International Women's Day

IWD: Melbourne

How the City of Melbourne is bringing Gender Equity to life.

Considered one of the most livable cities in the world, Melbourne is celebrated for its restaurants, culture, sports and universities. In order to deliver its promise of “endless possibilities” to all residents, city officials created a number of policies and plans that seek to make Melbourne equitable for all, especially women, girls, and gender diverse people. 

Through the city’s Inclusive Melbourne Strategy, Gender Equality Action Plan and Women’s Safety and Empowerment Action Plan, the City of Melbourne is working with communities and cross-sector stakeholders to advance and localize the Gender Equality Act of 2020.

For example, under Theme 1 of the Women’s Safety and Empowerment Action Plan, “Advancing Women and Gender Diverse People’s Leadership and Participation in the Economic, Social and Civic Life Across the Municipality”, local officials are creating place names to celebrate notable women who have impacted Melbourne, piloting free period care products in public facilities and working with the private sector to question and address toxic gender norms in different sectors. 

In another theme “Promoting the Safety of Women and Gender Diverse People in our Communities and Public Spaces”, the city is working to address safety concerns in different places around town. The “women who walk” project brings walking groups to parks to discuss how these green spaces can be more accessible and welcoming for female residents. And “Project Night Justice” is a campaign to help make Melbourne’s streets safer after dark. 

The action plan also aims to “Engage Men and Boys to Shift Unhealthy Norms of Masculinity and Condoning of Violence”, by educating boys and men to treat others with respect and care. The City of Melbourne also brings in other actors under its final theme “Achieving Sustainable Primary Prevention for our Municipality” by working with local community groups to develop their own gender equity programs. 

Listen in as Nancy Pierorazio, Senior Policy Officer Diversity and Equality in Melbourne, introduces her city’s Inclusive Strategy and Women’s Empowerment Plan at the 2022 CHANGE Annual Summit. 

Nancy Pierorazio, Senior Policy Officer Diversity and Equality in Melbourne, introduces her city’s Inclusive Strategy and Women’s Empowerment Plan
International Women's Day

IWD: Freetown

Placing women at the heart of Freetown

From water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), to food systems and marketplaces; Freetown carefully positions women at the heart of the city’s programming. Despite leading the capital city of one of the lowest ranking countries in the Gender Equality Index, Mayor Aki-Swayerr knows that with an intentional approach, she can improve the lives of the women and girls in her city. 

City leaders in Freetown have been taking stock of the challenges the city faces, and considering how this impacts women and girls specifically. In one instance, municipal leaders were confronted by the harassment of young girls at water stations in the early hours of the morning, when they collected water for their household’s daily use. In another case, they saw young children spending idle days around the city while their mothers worked. Or in a final example, they saw how COVID lockdowns disproportionately impacted women who could no longer sell or buy food while the city struggled with hunger and instability. 

To respond to this, municipal leaders have adjusted programs and policies in their city – including flagship efforts like “Water 4 Peace” with UNCDF, and “Freetown The Treetown” with the World Bank.  For example, by positioning women as the gatekeepers of water stations, the city has created new livelihoods for women, while also safeguarding young girls who come to them for collection. In another example, the Mayor created early-years learning centers inside marketplaces, for women who work nearby to send their children to school while they focused on their business with more peace of mind. And by bringing women into a COVID-era urban farming program, municipal leaders offered peace and food security to entire communities, while positioning women as key actors in this program and offering them new livelihoods after lockdown.  

During CHANGE’s 2022 annual summit, Manja Kargbo, Head of Mayoral Delivery Unit in Freetown, explains her city’s approach to supporting women and girls.

Manja Kargbo, Head of Mayoral Delivery Unit in Freetown, explains her city’s approach to supporting women and girls.
International Women's Day

International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day!

What are local leaders doing to advance gender equity around the world?

From delivering basic services – like health and education – to testing and scaling innovative pilot projects, Mayors and their teams touch the lives of citizens every day. Increasingly, local governments are delivering gender equity in order to build more resilient cities and fairer societies. 

Removing barriers to the full participation of women, girls and gender diverse people in our communities is not only a moral imperative, but also enables cities to function better for everyone. The member cities of our network prove this when they put gender equity at the top of their priority list everyday. By reducing, recognizing and redistributing the burden of unpaid care, local governments are enabling millions to re-enter and contribute to the local economy. By urging a range of stakeholders – from businesses to bus drivers – to help make nightlife safer, mayors are allowing more women to work, dance and move around after dark. By building schools and daycares near workplaces, policy makers are making it easier for women to focus on their businesses and careers, all while delivering quality education to the next generation. CHANGE cities know that investments in women are also investments in everyone around them.

As our mayors and urban planners strive to create more equal cities around the world, we work with them to collaborate and learn from one another, to build best practices together, and keep gender equity at the heart of local and global politics every day.

This International Women’s Day, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the work that local leaders are doing to advance gender equity.

In this series of presentations, representatives of Barcelona, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Freetown, Melbourne, and Mexico City share their experiences promoting gender equity in their hometowns.

How are CHANGE Cities Delivering Gender Equity?

