• Gender & Cities 

    We gathered in person from

    Mumbai, New Dehli, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Kibera, Kuala Lumpur, London, Toronto, New York

    in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss The Smart Feminist City 3.0.                                                                                             We continue virtually. Watch this space for Gender & Cities January 2020.

       Gender & Cities 

    What do regional and frontline feminists have in common with digital visionaries who are also focused on democracy, inclusion, and transformation?


    Women@theTable convenes experts, and expert feminists each separately focused on

    technology, gender, democracy, urban planning, climate change and community activism

    for discussions on shared visions, collaborations and concrete action.


  • “In 1950 there were 86 cities in the world with a population of more than one million; today there are 400, and by 2015 there will be at least 550. Cities, indeed, have absorbed nearly two-thirds of the global population explosion since 1950, and are currently growing by a million babies and migrants each week. The world’s urban labor force has more than doubled since 1980, and the present urban population -3.2 billion- is larger than the total population of the world when John F. Kennedy was inaugurated. … Cities will account for virtually all future world population growth.... Ninety-five percent of this final buildout of humanity will occur in the urban areas of developing countries, whose populations will double to nearly 4 billion over the next generation.”1 And Half of the world’s cities will be built between 2018 and 2060, with half the cities that already exist exploding in population. (1 Thanks to Mike Davis + 'Planet of the Slums')


    Where do gender, women, and women’s rights factor into this complex equation?

    There are extraordinary challenges here, but also great opportunities for transformation, inclusion and change.

  • How will the “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and settlements” expressed in Sustainable Development Goal 11, be fully integrated with the vision of gender equality articulated in Sustainable Development Goal 5 ?

    Gender & Cities 2018 delved into the gap between visions of equality for women and the cities we live in now, exploring what is meant by a gender transformative city, and analyzing the frameworks that enable women to have agency and influence as decision-makers from the kitchen table to the municipality, to the regional, the national and the international level.

  • Gender & Cities

    A day and a half event in Geneva, Switzerland

    focussed on coalition building.

    Kicked off by lightening talks and a public panel on the evening of 4 December,

    panel experts and others led landscaping sessions and discussions addressing the following questions and more at an invitation only convening on 5 December:


    Which inclusive democracy movements are effectively bringing women into decision-making fora?

    Where can the smart city agenda enable a deeper more connective human experience?

    Who are the agents of change on the frontline of this work?


    How can climate justice movements catalyze approaches and integrate a holistic gender as well as technology lens? 

    Do human settlements have gender transformative potential and how do settlements fit into the humanist smart city?

    Which new alliances are needed to move us towards democracies with genuine gender participation at their core?


  • Some of the extraordinary women who led the Gender & Cities discussions

    Suneeta Dhar

    Director, JAGORI, New Delhi

    JAGORI works with a diverse group of women living on the margins of society, in both the urban and rural areas of the country. Focusing on women’s safety and their inclusion in governance, leadership development and strengthening their collectives and institutions, JAGORI uses creative communications and educational strategies. Suneeta has over three decades of experience on women’s rights, combining action research and gender mainstreaming processes with community-led initiatives and policy advocacy efforts. Programmatic areas of work include gender and urbanization, education and ending violence against women.

    Active in the women’s movement, she is one of the Founding Directors of the South Asia Women’s Fund, a core group member of the South Asian Network of Gender Activists and Trainers (SANGAT), a member of the Institutional Ethics Review Board (IERB) at JNU

    Beth Coleman

    Director, City as Platform Lab, Ontario

    Associate Professor of Experimental Digital Media at the University of Waterloo she directs the City as Platform Lab. Coleman's work focuses on smart technology, big data, and civic engagement. Her practice engages research methods and artistic inquiry towards the creation of public, civic, and poetic works. Her research affiliations include executive committee member of the Waterloo Games Institute, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University, and expert consultant for the European Commission Digital Futures. She is a founding member of the Microsoft Research Fellow Social Media Collective.

