Women’s exclusion from cities fuels poverty and inequality

Global conference calls for gender responsive public services

Women’s exclusion from the city and the economy and failure to invest in public services for women reinforce poverty and inequality, says international campaign ActionAid ahead of a global conference in Johannesburg to be addressed by UN and African Union speakers. 

The conference will hear women and youth from South Africa and around of the world share their experiences of poverty, prejudice, violence and the inaccessibility of public services and the urgent need to make cities safe for women.

The conference brings together government, citizens, civil society and youth activists from all over the world to discuss the need for gender responsive service delivery and inclusive governance and how they are crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

 Fatima Shabodien, ActionAid South Africa Country Director, said: 

 “In recent months, the world has witnessed the power of young black South African women leading the largest uprising in post-apartheid South Africa. The #FeesMustFall movement was a revolt against the commodification of education -  a basic human right and public service, that is crucial for women’s liberation, equality and the overall development of a nation. 

 “Unless governments and civil society work together to ensure public services meet the needs of all our citizens, we will continue to see our people rising up against violence, oppression and injustice.”

 ActionAid Head of campaigns, Pooven Moodley, said:  

 “This conference gets to the heart of tacking unequal societies. We need to stop violence against women and girls; make cities safe for all women; ensure they can access non-discriminatory, quality, and affordable education, health and justice; reduce their unpaid care work and support women’s economic empowerment. 

“Governments need to ensure feminist and progressive tax protocols, and in turn, sufficient financing for gender-responsive public services that respect, protect and fulfil the rights of all women.”

Korto Williams, Director of ActionAid Liberia, said: 

 “Violence against women in cities and public spaces is an urgent human rights issue and public health crisis. Women’s exclusion from the city, the economy and limited investment in gender responsive public services only reinforces poverty and inequality. GRPS is the nexus between tax justice and a commitment to women’s rights by the state, addressing practical and strategic needs of all women.

Date and time:  7–8th December 2015, 09:00 – 16:30

Venue: Sunnyside Park Hotel, Princess of Wales Terrace, Johannesburg.  

The two-day global event kicks off on Monday 8th December 2015, at the Sunnyside Park Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg. The Conference speakers will include a representative of the African Union and United Nations. 

The conference forms part of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign of No Violence Against Women, in collaboration with the Centre for Citizens’ Participation in the African Union (CCPAU), the Southern Africa Trust , UN Women and Oxfam.  The GRPS event forms part of ActionAid’s international Safe Cities for Women and Tax Justice campaigns, under its broader campaign to tackle global inequality and poverty.

The conference aims to inform different strategies to deliver gender responsive public services such as education, water, health, housing, justice and agricultural support. Collective action to influence and monitor the development of alternative approaches to improved access to quality and affordable public services is essential, particularly considering the growing trend of privatisation of essential services that are in fact human rights, enshrined in international laws and protocols, as well as constitutions and national policy frameworks. 

To request interviews and for more information contact katherine.robinson@actionaid.org Mob: +27 (0) 72 576 5297. Follow ActionAid South Africa on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. AASA is member of ActionAid International, a global movement of people working together to further human rights and eradicate poverty.