropped.
Some participants suggested the three themes be retained but to allow everyone to choose the group they wished to join. Others felt this was too "loose" and names must be assigned to each group by a facilitator so that each group has a wider representation of non-government organizations and government organizations.
The proposal to allow participants to attend all three thematic groups was also rejected. A majority of participants felt that they wished to select the issue of interest and have in-depth discussion, so that by the end of the day they could collectively develop a number of strategies for action when they went home. A few participants felt that they would like to attend all the thematic sessions to get an idea what positions were being taken on these.
Finally, after much discussion and debate, consensus was reached:
The whole group would be divided into three thematic groups which were ;
Each participant gave her/his name to the group s/he wished to join. The group was to stay in session for the rest of the day to explore the theme as seen by various country representatives, and look at the issues raised. After lunch the same groups would meet again and come up with strategies that they could work on individually, collectively or through a regional support group. The few participants who wished to attend other thematic groups were given the freedom to do so.
A lot of energy was generated in the morning session, and the interest level was high. The exercise seemed to prove the assumptions behind the Workshop: that when women take part in decision-making, the form and structure may change but it became more inclusive and participatory.
Thematic sessions took up the rest of the day and after the lunch break participants could be seen working again in the small groups till late evening.
1 Group on environment
a. Present situation
Participants shared varied and rich experiences from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The discussion covered women's participation at three levels: state, city, communities and the informal sector.
For some the state was seen as over-controlling and actual efforts to improve housing and settlement environments were not always its priority. But it was still felt that State agencies were responsible for basic services such as housing, education, health and environment. In reality, all the country contexts suggested that people formally and informally were taking initiatives to provide services. This seemed to happen where state mechanisms and supply and maintenance systems had collapsed or where sections of the urban population affected by internal conflict had no access to municipality services.
Women need to be involved in all processes at state, community and people's groups without being considered only as implementers. They needed to be consulted and actively included at the design and planning levels. Instances were cited as in Bangladesh where women development programmes brought funds into the community and yet the women had little say in the design or implementation of these programmes. The agendas of donors, development projects and also multi-national corporations and free trade zones need to be questioned and monitored.
Within communities, concerns of women went beyond physical and infrastructural access, yet social access was limited to these. Key issues that need attention are:
b. Women and civic engagement
Women had a stake in issues affecting their environment and needed to make more active contributions in resisting negative impacts on environment, health and displacements due to development programmes. It is important to document and learn from these whenever they took place and to encourage spontaneous or situation-specific leadership of women so that urban development is tailored to people's needs.
Women in the region needed to document experiences of women leaders and leadership groups and how they had benefited the society. The increased availability of such literature enhanced the image of women as decision-makers and activists in civil society groups.
Electoral campaigning was an ideal educational opportunity for civil society and enhanced understanding of different issues concerning women and men such as economic issues as represented in International Monetary Fund (IMF), Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) and domestic violence. State/NGOs involved in training should encourage sensitization of state and bureaucracy particularly if their own links with local authorities and various urban poor sectoral groups were strong. Training programmes in political orientation, legislation and legal literacy by women's groups at urban centres were happening but the impact was limited as women were still passive.
c. Women in local authorities
Were women in local authorities different? In many cases they tended to make better use of limited funds and promoted new values. In view of the many large development projects undertaken by city governments, there was a need to devolve state power to local authorities and in some cases have legislative backing to approve and assist the projects, and ensure consultation with the communities affected.
d. Future strategies
The main focus of the future strategies should be on increasing women's participation in formal politics. Other measures included sensitizing state institutions, such as the electoral college and the election commission, through media campaigns for direct election and reservation of seats for women at all levels of government and by convening a separate women's forum which cuts across party lines as a platform for collective actions and evolving feminist perceptions of political processes. It was generally agreed that political literacy must become a priority of the government. Education syllabuses needed to be changed to involve and strengthen civic engagement. Counseling was needed in social action programmes to encourage and support women advocators. The role of media should not be limited to elections but they should work continuously on creating awareness. There needed to be space for women from all political parties to raise issues concerning women. In those countries where space for women's participation is minimal or controlled, inter-country support and regional advocacy can open up areas for dialogue.
Quite a few economic schemes had been introduced to help the poor in urban and rural areas but women have not been able to access the facilities provided. Women did not have the required skills to compete in the national and international market. There were minimal marketing outlets for their products. They faced security problems while at work, which gives them fewer opportunities to succeed in the economic field.
NGOs were playing a major role in mobilizing women through programmes such as literacy, savings and credit schemes and through providing training and basic services. Several women had the potential to enter the government system, but lacked economic support to seek elected positions.
Women were not well informed on available schemes and opportunities. In Maharashtra state of India, women had rights to land and property. There was a reservation of 40 per cent for women in all the government-introduced economic schemes. This could be a good example of ensuring women's participation in economic activities. However, in general, government input in this area has remained low.
Economic empowerment is a prerequisite to political empowerment. There was a need to provide marketing facilities and quality skills training, to introduce equitable inheritance law and to organize gender sensitization training at all levels. Awareness should be created about legal and other provisions and that information should be made available to them.
Women needed to establish a regional organization to act as a watch group, to share the information and to monitor the status of women in urban local governance. They might also act as a regional bank.
On the government side, there was a need to provide more opportunities for education especially on legal literacy, to protect women s rights. Bureaucracy was a big problem in the implementation of programmes: lack of gender sensitivity amongst officials and growth of fundamentalism had reinforced mechanisms that gave women minimum participation in decision-making process.
The following strategies were proposed to improve women's economic well being:
3. Group on Women in Administration and Finance
a. Present situation
In India, the Seventy Third and Seventy Fourth amendment served as a constitutional guarantee of women's representation in politics. But, as in other countries where opportunities for women's representation and participation existed, women had not been able to effectively utilize these opportunities. This was particularly true in the case of the informal sector and urban poor communities. The reasons were:
The planning process needed to be bottom-up. The process should reflect the concerns of the people, local bodies and women in particular. Participation of communities in decision making in the form of ward or community meetings could be ensured through legal or legislative mandate.
Basic rights must be ensured for women and access to credits should be given to women as a right. Settlement planning should involve women. There should be a regional monitoring and sharing mechanism to make local authorities' policies more transparent. Joint action among women and local authorities needed to be enhanced.
Men brought particular strengths to the political process. In government systems, women representatives were more sensitive to urban management issues and problems. They were more accessible and approachable for other women and vulnerable urban groups such as the disabled, poor, ethnic groups and minorities. They are better managers of limited resources and, if trained, had a better organizational capacity.
Decisions regarding certain specific subjects like environment, health, water, conservation, education, sanitation should involve women. Credit for women should be given to local bodies with sufficient finances.
Women must give importance to research and documentation of successful experiences in political participation.
Training programmes could be modified and improved based on those which have already been tested and proved to have positive impacts, as in Bangladesh. Capacity building of women as voters, elected women representatives, and civil society groups could sensitize women to the political process. Building awareness among women on transparency of local governance was also needed.