    Renata Avila

    Executive Director, Fundación Ciudadania Inteligente, Santiago

    Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente (Smart Citizen Foundation) creates web technologies as a key tool for gathering, organizing, illustrating and sharing information through the web, working to promote informed citizen actions and government accountability. Avila is a Guatemalan human rights lawyer and digital rights advocate specializing in Intellectual Property and Technology, her work addresses the crucial intersection between human rights, information, technological change and the power disparities between the Global North and South. As a lawyer in Guatemala, Avila has represented indigenous victims of genocide and other human rights abuses, including the prominent indigenous leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum. As part of her longstanding advocacy work in the field of Internet and Human Rights, she led with World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners – Lee a global campaign to uphold human rights in the digital age in more than seventy five countries. Avila sits on the Board of Creative Commons, is a trustee of the Courage Foundation, - an organisation set up to assist whistleblowers at risk - and is an advisory board member of Diem25, exploring the potential of decentralised technologies in Europe. She is currently writing a book about Digital Colonialism and advises the Web Foundation on their new Digital Equality strategies.

    Nandita Shah

    Co-Director, Akshara, Mumbai

    Feminist activist and researcher, Nandita has over 30 years of experience in strengthening the women’s movements locally, nationally and internationally both through her activism and writing. Her expertise in building different public private partnerships have led to institutionalized initiatives with the police and local municipalities, Transport authorities for creating safer cities for women. She has been able to mobilize sustained support from corporate, media and celebrities on a pro bono basis to enhance the reach of the feminist agendas. Her co-authored book on women’s movement- Issues at Stake published by Kali for women is an important contribution to the Women’s movement and Women’s studies.

    Over the past ten years, she has been an active member in the International council of the World Social Forum (WSF), an important platform for alternative voices globally and has been part of organising the transnational feminist dialogues along with WSFs.

    She has been on the Civil Society Advisory Group of UNWomen since 2013 and is an active organizer for One Billion Rising campaign in Mumbai.

    In November 2015, she was invited by UNWomen to present a paper on “Making CSW60 work for women’s rights” in a global civil society dialogue consultation with the head of UNWomen, chair of the Bureau of CSW, and the official organising government team and US Ambassador.

    Jane Anyango Odongo

    Executive Director + Founder, Polycom Development Project, Kibera

    A community mobilizer working to organize women living in the informal settlements of Nairobi, Jane has been widely recognized for her efforts, winning a Community Peace builder Award, Outstanding

    Leadership Award, and nomination for the International Women of Courage Award in 2011. She has participated and spoken in local and international conferences focusing on development policies on women’s and girls’ rights and safety in relation to reproductive rights and housing, and those that matters to the lives of grassroots women.

    She sits on the UN Women National Civil Society Advisory Group, has been a member of the National Peace Steering Committee and been part of the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women as a powerful voice pushing for unity leading to quality engagement with grassroots women. Jane has successfully mobilized women living in 8 informal settlements under the title Wamama TunaUwezo. She is a powerful facilitator and currently a consultant of the African Youth Trust under Action Aid Program – Safe City aimed to create violence-free societies for women and girls.

    In the Habitat III process, she led a widely-acclaimed Urban Thinkers Campus on women and safety, and served as an expert in Policy Unit 5: Municipal Finance and Local Fiscal Systems. In September2018, Jane together with Huairou grassroots women leaders, successfully organized an Urban Lab in conjunction with the Urban Thinkers Campus that focus on the principle of The City We Need is Safe.

    KaKa Verdade

    Executive Director,
    ELAS Fundo de Investimento Social, Rio de Janeiro

    A political scientist by training, since 2000 Kaka has run ELAS Social Investment Fund investing exclusively in women’s leadership and rights of women throughout Brasil, creating social impact and change.

    ELAS transforms innovative ideas of thousands of women from different ethnicities, races and sexual orientation into reality launching “call of proposals” to select and support innovative projects of women’s groups working for women’s empowerment and rights.

    ELAS has built a pioneering methodology based on meritocracy where women’s groups and organizations use pseudonyms when submitting their proposals aiming to break a culture of favoritism and to ensure transparency.

