prior to 2003
Summit on Women Mayors and Councilors
Given the disparities in power between women and men and the
transformative leadership that women bring to decision-making
positions, the project focuses on examining issues and strategies
related to equal representation and participation of women in
local government and on highlighting the transformative leadership
that women bring to local government.
This interdivisional project effectively utilizes the comparative
strengths of both sections to provide technical assistance to
ESCAP members in this emerging sector. The Gender and Development
Section of the Emerging Social Issues Division of ESCAP actively
assists countries in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action.
At the same time, the Poverty Reduction Section of the Poverty
and Development Division has been active in building the capacity
of local governments to reduce poverty, through networks such
as CITYNET and LOGOTRI.
In general, women are poorer than men, not only with regard to
income, but also with regard to power in society. Even in countries
where women have narrowed the gap in income and education, they
still lag behind men in positions of decision-making. With most
governments decentralizing powers and functions to the local level,
addressing differences in poverty between women and men is increasingly
becoming a local government issue. The role of women in local
governments, therefore, has become very important.
Studies have also shown that when women reach positions of decision-making,
in local governments, they change the development agenda by bringing
in new issues and approaches that focus on community and people-based
development. Their management and decision-making styles are also
more consensus oriented and inclusive. UNIFEM calls this “Transformative
Leadership.”The disparities in power between women and men
were highlighted at Beijing in 1995.
The core funding for all phases of the project was provided by
the Government of Japan through JECF. Phase I of the project was
regional in nature, involving a total of 24 countries, while Phase
II focused on country-level follow-up in 5 countries.
Phase I had four key outcomes. The first outcome was the preparation
of the Reports on the State of Women in Local Government in 14
countries of Asia and the Pacific. These were the first-ever comprehensive
and in-depth analyses of issues related to women in local government.
In addition to the analyses, each report also developed a database
of people and organizations involved in promoting women in local
government. They also compiled profiles of successful women in
local government to highlight their transformative leadership
in each country.
The comparative analysis of the 14 country-reports was presented
at the first-ever Asia-Pacific Summit of Women Mayors and Councillors,
which was held in June 2001, at Phitsanulok, Thailand. About 250
women mayors, councillors, ministers, members of parliament, academics
and civil society activists participated at the Summit. To ensure
the widest possible media coverage of the Summit, ESCAP and UNIS
developed a targeted media strategy. As a result, the Summit and
its outcomes were widely covered by international and national
The choice of Phitsanulok, as the venue of the Summit, was also
strategic. Phitsanulok Municipality is headed by the longest serving
and most successful woman mayor in Thailand.
The major outcome of the Summit was the Phitsanulok Declaration
on the Advancement of Women in Local Government. The Phitsanulok
Declaration called for the establishment of a regional resource
facility on women in local government and the organization of
national summits of women mayors and councillors. The purpose
of the national summits was to prepare national action plans and
establish national networks and resource facilities on women in
local governments. The Declaration also called for increasing
the number of regional and national capacity building programmes
on women in local government.
The first phase of the project ended with the establishment of
the Regional Information Resource Facility on Women in Local Government.
The Resource Facility is co-hosted by the Centre for Women’s
Studies and the Centre for Local and Regional Governance of the
University of the Philippines. It serves as a regional information
clearing house and advocacy agent on issues of women in local
government. Phase II of the project focused on assisting 5 countries
in organizing national Summits of women mayors and councillors.
The Pakistan Summit adopted the Rawalpindi Declaration, which
established a national network of district-level resource centres
for women councillors to assist them in performing their duties
The Philippines Summit adopted the Manila Declaration, through
which the Lady Local Legislators League was established and operationalized.
The League’s main functions are to advocate issues of women
in local government and to promote gender mainstreaming in local
The Sri Lanka Summit adopted the Colombo Declaration. A key outcome
of the Summit was the setting up of a network of governmental
and non-governmental institutes and organizations involved in
capacity building of women in local government and in gender mainstreaming
in local government.
The Bangkok Declaration adopted by the National Summit in Thailand,
established the National Network of Women in Local Government.
The network’s key activities in 2004-2005 will be to encourage
more women to stand in local elections and to publicize the transformative
role that women play in positions of decision-making.