State funding of elections must safeguard women participants and defeat criminalization of election. The state must provide honorariums and traveling expenses to enable women s participation in political campaigns. The state must devolve a minimum of 40 per cent of finances from central government to local governments to enhance economic autonomy as a statutory provision and not as a grant.
The duration of mayorship should be sufficient to ensure efficient performance. Irrespective of the country or political situation or level of development, constitutional safeguards for women's participation in local governments needed to be provided so that no central or state government interfered in the election, finances and administration.
From the discussions and recommendations, it appeared that participants were advocating the following strategies be adopted at regional level. Some of them were of course country-specific, but the general opinion was that many of these actions could be advocated individually or collectively within the countries of South Asia.
Participants requested that ESCAP should continue to support and promote women's engagement in civic issues in the region. Women's civil society groups, politicians and local authorities needed access to information and resources as well as linkage with regional organizations like SAARC and AWAS. There were several coalitions in the region specifically set up to promote and monitor women's participation in politics but those were not always accessible. At the Workshop, only the Bangladesh group was actually interacting with a regional coalition based in the Philippines. Such information needs to be made available to all the participants of the Workshop and the participants suggested that ESCAP could play a viable role in this process.
There was a need for a comparative study on women in urban local governments in South Asia as a platform of understanding. An information base on women's participation in local governments and the listing of progressive policy reforms needed to be collated for South Asian countries. The existing regional support network for women and local governance could undertake that task. Within countries, NGOs and research institutions could collect information and give feedback to local bodies and groups.
Joint forums could be created composed of elected women representatives, NGOs and CBOs working on local governance, women's organizations and the media for sharing experiences and networking across states and regions. Women's groups in the region needed to develop a mechanism for inter-country, cross-party coalitions. This has already been successfully carried out in Bangladesh and others could learn from it.
Documentation of positive initiatives and case studies of women representatives were needed to make women in local governance visible. These efforts might be used to build a positive image and a public acknowledgment of women's roles in local governance.
In the Philippines and Sri Lanka, women played a vital role in community initiatives for accessing basic services like sanitation and housing. However, in these countries women's role in the formal government structures is not mandated by legislation. The recent bottom-up planning exercise in Kerala, India, was through a process of discussion and debate in popular conventions and ward committee meetings to ensure that planning was done according to the priorities of the communities. The creation of bodies such as ward committees was proposed as a medium to ensure accountability to the public.
The election commissions in the South Asian region must be lobbied to recruit women to local politics. Based on past experience of women in local authority level, women had tended to bring new values to local administration, as well as, less corruption and more rationalized expenditures. That would ensure proper representation of women at all levels in the region and promote participation of women in the planning process.
Training programmes for local authorities must incorporate gender sensitization at all levels. Women in local governments, even after entering the politics, needed continuous support and training to develop leadership which was accountable to people, especially to women. While strengthening the capacity of women in local governments, local authorities need continuous sensitization and awareness-raising on gender issues.
Recent action as seen in India to reserve the number of women for local government posts need to be further encouraged in other South Asian countries. While welcoming those positive changes, the local governance structure needed to be improved to ensure that the quality of women's representation becomes sustainable. To that end, it was crucial to promote financial and functional devolution of power to local governments.
Ms. Rokeya Kabir, Executive Director, Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS), House No. 255, Road No. 10A (19 Old), Dhanmondi, Dhaka 1209; Tel: 880-2-811 323; Fax: 880-2-912 0633
Ms. Tasleema Chowdhury, Commissioner, Dhaka City Corporation, House No. 46, Road No. 25, Block A, Banani, Dhaka; Tel: 880-2-870 522; Fax: 880-2-871 361
Ms. Neela Matin, Researcher, Ain-O-Salish Kendra, 26/3 Purana Paltan Line, Dhaka 1000; Tel: 880-2-835 851; Fax: 880-2-838 561
Ms. Farah Kabir, Programme Officer, Centre for Analysis and Choice, House No. 65, Road No. 6A, Dhanmondi R/A, Dhaka; Tel: 880-2-815 919/911 1026; Fax: 880-2-815 919
Ms. Margaret Alva, Ex-Minister, New Delhi
Ms. Padma Seth, NCW, New Delhi
Dr. P.K. Mohanty, Director (Urban Development) Ministry of Urban Affairs & Employment, Government of India, Room No. 220, "C" Wing, Nirman Bhavan, New Delhi 110 011; Tel: 91-11-301 7252; Fax: 91-11-301 4459
Dr. Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Mayor, Allahabad City, Nagar Nigam, Allahabad, 1 Sorajini Naidu Marg, Allahabad 211 001, Utter Pradesh; Fax: 91-532-609 895
Dr. Kulwant Singh, Executive Director, Human Settlement Management Institute, F-212 Asian Games Village Complex, Khelgaon Marg., Siri Fort, New Delhi 110 049; Tel: 91-11-649 3375; Fax: 91-11-649 3726
Mrs. Kamal Vyavahare, Mayor, Pune Municipal Corporation; Tel: 0212-323 323; Fax: 0212-324 099
Mr. T. Venkateshwara Rao, Mayor, Vijayawada Municipal Corporation, A.P.