Barcelona‘s Gender Justice Strategy

Safe access to water, sanitation, food and school in Freetown

Bogotá‘s CareSystem

Melbourne‘s Inclusive Strategy, Gender Equality Action Plan & Women’s Safety and Empowerment Action Plan

Buenos Aires‘ Public-Private PARES

Zero tolerance & Zero Impunity for Gender Based Violence in Mexico City

International Women's Day

IWD: Buenos Aires

Closing the Gender Gap Buenos Aires with PARES

Buenos Aires has applied a gender lens to their urban planning since the 1989. More recently, the city has rolled out a unique indicator system, El Sistema de Indicadores de Género BA (SIGBA), which measures physical safety, economic autonomy, and decision-making powers to understand the state of gender equity in the city. In place since 2017, this tool has helped local officials develop a clearer understanding of gaps and challenges for their female residents, and advance women’s rights through public policy. This information is used across the municipal government, and feeds into the three strategic goals of the Secretary for  Gender Equality : i) tackling violence against women and girls, ii) caregiving, and iii) economic autonomy. A public-private program, PARES, has since been developed to support the latter of the three.

PARES seeks to promote the role of women in the labor market by helping companies and organisations increase the number of women in their ranks, reduce their gender pay gap, promote women into decision making roles, and instill a healthy work-life balance. Drawing from the success of SIGBA, PARES shares essential data with companies, like a gender gap diagnosis, to help them understand what they need to address in order to become a more equitable workplace. PARES then offers a full suite of support and incentives ranging from the development of a gender equity action plan, training, exchanges between companies, progress reports and public positioning.

In her presentation at the 2022 CHANGE annual summit, Lara Jedwabny, Adviser for International Affairs in the Secretary for Gender Equality, explains how PARES works and why 80 companies have already signed up for this exciting program, and nearly 100 more are expected to join.

Lara Jedwabny, Adviser for International Affairs in the Secretary for Gender Equality, explains how PARES works.
International Women's Day

IWD: Bogotá

The Care System in Bogotá: “Caring for those who take care of us”

The city of Bogotá has developed a motto: “Caring for those who take care of us” and it is brought to life through the award-winning Bogotá Care System program. 

Mayor Lopez was struck by the number of women suffering from “time poverty” in her city. 1.2 million women dedicate all their time to caregiving jobs that they are not paid for. Of those women, 90% are low-income, 70% don’t graduate from high school, 33% can’t dedicate attention to personal projects or interests, and 20% have been diagnosed with an illness. Faced with this crisis, the city decided to reorganize itself spatially to lift the burden of care off these women, facilitating greater independence, personal fulfilment, and the exploration of new opportunities. 

Bogotá’s Care System aims to make essential services for caregivers more easily accessible. By bringing daycare, groceries, and cleaning services closer to women, the program aims to win back their time. Women are then invited to use this newfound time to return to their own education, train for new employment, and participate in healthy activities. In the meantime, men and boys are also able to participate in classes that teach them how to cook, clean and care for their children, ultimately enabling them to contribute to household demands that are otherwise left to women to manage alone. To make this possible, the municipality has created “CareBlocks” around the city to keep essential services for caregivers within a 15-minute radius.

The city has also deployed special “CareBuses” and a door-to-door service to bring the program to harder to reach parts of Bogotá, and support women who can’t leave their homes otherwise.

The Care System is a socially just urban planning practice that focuses on three objectives: recognition of the care work women do, redistribution of care responsibilities between women and men, and reduction of unpaid care. Through this work, Bogotá sheds light on the injustice of unpaid care, and demonstrates that another, more equitable, approach to caring for our loved ones is possible.

During CHANGE’s 2022 annual summit, Natalia Oviedo, Advisor to the Secretary of Women’s Affairs, explains how this revolutionary program works.

Natalia Oviedo, Advisor to the Secretary of Women’s Affairs, explains Bogotá’s Care System.
International Women's Day


Zero Tolerance & Zero Impunity in Mexico City

Upon taking office in 2018, Mayor Sheinbaum inaugurated a new role, the Secretary for Women, and also set up a parity cabinet. With this seismic shift in place, her team then set off to tackle a serious and growing problem in the city: gender-based violence (GBV). In fact, the Mayor went on to declare a State of Emergency for Violence Against Women in 2019. With that, the Mayor and her cabinet set off to prevent, address, and penalize violence, with a single goal: Zero Tolerance and Zero Impunity.

Chief of Government in Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, and her cabinet

Since then, Mexico City has taken a holistic approach to addressing this issue: from classifying online violence as a form of GBV, to passing legislation that forces aggressors to leave their home instead of victims. Streets have been equipped with better lighting and panic buttons for women to feel safer, and women’s only areas have been installed in public transportation. A new emergency hotline has been created, and new care centers have been set up to deliver psycho-emotional, financial, legal, and social support for victims of abuse… Only to name a few projects rolled out by the city. 

During her presentation at the 2022 CHANGE annual summit, Diana Alarcón González, Chief Advisor and International Affairs Coordinator in Mexico City, talks about the policies and programs that have helped the city reduce cases of gender-based violence by more than 15% in three years. 

Diana Alarcón González, Chief Advisor and International Affairs Coordinator in Mexico City, presents policies and programs in the city to end gender-based violence.