Phase III of the project is on-going and follows-up phase II
by focusing on capacity-building-needs identified by the national
summits. It assists participating countries in developing and
testing training materials on the advancement of women in local
government. Training materials are being prepared in the Philippines,
Sri Lanka and Thailand. Based on the experience of preparing the
training materials, guidelines will be developed for other countries
on how to prepare such training material. We expect to complete
Phase III by the middle of 2004.
Dates of Summits:
Philippines: 13-15 May 2003
Pakistan: 26-27 July 2003
Sri Lanka: 26-27 August 2003
Thailand: 2-3 October 2003
URL address: <www.decentralization.ws/rirf/>
High-Level Meeting in Preparation for Istanbul+5 for Asia and
Five years after the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements
(Habitat II) in Istanbul, the UN General Assembly met to review
and appraise the implementation of the Habitat Agenda in June
2001. In preparation for this session, ESCAP and UN-HABITAT, in
collaboration with The Urban Governance Initiative, the Asian
Development Bank, the WHO’s Western Pacific Regional Office
and CityNet, organized a Regional High-Level Meeting for the Asia-Pacific
region from 19-23 October 2000 in Hangzhou, China. The Ministry
of Construction and the Municipality of Hangzhou hosted the meeting
which was organized around six key areas of the Habitat Agenda:
Poverty, Environmental Management, Economic Development Governance,
Shelter and International Cooperation. In the spirit of Habitat
II, representatives from national and local governments, NGOs,
research and training institutes and the private sector participated
in the meeting which was attended by 157 participants from 22
The objectives of the meeting were to (a) to look back and review
the experiences since Habitat II and to draw lessons for a common
regional perspective, (b) to look forward, identify the challenges
ahead and develop ideas on how to address these challenges, and
(c) to discuss and recommend regional and international support
mechanisms for the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. After
the presentation of an overview paper on Istanbul+5 and five background
papers of the themes of the Meeting, four stakeholder symposia
were convened, for national governments, local governments, non-governmental
organizations, and research and training institutes.
The symposium of national governments reported positive developments
in the shelter sector, with the adoption of more realistic building
standards, an increase in public-private partnerships and community-based
approaches to low-income housing. Some policies such as the resettlement
of rural households to reduce rural-urban migration and urbanization
had, however, failed. Governments were decentralizing powers and
functions to the local level, but decentralization of financial
powers remained limited. Inroads in poverty alleviation had been
made through the empowerment of the poor, a focus on women in
poverty alleviation and increased stakeholder participation in
local decision-making, but more needed to be done.
The symposium of local governments felt that the roles, powers
and functions of different levels of governments needed clarification.
Resources and decision-making had to be devolved to the local
level. Through an appropriate legal framework, capacity building
and human resources development, local governments should be empowered
to address urban issues. Security of land tenure was critical
for housing the poor, but local governments lacked power to acquire
land. Similarly, cities in the region faced environmental problems,
but local authorities lacked the capacity to enforce environmental
laws. They were also unable to promote local economic development
by a lack of resources and the absence of a legal framework to
mobilize them. To alleviate poverty, local governments needed
to increase their support to community-based organizations and
non-governmental organizations that work with the poor, especially
with women. Multi-stakeholder coalitions should monitor and evaluate
actions towards urban governance.
The symposium of non-governmental organizations focused its attention
on the process of implementation of the Habitat Agenda which they
did not see as a people's agenda. It had been drafted and approved
by national governments, and many stakeholders were unaware of
it. The Agenda needed to be localized and its implementation institutionalized
by the creation of Habitat Committees at national, sub-national
and municipal level. The Agenda was quite comprehensive, but new
issues (globalization, international debt, indigenous knowledge,
corruption) had emerged. The Agenda had to be made more readable
and understandable. There was concern that Istanbul+5 was a session
of the General Assembly where civil society would not be represented.
NGO views were often not included in the national reports and
reported progress differed from reality. Greater transparency
was needed in the review of the implementation of the Habitat
Agenda, and the country reports should be the result of a broad
consultation process with involvement by all stakeholders. Audits
by actors not involved in its implementation, should be incorporated
in the monitoring and reporting on the progress in the implementation
of the Habitat Agenda.