Mr. Goutham Reddy P., Chairman, Vijayawada Municipal Corporation, A.P.; Tel: 421 525
Prof. A.K. Premajam, Mayor, Calicut Municipal Corporation; Tel: 0495-365 797/365 040
Dr. Kolli Sharada, Mayor, Guntur, GMC Guntar, A.P. 522001
Ms. Sarla Singh, Mayor, Kanpur; Tel: 0512-294 866; Fax: 0512-294 865
Ms. Suman Shringi, Mayor, Kota, Nagar Nigam Kata, Vikram Chawh, Ladapura Kata Rajasthes; Tel: 0744-26326/25329; Fax: 0744-26326
Mr. V. Sivankutty, Mayor, Trivandrum; Tel: 451 624
Ms. Saroj Singh, Mayor, Varanasi Municipal Corporation, B 23/68, Khojwa, Varanasi, U.P.; Tel: (0542) 362 700
Ms. Prabha E. Joseph, Chairperson, Kakinada Municipal Council; Tel: 743 36
Ms. Bhavnaben K. Joshipura, Ex-Mayor, Rajkot Municipal Corporation, Bhutkhana Chowh, R.M.C. Building, Rajkot 2, Gujarat; Tel: 0281-224 104; Fax: 0281-224 258
Ms. Kamala Bahuguna, Ex-M.P., 16 Nyaya Marg, Allahabad
Ms. Kalyani Pandey, Mayor, Jabalpur Corporation; Tel: 312 951
Ms. Manoi Kumar, Mayor, Shimia Municipal Corporation; Tel: 212 360; Fax: 212 899
Smt. Anju Bhargava, Mayor, Ujjain Municipal Corporation, M.P.; Tel: 550 660
Ms. Anurita Dwivedi, Executive Member, NCWI, 6 Ashok Road, Allahabad; Tel: 622 549
Ms. Vinita Bahuguna, National Treasurer, National Council of Women India, 16 Nyaya Marg, Allahabad
Ms. Ranjana Kakkar, President, CHETNA, 15 Tagore Town, Amravali, Allahabad; Tel: 609 436
Ms. Mamta Joshi, Member, CHETNA, 3, Beli Road, Allahabad
Ms. Malavika Pandev, Member CHETNA, Bank Road, Allahabad
Ms. Kalpana Dwivedi, Member, CHETNA, 6 Ashok Road, Allahabad; Tel: 622 550; Fax: 622 575
Ms. Gouri Choudhury, Coordinator, Action India Women's Programme, 5/24 Jangpura - B, New Delhi 110014; Tel/Fax: 464 7470
Ms. Revathi Narayanan, State Programme Director, Mahila Samakhya, Karnataka, 389, 1st Cross, 12th Main, H.A.L. II Stage, Bangalore 560008; Tel: 527 7471, 526 2988
Dr. Kiran Wadhwa, Deputy Chief, HUDCO, New Delhi; Tel: 649 3445; Fax: 649 2726
Dr. K. Sreeram, Director, Regional Centre for Urban Studies, Lucknow University Campus, Lucknow; Tel: 70493; Fax: 383 121
Prof. K. Sudha Rao, Professor and Head, Higher Education Unit, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, 17-B, Sri Aurosindo Marg, New Delhi 110016; Tel: 663 021
Ms. Padma Seth, Member, National Commission for Women, 4, Deen Dayal, Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi 2; Tel: 323 6203
Ms. Margaret Alva, President, Member of Parliament, KARUNA - All India Society for Women & Children, 23 Asoka Road, New Delhi; Tel: 371 0991
Ms. Dinesh Mehta, Director NIUA, 11 Nyaya Marg, New Delhi 21; Tel: 301 0489; Fax: 379 2961
Dr. Pushpa Pathak, Associate Professor, National Institute of Urban Affairs, 11 Nyaya Marg, Chamakyapuri, New Delhi 110021; Tel: 301 1510
Ms. Manju Jugnan, Director, CESRAT, 249B, Nelson, Mandela Marg, New Delhi 110059; Tel: 617 8993
Prof. Neerja Shukla, Professor and Head, DEGSN, NCERT, New Delhi 110016; Tel: 696 2459
Ms. Bala Chauhan, Journalist, Amrit Bazaz Group of Publication, Allahabad
Dr. (Ms.) H.M. Golandaz, Professor & Director, Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies, All India Institute of Local Self-Government, Sthanikraj Bhavan,
C.D. Barfiwala Marg, Juhu Lane, Andheri (West), Munbai 400 058; Tel: 91-22-620 6716; Fax: 91-22-621 1658
Ms. Prema Gopalan, Swayam Shikshan Prayog, c/o Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres, Byculla Area Resource Centre, Meghraj Sethi Marg Municipal Dispensary, Byculla, Bombay 400 008; Tel: 91-22-285 1500/283 6743; Fax: 91-22-285 1500
Ms. Sunita Bagal, Project Coordinator, Women's Development, c/o Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres, Byculla Area Resource Centre, Meghraj Sethi Marg Municipal Dispensary, Byculla, Bombay 400 008; Tel: 91-22-285 1500/283 6743; Fax: 91-22-285 1500
Ms. Girish Vaidya, Coordinator - Self Governance, c/o Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres, Byculla Area Resource Centre, Meghraj Sethi Marg Municipal Dispensary, Byculla, Bombay 400 008; Tel: 91-22-285 1500/283 6743; Fax: 91-22-285 1500
Ms. Deepak Kumar, Flat 4-5, B Wing, Ground Floor, Chandresh Mandir, 60 ft. Road, Lodha Complex, Mira Road East, Dist. Thane, Maharashtra 401 107; Tel/Fax: 811 8383
Ms. Sabita Bhattarai, Member, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, P.O. Box 10546, Tahachal, Kathmandu; Tel: 977-1-471 856; Fax: 977-1-470 303
Ms. Shashi Raut (Adhikari), Member Secretary, Women's Rehabilitation Centre, G.P.O. Box 4857, Kathmandu; Tel: (977-1) 475 815/471 104; Fax: (977-1) 471 104
Ms. Lajana Manandhar, General Secretary, Lumanti Support Group for Shelter, P.O. Box 10546, Tahachal, Kathmandu; Tel: 977-1-527 264; Fax: 977-1-534 322
Ms. Meena Raut, Ward Adviser, Ward No. 5, Lalitpur Sub-municipal Corporation, c/o Lumanti Action Group for Shelter, P.O. Box 10546, Tahachal, Kathmandu; Fax: 977-1-535 722
Ms. Shashikala Manandhar, Press Reporter, Kamana Group of Publications PVT. Limited, Kamana Plaza, Bhimsensthan, P.O. Box 2045, Kathmandu; Tel: 977-1-230 632; Fax: 977-1-227 488
Ms. Bishnu Maharjan, Ward Advisor, Lalitpur Sub Municipal Corporation, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, G.P.O. Box 8260, Kathmandu; Tel: 977-1-526 316; Fax: 977-1-521 495
Ms. Savitri Sharma, Ward Advisor, Lalitpur Sub Municipal Corporation, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, G.P.O. Box 8260, Kathmandu; Tel: 977-1-526 316; Fax: 977-1-521 495
Ms. Sarada Chitrakar, Ward Advisor, Lalitpur Sub Municipal Corporation, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, G.P.O. Box 8260, Kathmandu; Tel: 977-1-526 316; Fax: 977-1-521 495
Ms. Kanchan Surana, Ward Advisor, Lalitpur Sub Municipal Corporation, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, G.P.O. Box 8260, Kathmandu; Tel: 977-1-526 316; Fax: 977-1-521 495
Ms. Afiya Zia, Coordinator, ASR Institute of Women's Studies, Flats 5 & 6, 3rd Floor, Sheraz Plaza, Main Gulbera Market, Lahore; Tel: 92-42-575 7663: Fax: 92-42-571 1575
Ms. Fouzia Behram, Politician, Former member of the Provindial Assembly and Provincial Minister, Chakwal City, Punjab; Tel: (0573) 3272
Ms. Rukhshanda Naz, Resident Director, Aurat Publication & Information Service Foundation, T-227 Khyber Colony No. 2, Tahkal Payan, University Road, Peshawar;
Tel: (0521) 843 642; Fax: (0521) 436 19
Ms. Maria Cristeta Laron, Deputy Director, Lihok Pilipina Foundation, 102 P. Del Rosario Ext., Cebu City 6000; Tel: 63-32-254 8092; Fax: 63-32-254 8072
Ms. S.D. Sunethra Wickramasingha, Municipal Employee, Colombo Municipal Council, 171/6, Saranapala Himi Mawatha, Borella, Colombo 08; Tel: 94-1-695 599; Fax: 94-1-694 640
Ms. Sirima Kiribamune, Senior Research Fellow - Women's Studies, International Centre for Ethnic Studies, 554/1 Peradeniya Road, Kandy, Tel/Fax: 94-08-34892
Ms. Chandra Ranaraja, Municipal Councilor, Kandy Municipal Council, No. 18, Rajapihilla Mawatha, Kandy; Tel: 94-08-222 540; Fax: 94-08-225 638
Ms. J.V. Amarasinghe, Municipal Employee, Colombo Municipal Council, 610, Halgadenieya Gotatunma, Tel: 695 599
Ms. Nora Fernandez, Asian Women and Shelter Network, P.O. Box 2242, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Tel/Fax: 855-23-720 417
Dr. Vijay Kumar, Chief Training, Human Settlement Management Institute (HSMI), F-212 Asian Games Village Complex, Khelgaon Marg., Siri Fort, New Delhi 110 049; Tel: 91-11-649 3375; Fax: 91-11-649 3726
Mr. Rajeev Malhotra, Senior Fellow, Human Settlement Management Institute (HSMI), F-212 Asian Games Village Complex, Khelgaon Marg., Siri Fort, New Delhi 110 049; Tel: 91-11-649 3375; Fax: 91-11-649 3726
Ms. Mansi Jasuja, Architect, New Delhi
Mr. B. Banerjee, UP Nagar Adhikari, Allahabad
ANNEX II: Discussion Paper: Women in Urban Local
Governance in South Asia*
Urbanization and mass migration have changed the face of cities of South Asia over the past three decades. The results are familiar: cities unevenly divided between the rich and the poor, increasing land value, overcrowded settlements, inadequate services, eviction of settlers, etc.