    Chirley Pankará

    Bancada Ativista, Legislative Assembly,

    São Paulo


    Chirley Pankará is the first-ever indigenous representative elected for the São Paulo Legislative Assembly, the legislative body of Brazil's largest state. She is one of the nine activists who were elected together through the innovative collective candidacy for State Deputy launched in 2018 by Bancada Ativista (Activist Caucus), an independent movement focused on electing activists for office. Representative of the Pankará ethnic group, she is a pedagogue with a Master in Education, and an expert in indigenous school education. She leads the Center for Indigenous Education and Culture - Ceci Jaraguá, and deeply committed to the defense of causes of indigenous peoples.

    Sri Husnaini Sofjan 

    Senior Consultant, Huairou Commission, Kuala Lumpur

    Trained in political science, development economics and public administration, Sri’s experience covers a wide spectrum of fields, ranging from good governance, regional-global coordination of women’s networks and cities, and to managing and programming human settlements and gender equality projects funded by the United Nations agencies, as well as with the government. She was the first Chief Executive Officer of a state-funded women machinery, Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC), from 2012-13. At PWDC she directed the first state level gender responsive budgeting initiative with the two local governments, as well as led the development of a Childcare Policy. After the post conflict and tsunami in Acheh, Indonesia, Sri did not hesitate to commit to 3 years to live in Aceh, as Programme Manager of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM, now known as UN Women), where she successfully implemented and managed a project “Strengthening Women’s Legal Rights.“ She gained regional coordination exposure and expertise working with the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) regional project on urban management and urban governance from 1993 and was the Regional Programme Manager of UNDP’s popular The Urban Governance Initiative (TUGI), when she left in 2004. At UNDP-TUGI, she led the design and facilitation of key programmes and tools with several cities leading to creation of space for inclusion and participation of urban poor women and their communities in local governance such as the Local to Local Dialogues & Platforms, and Governance Report Cards. Sri was appointed as one of the 15-member UN-Habitat Advisory Group on Gender Issues (AGGI) in Aug 2012.

    Caroline Moser 

    Professor Emeritus, University of Manchester

    Gender transformation, asset accumulation & just cities. Caroline’s current research focuses on urban gender transformation, a radical paradigm shift from gender mainstreaming.

    This conceptual and operational framework identifies urban pathways not only to empower individual women but also to collectively transform gender power relations. The evidence base on transformative interventions includes land tenure and housing, safety in public spaces and informal economic activities.

    Moser (2017) ‘Gender transformation in a new global urban agenda: challenges for Habitat III and beyond’, Environment and Urbanization, Vol. 28, No 1, April

  • Gender & Cities Public Event

    4 December

    Ivan Pictet Auditorium

    Graduate Institute, Geneva

    Panel: 18:30 - 20:00

    Reception: 20:00-21:00

    Gender & Cities Kick Off

    Panel I: The Frontline

    Panel II: The Transformative City


      Panel I: The Frontline


      Safe Cities Covening

      Suneeta Dhar, Director, JAGORI,

      & Safe Delhi Campaign, New Delhi, India




      Talking Boxes

      Jane Anyango Odongo, Executive Director + Founder, Polycom Development Project, Kibera




      Huairou Commission

      Sri Husnaini Sofjan, Senior Consultant, Huairou Commission, Kuala Lumpur




      Bancada Atvista, the Elected Collective

      Chirley Pankará, Legislative Assembly, São Paulo

      Panel II: The Transformative City


      What is a Gender Transformative City?

      Caroline Moser, Professor Emeritus, University of Manchester



      Kaka Verdade, Executive Director,
      ELAS Fundo de Investimento Social, Rio de Janeiro



      New Ideas for a New Paradigm

      Renata Avila, ciudadano inteligente, Santiago



      Three Dimensional Transformation

      Nandita Shah, Akshara, Mumbai



      Civic Imaginary: Designing the Smart Cities

      Beth Coleman, Director, The City As Platform Lab; Associate Professor of Digital Media, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

    • Gender & Cities

      invitation only conversation on

      SMART feminist cities

      0830 - 0900 Breakfast & Welcome

      0900-0930 Tour de Table

      0930 – 1115

      the front line: agents of change


      What is the gender transformative potential of human settlements?


      Landscape Leader:

      • Suneeta Dhar, JAGORI, New Delhi


      Curated Discussion:

      • Jane Odongo, Executive Director + Founder, Polycom Development Project, Kibera
      • Sri Husnaini Sofjan, Senior Consultant, Hairou Commission, Kuala Lumpur


      1130- 1245

      climate justice: feminist catalytics


      How do we incorporate a gender lens in the climate justice and climate change movements?


