Local government is the only level of government where women can
enter political life with relative ease. The issues at the local
level tend to motivate women to enter politics and the comparative
costs of mounting an election campaigns are low. Local governments
are good training grounds for women wishing to reach higher levels
of elected or appointed office in government. Furthermore, women
in decision-making positions in governments and legislative bodies
provide "transformative leadership" by redefining political
priorities, placing new items on the agenda and providing new perspectives
on mainstream issues.
Some countries of the region have already taken positive measures
to promote the participation of women in government and decision-making
processes. Nowhere in the region, however, are women equally represented
in local government, political parties or urban and rural associations,
unless these are women-oriented by nature. Even in countries with
good opportunities for women's representation and participation,
women have not been able to utilize them effectively. The reasons
vary: patriarchal social systems, social and cultural prejudices,
financial dependence of women, lack of training opportunities for
women, family and child-care responsibilities, the high cost of
seeking and holding office and corruption in politics.
Concerted action at the regional level is required to promote the
advancement of women in local government. The United Nations Economic
and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Network
of Local Government Training and Research Institutes in Asia and
the Pacific (LOGOTRI), have prepared Reports on the State of Women
in Urban Local Governments for 14 countries of Asia and the Pacific.
The Government of Japan and the South East Asia Gender Equity Programme
of the Canadian International Development Agency (SEAGEP-CIDA) provided
funding for the studies. The Summit of Women Mayors and Councillors
is convened to discuss issues brought out in these reports and to
chart out future regional actions to promote the participation and
representation of women in urban local government.
1. To increase the awareness of the transformative role women
play in local government and the challenges and constraints they
face while working with and leading local governments.
2. To discuss follow-up regional strategies and actions to promote
the participation and representation in local governments.
Structure of the Summit
The Summit will consist of plenary sessions, sub-regional focus
group discussions and various symposia on emerging and critical
issues. In the plenary opening session on the morning of the first
day a Regional Overview Issue Paper will present opportunities and
constraints for the participation and representation of women in
urban local government, emphasizing their transformative leadership.
These issues will be discussed in detail during three sub-regional
focus group discussions during the afternoon and the morning of
the next day. The sub-regions are: South Asia, South East Asia and
East Asia and the Pacific. Each sub-regional group would be required
to report back to the plenary on the afternoon of the second day
on three questions: (1) whether the issues outlined in the Regional
Overview paper accurately reflect the issues of participation and
representation of women in local government in their sub-region,
(2) what actions are needed in the country level to promote the
participation and representation of women in local government (3)
what regional support mechanisms are needed to support actions at
the country level.
The third day of the Summit will be devoted to eight half-day symposia
on selected issues of concern. Each participant will be able to
attend two symposia, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. The
symposia will cover two categories of issues: issues on gender and
development and issues on urban management and governance. Issues
covered include: (1) Access of Women to Information Technologies,
(2) Preventing Violence Against Women in Urban Areas, (3) Community-based
Income Generation for Poor Women, (4) Gender Budgeting, (5) Gender
Considerations in Urban Water Distribution in Slums and Squatter
Settlements, (6) Characteristics and Indicators for Good Governance,
(7) Integrating Waste-Pickers into the Formal Solid Waste System
of Cities and (8) Promoting Regional Cooperation and Exchange of
Best Practices Between Cities and Towns.
Concurrent to the symposia, the officers of the three sub-regional
group meetings will meet on the third day together with the secretariat
staff and draft the "Phitsanulok Declaration on Advancement
of Women in Local Government." The draft declaration would
outline, major issues, strategies for addressing the issues and
regional support mechanisms needed to tackle the issues.
On the fourth and last day of the Summit, participants will review
the contents of the draft declaration and adopt the amended declaration.
Figure 1 provides a schematic illustration of the structure of the
Figure 1: Schematic illustration of the summit
A total of 150 to 200 participants from countries of Asia and Pacific
including Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan,
Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka,
Thailand and Vietnam are expected to participate at the Summit.
In addition to elected and appointed women in local governments,
high-level representatives of national and sub-national governments,
political parties, NGOs as well as academics and researchers working
on women’s empowerment and on urban issues are invited to participate.
International donors and specialized UN agencies will also be invited
to attend in the Summit.
Dates and venue
The Summit will be held at the Amarin Lagoon Resort <www.amarinlagoon.com>,
Phitsanulok, Thailand, from 19 to 22 June 2001. For more information
on the city of Phitsanulok please visit their web site <www.phsmun.go.th>.
Participants are expected to arrive on 18 June 2001 and depart
on 23 June 2001. Phitsanulok is 50 minutes by plane from Bangkok.
There are several daily flights between Phitsanulok and Bangkok.
The Summit is organized by the United Nations Economic and Social
Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in collaboration with
the following agencies and organizations: United Nations Development
Fund for Women (UNIFEM); the Regional Network of Local Authorities
for the Management of Human Settlements (CITYNET); the Asian Development
Bank; The Urban Governance Initiative (TUGI) and the Asia-Pacific
Gender Equality Network (APGEN) executed by UNOPS and UNDP; and
the Network of Local Government Training and Research Institutes
in Asia and the Pacific (LOGOTRI). The City of Phitsanulok, Thailand
is the host of the Summit.
Costs of participation
A special conference package has been arranged with the hotel.
The costs of single room accommodation, 3 meals, 2 coffee breaks
is US$ 35 per person per day. There are no fees for participation.
ESCAP has limited amount of partial sponsorships available to assist
participants from the 14 participating developing countries.
For further information please contact:
Mr. Yap Kioe Sheng
Human Settlements Section
Population and Rural and Urban Development Division
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
United Nations Building
Rajdamnern Nok Avenue
Tel: + 66 2 288 1600
Fax: + 66 2 288 1097