Efforts to improve urban living for all have generally signified distinct trends: in the 1980s, development experts and urban management specialists promoted policies of enablement of low-income communities to manage and improve their settlements. Those communities which developed their own means of service provision became best practices: so began a move towards community self-development programmes. In the 1990s, there is a realization that these best practices will not necessarily multiply without a favorable political environment and the focus has turned towards 'sensitizing' and reforming state structures at local level. 'Good governance' is the buzzword involving people's participation in local government for more effective urban planning.
The women's lobby had also reached a similar conclusion: unless women are involved in the decision and policy-making processes of the state, change in women's status worldwide will continue to be marginal. Since the early part of this decade, and particularly at Beijing and Habitat II, women's role in local, provincial and national processes has been debated and defined. In urban centres, where rising poverty, political unrest and inadequate government institutions and services constitute a threat to stability, development organizations are searching for alternative solutions: new policies, revised practices, reformed structures. All marginalized groups are under scrutiny, women included.
The objective of this paper is to review the situation of women and urban governance today, halfway through the decade, particularly in South Asia. It will look at what has been taking place, with what strategies women have responded, and what regional support mechanisms are needed to further support and strengthen existing local and national processes.
The first part of this paper describes the current scenario of women's participation in urban political processes, particularly in South Asia. The second part of the paper explores some conceptual points of divergence among women's groups lobbying for increased participation in local governance. In the third part , we look at strategies that women have adopted locally and nationally, in the past few years, to increase political involvement and representation in government structures. In the final section, the paper suggests some areas for support based on what is working at local and national levels and how this can be strengthened regionally.
Local governance involves both government responsibility for the quality of life of the citizens and civic engagement in defining, managing and sustaining this quality of life through democratic, just and participatory processes. Both are processes which give the direct participants opportunities to have a stake in the division of resources of the city.
The road to such participation, however, has never been clear-cut. Powerful interest groups in every city have much to gain in making bottlenecks by which they gain advantage over others. Marginalized groups in the city such as urban poor, women, migrants, disabled, and ethnic communities rarely have the opportunity to voice their needs in such processes, without legislative support.
Governance is not gender-neutral. The traditional cultures of South Asia have always promoted male leadership in the family, household and community, and across communities. The colonizers of South Asia did not differ greatly in this basic practice, and together they evolved a national (and regional) system of governance which continues to rest in male hands, and benefit men in general. Women are excluded from decisions which dictate the distribution of incomes and property ownership, and legal and social entitlements at the family, household and community. It is not surprising then, that in most cities of the world, women constitute the largest percentage of the poorest, non-literate and discriminated groups.
Today, good governance is widely taken to mean participatory and representative governance: where all constituencies are included in the political, economic and legal planning and decision-making processes involving collection, distribution and use of urban resources for the development of the city. Good governance upholds justice, democratic processes and people's participation, involving men and women equally.
Moving towards good governance necessitates women's representation in policy-making assemblies, authorities and civic organizations. This involves not only changing political institutions to include women's proportional representation, but also 'sensitizing' others within such institutions to adopt gender-sensitive processes, policies and practices.
It is not surprising, therefore, that along with the move to make urban governance a participatory process, there have been several efforts by development agencies to correct the gender imbalance by (a) creating 'legal' spaces for women's representation in political and administrative bodies and (b) by cultivating a 'woman-positive' atmosphere within these traditionally male institutions through gender-sensitivity training programmes so that issues affecting women get due attention.
Efforts in the First World have been far more successful than those in Third World countries, in terms of actually incorporating women's perspectives and needs in urban planning. Women in India and Thailand have been able to bring about legislative change to mainstream issues of women and have generated a great deal of debate on women's participation in local government. In Central Asia, the situation of women is not so far removed from that of South Asian women.
In the Norwegian experience (Karmhus, 1996), the Leksvik municipality, with five women members and a woman mayor, undertook a project to draw up a municipal master plan, and incorporated the views of the women and needs of all sector groups within the municipality. The project succeeded not only in producing a master plan which included the opinions of all representatives of the municipality but also in mobilizing the population to actively cooperate in solving local problems.
How such a project would have fared in the context of South Asia, is an interesting question. The seven countries of the region (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) have a rich interactive history: of unity and conflict, dependence and independence, democratic and military governments, unitary and federal political structures. This pattern repeats itself even at local levels: in India local government structures are the most highly developed but they are not always uniformly practiced (some areas have a highly representative local government, but in the Union territories there is reportedly no local government (Siddiqui, 1992); there is local administration in the Maldives, but no local government. In Pakistan, local government structures exist, but as in the case of Karachi, it has been dissolved by the central government and replaced by a local administrative system headed by the Commissioner of Karachi.
Women constitute half the urban population, yet nowhere in South Asia are they proportionately represented in local government, political parties or city-wide urban associations, unless the associations are all women members only.
Where legislation has ensured women's representation in all local bodies, as in India and Nepal ( A law in Nepal law requires 5 per cent representation of women in the assembly), this has appeared to be a mixed blessing. Women's presence in national or municipal bodies does not necessarily imply a bias or sensitivity to issues facing women, or even a bias towards the poor.
