UN-HABITAT's Gender Policy

Home  I   Contact

[PDF Printable Version]
Goal & Objectives
Mainstreaming Approach
Roles & Responsibilities
Appendix 1  2  3  4


Before outlining the policy on mainstreaming gender equality and women's rights, some practical issues regarding this document should be clarified for the reader. This is a policy document and not a plan of action. Thus strategies and direct activities are not outlined in this particular document, but rather the principles, objectives and overall purposes that should guide UN-HABITAT's work. The policy includes two parts: a policy document and an action plan that will develop further on the direct strategies and activities for the implementation of the Habitat Agenda with a gender perspective.

UN-HABITAT's Gender Mainstreaming Action Plan will be directly linked to the objectives and aims in the policy document. The Action Plan will have the purpose of outlining how specific goals formulated in the policy should be implemented in the field and on the ground.

The Policy document is based on two equally important objectives:

  1. Women's right to empowerment through participation in Human Settlements Development and,
  2. Gender Mainstreaming in Human Settlements Development.

These two objectives should always guide, and be mainstreamed within, the interventions planned and implemented by UN-HABITAT, and be taken into account when reviewing such activities.

Mandate and Steering documents

UN-HABITAT has a clear mandate, and is under strict requirement, to implement and promote gender mainstreaming in the international process towards equality between women and men, girls and boys through human settlements development. This mandate is clearly outlined in a number of internationally ratified and adopted documents and action plans, as well as in UN-HABITAT directly linked declarations and resolutions.

Of crucial importance to UN-HABITAT is the Istanbul Declaration with its action plan, the Habitat Agenda, adopted by the Second United Nations Conference for Human Settlements in Istanbul, 1996. This document is fundamental for all policies and policy decisions made by UN-HABITAT and its management. Its content is based upon ten goals and seven commitments for human settlements development, to be implemented by governments and stakeholders in general and UN-HABITAT in particular. As UN-HABITAT is the UN focal point for Human Settlements Development, the agenda set in Istanbul in 1996 is of crucial importance to the Programme's work.

The following commitment was made in the Habitat Agenda of 1996 and is of central importance to UN-HABITAT in all its interventions:

"(46) We commit ourselves to the goal of gender equality in human settlement development. We further commit ourselves to:

  1. Integrating gender perspectives in human settlement related legislation, policies, programmes and projects through the application of gender-sensitive analysis;
  2. Developing conceptual and practical methodologies for incorporating gender perspectives in human settlements planning, development and evaluation, including the development of indicators;
  3. Collecting, analyzing and disseminating gender-disaggregated data and information on human settlement issues, including statistical means that recognizes and make visible the unremunerated work of women, for use in policy and programme planning and implementation;
  4. Integrating a gender perspective in the design and implementation of environmentally sound and sustainable resources management mechanisms, production techniques and infrastructure development in rural and urban areas;
  5. Formulating and strengthening policies and practices to promote the full and equal participation of women in human settlement planning and decision-making."

(Chapter III, Commitments, Habitat Agenda, 1996)

Although the Habitat Agenda is of specific interest to UN-HABITAT there are several other internationally adopted and ratified documents that are crucial to promoting gender and women's rights in all societies, which should be considered by UN-HABITAT, as part of the international community. These include internationally ratified Conventions such as CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women), 1979; as well as the Beijing Declaration and its Platform for Action (1995). Based upon commitments made by all UN member states these should also guide the UN agencies in their work, as well as its Member States. (For more detailed information on CEDAW and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action see Appendix 2 and 3)

UN-HABITAT's mandate to work with gender mainstreaming towards the goal of gender equality is also outlined in a number of resolutions adopted by the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT and the General Assembly (GA) which are also worth paying attention to. (See Chapter 2, in the Gender Policy on Gender Mainstreaming in UN-HABITAT).

All of the above mentioned documents demand gender aware and sensitive work from UN-HABITAT and its staff. They demand that women's rights and the gender aspects of development in the field of human settlements development are taken into consideration in all policies, planning, and implementation at all levels. In order to abide by these demands on gender mainstreaming, respect to women's as well as men's roles and responsibilities must be taken into consideration in all activities that the Programme takes active part in. The commitment that UN-HABITAT has towards the international community is to follow these various guidelines and make sure that women and men take equal part in planning, and to equally share the benefits of programmes and projects implemented by the Programme. A wider commitment for UN-HABITAT is to facilitate an overall transformation through the adopted policy so as to strengthen women's empowerment and gender mainstreaming in human settlement development.

1.2 Policy outline

UN-HABITAT's Gender Policy is structured around three specific areas in order to clarify the policy framework and objectives for the Programme's gender mainstreaming strategy. The following three major areas will be addressed and outlined in the Gender Policy:

  1. UN-HABITAT's Gender Policy and its overall Goal and Objectives.
  2. UN-HABITAT's gender mainstreaming approach.
  3. UN-HABITAT's roles and responsibilities among staff and management.