The symposium of research and training institutes identified
the need to critically analyze and document "best" and
"worst" practices. Clients needed to be identified so
that the research results could be used in policy development
and programmes. Many issues had already been researched and findings
had to be disseminated to decision-makers in the government and
civil society. In this respect, the symposium asked ESCAP’s
assistance in developing and hosting of a regional portal website.
Because training needs were constantly changing, institutes should
determine the needs before building training programmes. Government
officials needed to change their attitude, become more entrepreneurial
and manage the assets of the local government more effectively.
They should learn to work in a participatory way and develop the
ability to understand the realities of cities.
In the subsequent plenary session, participants cautioned against
over-reliance on poverty alleviation in slums and squatter settlements,
as urban poor who did not live in such settlements would be excluded.
Considerable efforts were necessary to re-educate people to change
their attitudes and reduce consumerism and wasteful behavior.
Participants agreed that policy makers, researchers and civil
society did not fully understand the implications of globalization
and its impacts on economies, societies, cultures, cities and
the poor. Methodologies and indicators were needed to audit governments
on good governance and measure progress in the implementation
of the Habitat Agenda. However, there were not only problems in
the cities of Asia and the Pacific, but also many initiatives
to find solutions. A better use should be made of these solutions
through the sharing of experiences at regional level through existing
regional networks like CityNet and LOGOTRI.
The last decade had been the decade of UN conferences. The UN
should make the current decade the decade of implementation and
assist countries in implementing the recommendations and actions
of all world conferences held in the 1990s. There was a need for
more regional cooperation to further the implementation of the
Habitat Agenda. UNESCAP and UNCHS should increase their activities
to assist countries in the implementation and reporting of the
Habitat Agenda through seminars and advisory services.
The “Living in Asian Cities” paper was prepared to
set the stage for discussions at the second Asia-Pacific Urban
Forum held at Bangkok from 11 to 15 March 1996. The paper addresses
the need for a retrospective look at “where we have come
from: a historical perspective and major trends”, followed
by an examination of “How cities function and the need for
a new approach to policy formulation”. Current macroeconomic
change and their impact on the poor is the subject of the third
paper and fourth is a forward-looking paper dealing with institutional
change” The new urban contract”.
The Second Asia-Pacific Urban Forum
The forum was attended by representatives of national and local
governments, multilateral and bilateral agencies, non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, and the private sector
from 33 countries in the region.
Participants were invited to mount an exhibition of projects
or ideas that they felt would be of interest to other participants.
In an attempt to capture the sensation of life in Asian cities,
more than 30 exhibits were displayed admit a bazaar organized
by various civic groups in which handicrafts and other goods prepared
by disadvantaged communities were available.
Discussions at meetings building up to the Forum had indicated
that the economic and social transformation that was taking place
in the region, the problem of extensive and growing urban poverty
and the need for a reappraisal of the role of the government were
among the concerns that member countries felt should be the focus
of the Forum and, about a year prior to the Forum, the secretariat
convened a brainstorming session to determine the content of a
discussion apepr4 for the Forum. The group comprised some of the
region’s most prominent thinkers on human settlements an
housing issues, including people from governments, multilateral
and bilateral agencies, NGOs, and academic institutions- largely
people who were closely involved in working with the urban poor.
The link below takes you to the Paper on “Living in Asian
Cities, No 1, Where We Come From: Historical Perspective and Major
to Paper on Living in Asian Cities
of Rural Success Cases
Success Case Replication (SCR) is simple. It has two main steps;
(a) A locate farmers, or groups, who have achieved good success
in their enterprises and (b) Mobilize the successful farmer or
groups to train their less well off fellow villagers.
It differs from conventional enterprise training because it mobilizes
successful farmers, or groups, to train rural poor. It does not
depend upon professional or government trainers to conduct this
SEEN in terms of measurable results for rural poverty alleviation,
this project was remarkably successful. It generated an average
income gain of $449 per annum for each of 2 359 rural farm households,
who now command sustainable enterprises, expected to yield income
into the foreseeable future. The methodology has generated, on
average, 12 US dollars of net income for each dollar of agency
costs. It has proven to be well adapted to local conditions because
it uses existing local success cases for replication.
Documents available for download
1 - Success Case Replication: a manual for increasing farmer
household income (pdf file: 420
kb; MS Word file: 260
2 - Cost-effective employment promotion for the rural poor (pdf