In India moreover, mayors are elected for one year only, council members for five years: women as well as men elected to this position are faced with the impossible task of effecting long-term development plans while holding a short-term office.
More women contested the 1991 elections in Sri Lanka for the village council level (325) than at the municipal council level (42) and the urban council level (40). This could indicate several things: that village or community administration is closer to women's interest and capability; that the political environment is more supportive, flexible, responsive (with less chances of political violence) at this level; and that space for creativity and innovation is greater at community level.
What is of most concern is the fact that local government in South Asia continues to be dominated by rich, powerful and upper caste males (Siddiqui, 1992). For this reason, issues affecting women and marginalized urban groups stay at the bottom of the agenda. Apart from India, there appears to be no effective mechanism through which legislative controls on women's representation and participation can be protected even when such legislation has been enacted.
South Asia can boast of several women heads of state, and leaders of political parties, but they have traditionally come from the affluent ranks and relatives of well-known male politicians rather than peoples' processes. Few women are present in the decision-making bodies of political parties. Political parties traditionally have ignored issues affecting women, even though the time, labour and energy of women continue to boost party campaigns at community levels.
In many countries in the Asia-Pacific Region, development organizations have promoted local partnerships between GO, CBO and Government agencies and they have found this a viable means of promoting a bottom-up and top-down interaction between policy-making bodies and the public. In these partnerships, the involvement of women is high, but in the documentation process, they seem to become lost in the general references to 'the community' or 'the people'. This is clearly seen in the documentation of well-known cases of NGO-CBO-Government partnership in Naga City, Philippines; Surabaya, Indonesia and the Buraku Liberation League development project, Kitagata, Japan. What part of the partnership planning process actually involved women, remains unclear.
In the case of the Kitagata documentation, a small paragraph on page 16 of a 36 page report reports that: "Actually, half or often more than half of the participants of the workshops and meetings were female. They were particularly active in getting their needs reflected in the design of new public housing units". Apart from expressing needs, women's role in other parts of the process such as planning and implementing are not mentioned. The other two reports do not make any reference to women's participation.
If local partnerships are to be promoted as good governance practice, it will apparently involve a struggle for proportional representation of women in all phases and levels of urban development projects.
It is clear that at the community level, and across sectors, from the affluent to the urban poor neighbourhood, women are visible and active in social interaction. The areas of interaction may not always bring them into contact with local authorities, or with those institutions and agencies responsible for the management of the city. Yet women's associations and societies have traditionally interacted with local social welfare departments, health, education and population planning departments, etc., and provided intermediary services for outreach programmes and service delivery.
In South Asia, women within communities and at the city-level are actively involved in education, health and welfare programmes for the poor. Many of these efforts are part of religious Programmes, or welfare activities of political groups and neighborhood organization activities. Self-financed, these efforts sustain themselves for as long as the group remains active. In many low income settlements, they supplement welfare and relief services of the local welfare departments.
Depending on the political affiliation of the local municipal corporation, some of these women's' associations may be consulted in decisions relating to welfare programmes.
While laborious tasks (door-to-door visits, organizing meetings, etc.) and outreach work is usually carried out by the lower cadres of such associations, control and management of the group remains in the hands of the educated, well-connected, and relatively better-off women. Traditional patterns of societal discrimination are played out even in these arenas and urban poor women do not get to design and direct the programmes aimed at their 'welfare'.
Where men and women in poor settlements have been able to work with local authorities on area improvement, often facilitated by an outside NGO, the interaction has revealed in that both sides have learnt more about the other's attitudes, orientation and issues. In some cases, the local government consulted equally with men and women during the project (as in Kandy, Sri Lanka for the community contracts; and in Bombay, regarding the allocation of railway land to settlers). Working things out together resulted in changed perspectives and ways of relating to each other.
Such change processes are not achieved in a month or even a year; they require time, commitment and energy from all involved. Several development agencies in the region have attempted to reduce this 'learning period' and transferred the learning process to the classroom: gender-sensitive training workshops for local officials and politicians on project management, gender and psychology, gender and participatory development management processes are prolific, popular and lucrative (at least for the people involved in organizing them).
The Women In Politics (WIP) organizations in the region have several regional and national campaigns and projects to promote women's participation in politics and to sensitize government officials. It will be some time before the long term impact of these programmes becomes evident.
In current literature on urban planning and urban governance, women are generally invisible, and statistics disaggregated. Too little has been written critically from the women's perspective. Of these, a greater part represent views of women at local and national level compiled from proceedings of workshops and seminars. They provide valuable data on women's actual position vis-a-vis political processes and institutions, but only few written by Asians critique the theoretical constructs for urban governance and planning systems.
The local governance issue is not uniformly perceived by women who are actively working on this at local, national and global levels. Women politicians, activists and writers have differing values, ideologies and biases, they operate on different assumptions, apply similar strategies but achieve a variety of results depending on the basic analysis of the situation. These views are listed here as A or B, because they represent different perspectives on particular areas of local governance.
Some differences can be seen in the areas of urban management, representation and women's political roles as mentioned in the coming sections.
View A: Urban local governance is management of public spaces of social interaction and the division of resources among them.
View B: Urban local governance includes all areas of an urban locality or civil society, public and private, from the household, community, public and private organizations, political parties, employment, taxation, property and commercial legislation and control, infrastructure and services.
View A: Women in the city have common problems. Any one women's group can represent the issues of all.
View B: The conditions of all women (as of all men) are not alike. Class, religion, race and caste (despite the constitutions of all modern states) continue to create among communities, unequal access to resources, opportunities, decision-making and land. Likewise, women of different races, class, religion and caste experience disparities brought about by these inequalities as well as because of their sex. The impact of social, political and economic exclusion and marginalization can best be articulated by those who experience it, but it can be presented by those who are not only aware but who recognize that these are unjust conditions.
View A: All women are for women.
View B: Just as society has traditionally determined different roles and responsibilities for men and women, it has also influenced attitudes. All men are not for all men, or wars would not take place. The same applies to women, who adopt the biases, beliefs and behavior patterns of their social groups. Many women are disinterested in the issues facing women in marginalized groups; others may be unaware, still others may be unable to find effective ways of tackling such issues. Commitment and capacity for leadership are born of experience and values.
View A: The situation of women will improve when women get into local government.
View B: Women usually accepted in local government seats reveal similar attitudes to violence against women. But tend less to raise issues which may contradict the interests of the party they represent, or the family they hail from. Women with experience of activism and commitment to the issues of the poor, may find themselves continuing the struggle of centre-staging issues of the poor men and women.
Few male representatives would give priority to issues of women in marginalized and disadvantaged areas of their constituency. Likewise, few women representatives in local government recognize that urban poor and marginalized groups in their area face issues because of unjust government policies and programmes in the past and present, and fewer still have the commitment, capacity, information and skills to redirect such programmes.
View A: Politics may be dirty business but governance is good for women.
