10 September 2021 | UCLG ASPAC presented the outcome of the report on “The Role of Culture in Achieving Gender Equality” on the plenary session “Promoting Local Actions on Culture and Gender Equality,” organised as part of the UCLG Culture Summit and hosted by Izmir Municipality, Turkey.

Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, Secretary General of UCLG ASPAC, chaired the session and participated virtually from Kathmandu.

In her keynote speech, Ms. Farida Shaheed, former UN Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights, emphasised that there is no future unless there are sustainable cities and that sustainable development is only possible if social, economic, cultural, and environmental dimensions meld together. From the initiatives taken by municipalities and local authorities, she noted that gender inequalities are universal but culture parameters differ. Some of the key points she highlighted were: 1) public institutions must be explicitly committed to gender equality; 2) local authorities need the full participation and ownership of residents in changing and reshaping cities; 3) multifaceted collaboration is important across entities and actors for increased success; documentation and data analysis is vital; 4) and acknowledge and address disparity of gender and digital connectivity. She concluded by stating that women’s rights in the city will only be realised when the city reflects realities and aspirations.

Centres for women and children were created in the districts of Merkezefendi Municipality focused on the education and health. Mayor Şeniz Doğan of Merkezefendi Municipality presented that women cooperatives were also initiated to generate employment and help women gain economic freedom.

Mr. Nicola Khamis, Mayor of Beit Jala, stated that tradition and culture must not be a barrier to women empowerment. He also noted that gender equality and culture prosperity need constant multi-stakeholder engagement.

Ensuring public finance for women and projects produced by women was underscored by Ms. Carine Rolland, Deputy Mayor of Paris for Culture. She also mentioned the efforts to make women more visible in art history.

In her video message, Ms. Luciana Blasco, Councillor for Culture of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, shared how they are taking serious and strong steps to support gender equality.

Ms. Sybilla Britani, Network Manager of the EU National Institutes for Culture, remarked that they have been advocating for the permanent role of culture in international relations. She stressed the need for broader partnership at the local level by bringing other voices including civil society organisations and cultural operators to co-create and co-deliver actions. She recommended enabling transnational exchanges between women and promoting capacity building and women’s empowerment.

The willingness to work with local governments was expressed by Mr. Gabriel Caballero, ICOMOS Focal Point for SDGs. Among the recommendations he noted were to: 1) highlight the public and non-stereotype roles of women; 2) ensure all genders can access and enjoy heritage; 3) involve all genders equally in all aspects of heritage; and 4) modify/discard traditions and practices which are considered locally as discriminatory through a transparent process.

The 4th UCLG Culture Summit was held on 9-11 September 2021 hosted by the Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir with the title “Culture: Shaping the Future”.  For more information, visit: https://agenda21culture.net/summit/uclg-culture-summit-2021