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Tahmina: An Explorer of World Urban Forum 7

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 10:39

This week I'll be posting views young participants at the World Urban Forum 7. The event convened by the UN-Habitat and hosted by the Government of the Republic of Colombia and the Municipality of Medellin held this year is a memorable and insightful gathering. Todays post is written by Tahmina Hug.

Tahmina has over 8 years experience working on women’s rights issues, specifically around violence against women and Girls within the international / national development sector. At present she is working as Manager of Women’s Rights unit of ActionAid Bangladesh.

This is her view:

In the morning of 10 April when I woke up felt very fresh.  And I remembered  the yesterday night that I call ‘women night’. The team of AA had a dinner in a Colombian restaurant and celebrated  our session.  As usual having breakfast I and Anima started for Mayor Plaza by a taxi cab. On our way I saw big banner and bill board of WUF7, the commitment for ‘Urban Equity for Development and cities for life’. It gives me an image that the city is celebrating the event. I wanted to talk to taxi driver to know about local people‘s aspiration about the issue of forum/what his feeling about the forum and it was difficult for being an non Spanish language people.

From the main gate to different pavilion, halls and also in the corridor and passage there are a lot more things  going on with full fledge of ceremony. Formal discussion, informal gathering, video show, distribution of  leaflet brought multi country people together.  All the discussion revolved  around  ‘City’.  To  enjoy the savor I bought a yellow tea shirt with the logo of WUF7. Then I had a gallery walk in green pavilion and different stalls.  Some message fascinated me a lot ie ‘The urban development decision we make today will be seen across the faces for cityscape for generation to come’.  I spent some time in Heritage strategies international stall that work for heritage conservation and economic development.  Their areas of work are in policy development, onsite technical assistance, workshop and training courses and research.

It was also an effective meeting with    Md Golam Rabbani, secretary in charge , Ministry of Housing  and Public Works and Dr. K.Z Hossain Taufique, Deputy Director , Urban Development Directorate  in Bangladesh. I discussed about the Safe City programme and campaign.  They expressed interest to be engaged with our (SCP) and keen to learn more. It was amazing to meet mayors of different cities across the globe.

I took part in the session entitle ‘City prosperity and Equitable Urban development ‘in the  ‘City Changer Room B’  at  12:15 to 13:15 .  In this session there were three penal discussants.  Mr. Gora Mdoup, Ph.D, Chief , Global Urban observatory has given  presentation on ‘Urban  planning , Streets and urban prosperity’ that basically focused on  definition of city  and urban prosperity , city periphery  and how to ensure equality. He explained that urban prosperity must   be holistic, poor centric, sustainable and inclusive that is needed for city of 21st century in a more compact form. City plan should have balance of lower energy cost, greater heterogeneity and functionality, safeguard against new risk, higher provision of public goods .   Considering urban expansion he emphasized on land and space for citizens right. He gave importance on good governance and cultural structural problem. The next speakers   Dr. Magued Ossman  from Egypt  gave presentation on ‘Formal Vs Informal development  and causes of inequity’ .  He said 97% of revenue collected by national government while local government far behind in collecting revenue and spend as well. He noted on quality of life, infrastructure, environment sustainability and equality under the banner of productivity. Finally he urged on ‘linking the state of city in National government city plan’.  In this session ‘Sohag City’ is discussed as an case study.

I was a bit keen to know about the initiatives regarding specific need  of girls and women  to ensure right to city life and to me it seems a missing area . 

The AAB team met in café . A group of people who are the representatives of Oil Company in Colombia joined with us. We shared the importance of building of multi stakeholder network for Safe city for women and girls.

After lunch I have attended the session ‘Achieving Urban Equity in development with and for Adolescent girls’  in City Change Room  A at 14:45 to 15:45. The session started with the experience sharing  of two young ambassadors from African country  and stakeholders from their country. One of local government official was talking about the importance of ‘culture’ and sometimes how policy and laws based on their culture. To me it sounds like a debatable issue as culture under patriarchy is most of the cases creates impediment towards freedom of women and girls. So after session I asked him that ‘ Do you think all cultures are in favor of women and girls right ? Should we not challenge those culture which are creating discrimination against women and girls?’  After few minutes discussion he agreed with me and changed up his mind.

I felt that to pitch issue there is no alternative to dialogue and networking. So let’s speak and share to each other.