View B: Governance is politics. Both require the same survival skills of shrewd negotiation, determination, high level of articulation, group psychology, political strategy, knowledge of local politics, legislation and single-minded devotion to survive and succeed. Women can learn these skills through actual experience in non-party and non-government urban organizations and city-wide associations.
Affiliation to political parties does not guarantee that women will acquire these skills. Traditionally, political parties in South Asia have a large female membership. Women are generally excluded from central processes and decisions of the party which uphold male solidarity and hierarchy. A woman may get to the centre of a political party with the help of a patron but it is rare that issues of women get to the central agenda without a major struggle.
View A: Once women are aware of their rights and the need for political participation, they will act for change.
View B: Awareness itself need not necessarily lead to action for change. Women choose to act for their rights when the action is what they want, need and choose to do. Priorities and issues vary from community to community and from one group to another. Political participation may not be an immediate priority and it is more likely that women in a particular sector or community will take action on the issue of first priority. The process of collective action is a political one and provides the training ground for action at other levels.
View A: Urban poor women are not participating in civil society and need to be motivated to do so.
View B: Urban poor women depend for their survival on the support networks they create within the settlement. These networks guarantee access to emergency resources (food, child care, care of the elderly), credit for small sums of money, assistance at family feasts and at times of bereavement, security against robbery, support against violence from household members, etc. The networks serve the function they are created for: daily survival.
Apart from these networks, within most communities are informal or formal associations of religious, caste or political groups of which women constitute a large part of the labour force. Most of the associations provide for the welfare of the community. That women are not active at the leadership levels of these organizations is partly due to the generally male-dominated structures that exist and the service-oriented membership provided willingly by women.
Despite this level of civic activity and social involvement, women are generally absent from decision-making at local authority levels and in local politics. The issue appears to be not civic engagement but inclusion in central processes of urban planning and governance.
View A: Women cannot give time to political work because of the burden of domestic tasks. Their menfolk must be made to share some of the tasks of childcare and household management.
View B: In South Asia, given cultural biases against domestic work for men, wide-scale change would involve revolution. Those women who give time to political work are either from middle-to-upper income levels or those who have developed alternative support systems (with or without the assistance of male members of the family) which give them the space to take up other activities.
Mobility is another issue of women in the region, yet even here collective action and community support have enabled some women to overcome this restriction. In many countries of Asia, women active in urban politics face considerable problems from existing transport systems which are functionally unreliable and generally unsafe for women and children. Not enough data are available on how transport systems should be adapted to women's needs although the importance of such data is widely acknowledged.
Strategies adopted by women's organizations and development agencies at local and national levels have included the following issues:
A. Mainstreaming gender issues
Powerful and well-organized groups have influenced policy change when they assert their issues as problems. Most of the successes in including women's perspective in urban policies would not have taken place without a strong, well-organized force of women advocating the issue at various levels.
In South Africa, government systems were transformed to a large extent when the opportunity arose to mobilize the citizens in drawing up a new constitution. The National Coalition of Women mobilized women throughout the country to state and defend their own interests with local chiefs and community leaders. Large numbers of women were successful in obtaining seats in federal and state parliaments. In the process, women gained self-confidence in their capacity for self-expression, and men began to understand the meaning of sharing power at all levels. The Constitution declares South Africa to be non-sexist and non-racist and incorporates mechanisms to protect the gains made.
The case of Norway referred to earlier, has been well-publicized and remains a unique example of women's perspectives integrated into municipal planning. As a result, the municipal plans produced in 6 municipalities, show a shift towards 'holistic thinking', involving all sectors in the process. In India, one-third of all panchayat seats are allocated to women. A campaign began in 1994 to encourage and enable women to take such seats and this brought 125,000 women into the public arena. Here too, the struggle has resulted in increased political confidence and visibility of women.
In one Scandinavian country, women used the electoral system in local elections and formed a cross-party coalition. They then advocated a stronger women's presence in decision-making committees of the parties. Cross-party coalitions provide guidance and confidence to women isolated within their own party and promotes consensus on broader issues between women in different parties, moving away from traditional attitudes of inter-party competition and confrontation. In Sweden and in the Philippines, women have threatened to join forces and form a separate political party if their party would not take gender issues more seriously.
Raising awareness levels of politicians and government officials has been a strong focus for Thai women's groups. They have organized meetings with MPs to raise awareness on women's concerns. In these meetings, women discussed their role as agricultural producers and fishermen, and raised concerns for deforestation and women in the labour force. Networks were established at district level to create cross dialogue with women from the district areas, academicians, mass media and the NGO-Cord, but the networks are facing difficulties (Thomson, 1993). Not so in the case of Sri Lanka, where pressure groups (particularly NGOs) have been successful in bringing up issues with political parties and governments and resulted in formulating the Women's Charter (1973), setting up of the Women's Bureau (1978), Ministry of Women's Affairs (1984), lobbied successfully for three months maternity leave and equal pay for equal work for all grades.
B. Monitoring and challenging political practice
The Gender Watch group in Thailand was created to monitor new developments affecting the status of women. The Group has four regional offices, each with linkages to local organizations in their region. The main objectives of the Gender Watch groups are to generate awareness about women's issues and to promote women's participation in problem-solving in their own communities. A particular focus is the sub-district councils.
In Pakistan, women politicians demand the restoration of reserved seats for women in the national and provincial assemblies, and that women technocrats be nominated for the reserved seats. They also demand that all the political parties should put this on their agenda, and that women should be given the right to cast two votes, one for general seats and the other for the reserved seats.
In Thailand, women have asked for 50 per cent representation in the Sub-District Councils, which has always been a predominantly male institution.
C. Widening the agenda in women's organizations
At the neighborhood level, women's organizations are usually very active on welfare issues, e.g. mother-and-child health care services, adult education. Many of these groups get involved in other issues of the community such as water supply and domestic and urban violence. In some cases, forums have been set up to create opportunities for a number of women's groups to engage in dialogues and to articulate their views on issues of city-wide importance.
D. Strengthening political skills
Sponsorship of one woman by another within the party system to prepare newcomers for election reduced fears and possibilities of isolation. One successful strategy not restricted to political parties, has been the mentoring of younger colleagues by experienced female decision-makers. Valuable information on the system and culture of politics is passed on to those who would otherwise be intimated or marginalized by traditional male biases within the party. Clear channels to political careers do not exist: women who entered local government in Thailand at sub-district level, and in Pakistan and India at parliamentary level, did so at the invitation and encouragement of relatives, community supporters, women's groups and others who already constituted a political force. When the responsibility has been with them, they have been able to implement programmes to improve the situation of women, using the state machinery.
It seems that while strategies adopted by women's groups and organizations have been many and in some cases highly effective, actual change has occurred only in countries where an all-out effort was made at local, national levels, using the media, advocacy and the resources of the NGO sector to lobby consistently over several years.
In South Asia, the lobby for women's involvement in local governance has been stronger in India partly because the political climate was conducive to it. Yet there are many women's groups who have been questioning the quality of political representation by women, the issues they are raising and the impact it appears to have (or not to have) on the status of women in urban poor communities.
Women's groups in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka find their efforts in lobbying and advocacy continuously disturbed by increasing political instability and social insecurity. Nepal appears to fall apart between the two groups: closer to achieving legal controls on women's representation, but slow to build up a politically active women's constituency. Too little is known about how women in the Maldives and Bhutan see this issue, and this could be due to inadequate communication between women's groups in these two countries and those in the rest of the region.
Four main areas of local and national activity have emerged:
All four areas have required considerable networking and linking up with cross-sectoral groups. In Thailand, information and support from women in Germany continues to strengthen efforts at the national level and activists, academicians and political leaders in Bangkok lobby and communicate with women in local authorities in several districts of the country.
Regional support mechanisms which foster inter-country communication, strategizing and monitoring in South Asia in these four areas can leverage some of the local groups to positions for more effective dialogue, negotiation and action. What needs to be decided is the "how to" plan and sustain simultaneous action in all four areas within and across borders in South Asia. When we come up with a concrete action plan and take responsibility for its implementation, we will be putting on our own regional agenda, the priority of increasing women's representation at strategically important levels of local governance.
Karmhhus (Mayor) Ingebjong, 1996, Municipal Planning on Women Terms: Experiences from the Project, Leksvick Municipality, Norway.
Siddiqui, Kamal (ed.), 1992, Local Government in South Asia: a Comparative Study, Dhaka University Press, Bangladesh
Ashworth, Georgina, 1996, Gendered Governance: An Agenda for Change, Gender in Development Monograph Series, Number 3, UNDP, New York
Governance is presumed to be gender-neutral. But in fact the self-governance of civil society heavily discriminates against women as a social group. A gendered analysis of governance erases the conventional distinctions between private and public spheres, regarding them as mutually dependent spaces in which gendered norms, values and traditions are played out. Decentralization does not necessarily lead to better representation as local powers do not automatically allow in or encourage marginalized groups to participate in decision-making. Yet women are making changes to the inequalities of governance particularly through grassroots mobilization and political organization of women.
Beall, Jo, 1996, Urban Governance: Why Gender Matters, Gender in Development Monograph Series, Number 1, UNDP, New York
This paper deals with the themes of participation and partnership in urban governance on the premise that participation in political or organizational processes in the city is related to command over the resources of the city. The paper looks at gender issues in participation, responsible urban government and civic engagement. There has been insufficient recognition of how women and men use and contribute to the city in different ways, too little has been done to plan and manage cities with women. The author explores difficulties associated with incorporating a gender perspective into urban policy-making and the challenges ahead.
Brief Note on Items for Discussion at South Asian Mayors and Local Authorities Conference, April 1996, Kathmandu, Nepal
Written by the Chairperson of Kakinada, A.P., India, the note details the decentralization process in terms of functions and finance, to state and local levels. The local bodies having the power of local administration are to be strengthened in their financial position and make themselves self-sufficient to meet the financial needs for providing basic amenities to the public. Urban Poverty Alleviation Schemes will be implemented through resident community volunteers and neighborhood development committees which will act as nodal agencies. All such groups will include women representatives.
Gender Issues in Local Administration: Seminar Proceedings, July 1993, Gender and Development Research Institute and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Bangkok, Thailand
A record of the proceedings of the workshop the purpose of which was to provide a platform for women-leader activists, NGO representatives and researchers to exchange views and share experiences on improving women's participation in local government. The document presents discussions on how women elected representatives respond to needs of the female village residents, research findings of academicians and members of NGOs, strategies that have been adopted so far to increase women's participation in local administration, concluding with new directions for action.
Golandaz, H.M., 1996, Human Resource Development for Better Cities with special reference to India, Bombay, 1996
A proposal to strengthen and improve efficiency of the two million persons employed in urban local bodies in India for better city management. The proposal advocates a training Programme with a strong orientation for decentralization, geared to augment and enhance the operational and administrative competence and capability of municipal personnel in four areas: general municipal administration, project management, functional areas, resource management/development. Gender-sensitization is not mentioned.
Hatakenaka, Yokoh and Hosaka, Mitsuhiko, 1996, Settlement Development Through Linking People: a case of Kitagata Project in Japan
A documentation of the project to re-develop a large Buraku settlement in Kitagata, Japan. The study highlights the role of planners in providing technical advice and as catalysts in the community to increase local participation in the planning and implementation of the project. It concludes with a brief discussion on the reorientation of professionals, a change in community organizing strategies and the viability of relevant settlement development experiences in Asian countries.
Haque, Syeda Obaida, 1996, Urban Livelihood for Women, Shakti Foundation, Bangladesh
Urban women are employed in different kinds of economic activities and although richer women may have access to credit and other financial facilities, poor women in slums have no access either to banks or other formal financial institutions. The paper describes the Shakti Foundation experience with the Urban Credit Programme and the impact of the project on poor women's lives: rise in income, improved consumption patterns, better housing, and increased physical assets.
Aliani, Adnan Hameed, 1992, Innovative Approaches to Municipal Environmental Management, ESCAP/CITYNET, New York
This publication is the result of a CITYNET research study on urban environment conducted from 1990 to 1991 in Bangkok, Bombay, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai. The reason for deteriorating environmental conditions in urban areas of the Asian and Pacific region is not the phenomenon of urbanization, but the absence of effective governance for sustainable development of urban areas. Urban poverty therefore must be linked to a discussion of environmental conditions at the home and community levels and at city and higher levels. Various means have been utilized to incorporate people's initiatives in environmental management in the region. The study concludes with a detailed analysis on the Urban Unregulated Sector (UUS) role in waste management (collecting, sorting, recycling, and trading waste) with case studies. No mention of women's roles in waste management.
Karmhus, (Mayor) Ingebjorg, 1996, Municipal Planning on Women's Terms, Experiences from the Project, Leksvik Municipality, Norway
Leksvik Municipality was one of six to participate in the project "Municipal Planning on Women's Terms". This paper by the Mayor of Leksvik describes how the municipality went about preparing a master plan and integrated the perspectives of women and all traditionally groups into the planning process.
Kumari, Ranjana and Anju Dubey, 1994, Women Parliamentarians: A Study in the Indian Context, Har-Anand Publications, New Delhi
An analytical study of women's participation in electoral, political and parliamentary decision-making context in India. The study highlights ways to promote women's role and participation in the political decision-making process. Indian women's activism and role in political parties are given considerable attention. Several case studies of women parliamentarians present perspectives on the role of women in politics, their status in the political party and their opinions and suggestions for certain remedial measures to be undertaken in order to improve the role of women in the political process.
Ng, Cecilia, 1995, Urban Poor Women, Housing and Land Rights, Paper Prepared for International Women's Day Public Forum, Malaysia
Who are the urban poor? In Malaysia, they could be Chinese new villagers brought to the city in the 40s by the British and forced to stay in fenced settlements; migrants from neighboring countries or rural-urban migrants, mainly of Malay origin. The paper goes on to describe their occupations, location, problems they face in accessing housing and services and the state neglect to provide affordable housing to its urban poor. Five case studies of settlements tell how the people have tried to protect their rights, and the impact of forced evictions on women and children.
Nuss, S.A., 1995, List of Statistics on Women in Government, Public Sector Employment and Administration, Judiciary United Nations Agencies and Conferences.
A collection of global statistics of women's representation in government over the period 1985 to 1995. Comparative figures for all countries reveal a poor representation of women at all levels of state planning and decision-making.
Promotion of Women in Local Government, The German Experience, 1990, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Bangkok
A collection of papers presented at the conference, "Equal Opportunity Developments for Women in Local Government", Bonn, 1990. The papers describe the progress women have achieved n Germany, and the barriers to increased women's participation in local government. Issues discussed are: under-representation of women in public service despite positive legislation, positive actions taken (making the city safe for women thus increasing mobility), increasing cultural activities for women, promotion of women in public administration, measures against sexual harassment at work, and introduction of non-sexist terminology in administrative language.
Ranaraja, Chandra, 1995, Menikkumbura Re-settlement Project: A Case Study, Kandy, Sri Lanka
The case of Menikkumbura, Kandy where the local municipality, university and the residents of a community engaged in dialogue with several families who had to be relocated to Manikkumbura and worked out a set of guidelines for the provision of infrastructure. Residents were contracted and trained by the municipality to implement area development schemes.
Recent Experiences in Asia: Women's Participation in Community-Based Initiatives and Local Governance: Towards more Gender Sensitive Policies/Practice in Settlement Improvement, May 1996, Quezon City, Urban Poor Associates, Philippines
A documentation of the proceedings of the workshop, with a summary of the keynote address by Remy Rikken, Overview of Gender, Local Governance and Human Settlements. Participants from Asia analyzed roles of women in community-based initiatives (in Bangladesh, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka) in the region and came up with common issues of women in these countries.
Siddiqui, Kamal, (ed.), 1992, Local Government in South Asia: A Comparative Study, University Press Limited, Dhaka, Bangladesh
The first book on local government in South Asia based on both primary and secondary sources in which the authors attempt to delineate the major trends of both urban and rural local governments in South Asian countries in a comparative framework. Two distinct trends of decentralization in South Asia are revealed: through strengthening local government bodies, and proliferation of NGOs and privatization of services. But various open and disguised controlling mechanisms of the centre continue to enter the scene, increasing corruption and widening the gap between the rich and poor.
Skjerven, Randi, 1996, Choice and Values in Today's and Tomorrow's Planning Situation, Municipal Planning on Women's Terms, Norway
All planning is politics in the sense that it concerns decisions on how society is or should be shaped. Questions always arise as to whether the planners make the right choices of values. The paper describes the understanding of the values on which urban planning is based and the present dilemma by looking at the various choices of values in Norway since the 50s. The project "Municipal Planning on Women's Terms" incorporated women's values and interests into public planning, mobilized the population to actively cooperate in this planning process and came up with Municipal Plans which reflect a shift towards holistic thinking, thus placing other values on the agenda.
Statement of the Women and Shelter Strategizing Group at the NGO Forum, Beijing 1995
Women need to make shelter and habitat issues central to the women's agenda, the need to address women's shelter and habitat concerns with concrete commitments at community and government levels to include women's full participation in decision-making levels. A set of demands for a clear and consistent gender focus within shelter strategies by UN agencies, is put forward, concluding with recommendations for NGO participation in Habitat II..
Thomson, Sheila Sukunta, 1995, Thai Women in Local Politics: Democracy in the Making, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and Gender and Development Research Institute, Bangkok
The author advocates women's participation in sub-district administration for three reasons: women bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in planning and problem-solving skills gained from their role as primary economic household managers; are generally incorruptible and accountable, and unless they are centrally involved in planning, women's specific concerns (from employment to reduction in violence) will not be addressed fully. Thai women face difficulties in political participation through social and structural barriers. Case studies of four outstanding women leaders provide a base for analysis of barriers and areas requiring further strengthening.
Thomson, Suteera, 1995, Women in Decision-Making Positions: Politics and Administration, Gender and Development Institute, Bangkok, Thailand
Women have limited roles in national politics, in national and local administration, and in shaping of public policies which have a direct impact on their lives and welfare. There are still a number of barriers to women's advancement in government service, such as lack of support from peers both male and female and unequal opportunities in formal training and advanced education. Action by women's organizations involved dialogue between women grassroots leaders and politicians, lobbying with the government and monitoring government action. The paper concludes with a discussion on challenges for the remaining decade.
Thurdin, Gorel, The Role and Representation of Women in Urban and Regional Planning Aiming at Sustainable Development, 1994, Council of Europe Seminar, Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, 24-26 March 1994
Sustainable development requires new thinking and new actions among all those involved at all levels. It is a challenge for both men and women which requires changed attitudes and awareness of gender aspects. Regional planning is a political process. It must take into consideration the involvement of both women and men, youth, the elderly and children. The necessity of gender analysis in planning and development must be recognized. The 'public' is not neutral but consists of both men and women with different interests. Women and men should be inspired to work together for equality and sustainable development.
Women, Homes and Communities, August 1995, Background Paper Prepared for Habitat II, UN Department of Public Information, New York
A statement prepared for Habitat II Conference, 1996, which covers obstacles women face in human settlements all over the world: poverty, access to resources such as credit, property, training and technology. Housing development Programmes also discriminate against women, as do laws regarding property and land distribution. Local governments can increase women's participation in housing by strengthening relations with community based organizations and women's groups.
Women in Power and Decision-Making, 1995, an Excerpt from the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, Beijing
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to take part in the government of his/her country. The empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement of women's social, economic and political status is essential for the achievement of transparent and accountable government and administration and sustainable development in all areas of life. Yet women are underrepresented at most levels of government. They have nevertheless demonstrated considerable leadership in community and informal organizations as well as in public office. The statement includes a list of actions to be taken.
Women Shaping Democratic Change, 1992 Documentation of a Workshop in the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Bonn, 21-22 October 1992
Democratic change and social reform processes taking place in many parts of the world provide new opportunities for women to truly shape democratic change. Papers in the document include experiences of women in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Germany and collectively conclude that problems facing women are not restricted to a specific country but are a worldwide phenomenon. Issues discussed are: women and power, political activism, participation and multi-party politics in South Africa, and strategies to gain political power in Argentina.
Yakoob, Mohammad, 1996, The Political Scenario of Pakistan, Aurat Foundation, Karachi, Pakistan. 3 pages
Women in Pakistan have been virtually invisible on the political scene for several decades. This paper explores the reasons behind the low representation at all levels, the background of women who have succeeded in obtaining seats in the government assemblies, and describes the difficulties women continue to face in political participation.