      Landscape Leader:

      •  KaKa Verdade, Executive Director, ELAS Fundo de Investimento Social, Rio de Janeiro
      Curated Discussion:
      • Katharina Samara Wickrama, Oak Foundation




      Networking Lunch upstairs on the roof at Restaurant Maison de la Paix


      technology: with gender at its core


      Can a SMART city enable a more connective human experience?


      Landscape Leader:

      • Beth Coleman, Director, Sidewalk as Platform Lab, Toronto
      Curated Discussion:
      • Renata Avila, ciudadano inteligente, Santiago 

      1600- 1730

      democracy: bringing women into decision-making fora

      What does a SMART feminist city look like?



      Landscape Leader:

      • Caroline Moser, Emeritus Professor, University of Manchester

      Curated Discussion:

      • Nandita Shah, Co-Director, Akshara, Mumbai
      • Chirley Pankara, Bancada Atavista, Sao Paolo


      1730 -1830


      plenary wrap up:

      new alliances

      1830-1930 Reception

      Conference Center, Graduate Institute, Maison de la Paix

      2000-2200 Dinner    

      Les Cinq Portes, Geneva

    • Tell us about a lost, or a future, opportunity 

      Or the questions you'd like to see asked and answered. The problem to solve.

    • w@tt we do

      establishing new norms, now

      because a woman's place is at the decision-making table


      Founded in 2015, Women@theTable (w@tt) a Geneva NGO has recently received ECOSOC status at the United Nations. w@tt works on systems change by making gender visible and a discussion point in the larger mainstream debate on governance, the economy, technology, and sustainability - creating spaces and inventing new platforms for feminists to be visible, have their voices heard, and have influence.

      International Gender Champions

      Our first initiative

      One of w@tt’s first initiatives in 2015 was co-founding the International Gender Champions (IGC) with the UN Director-General in Geneva and the US Ambassador, forming a collaborative network of senior female & male decision-makers who drive systems change through implementation of practical interventions to promote equality. IGC now numbers 200+ Champions including the Secretary-General of the UN, Heads of many if not most International Organizations, NGOs, Ambassadors and private sector. Currently IGC has hubs in Geneva, New York, Vienna, and Nairobi; IGC-Den Haag will launch winter 2019 at the International Criminal Court. This summer the first Finance Minister (Canada) joined IGC with the intention of founding an IGC-Finance Hub for International Finance Institutions and Finance Ministers with the baseline joint commitment of beginning a gender budgeting process within a 12 month timeframe.


      Our first Impact Group and coalition

      Created for impact, IGC currently mobilizes Champion-led consortiums on Representation, Trade, Standards and Disarmament (and soon Finance). Its political action and draft of its Trade Impact Group’s Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment became the Buenos Aires Joint Declaration on Women and Trade, which was joined at the WTO Ministerial in December 2017 by an unexpected 120+ Member States and Observers, making it the first time in WTO, and GATT, history that women are mentioned in an official context of international trade. (Watch the short video with the amazing Arancha Gonzalez in the thumbnail.) The Declaration is critical in that it is institutionally encourages countries to identify impact of trade on women and to take this into consideration in their trade agreements; with a potential massive impact on women’s economic status globally. w@tt and IGC will continue their trade work in collaboration with the International Trade Centre, Iceland, Sierra Leone and Botswana who co-chair the group, with a 13 member circle of Member States, (Canada, EU, Argentina, UK, Australia, Korea, Moldova, Kenya, Pakistan, Chile, Costa Rica), IOs (UNCTAD), NGOs (CUTS, ICTSD) with an action plan for change taking them to the WTO Ministerial in 2020.

      w@tt's pillars

      five strategic points of focus

      In order to connect frontline feminist change-makers, drive impact, and catalyse influence of feminists with policy-makers w@tt focuses on five strategic pillars in fora where feminists have not traditionally been influential: Governance where rules are made (IGC); Economy where power is wielded (the Trade Impact Group, and work on a Gender Responsive Standards Declaration with the major national standards bodies that will achieve recommendation in late fall in Geneva. This includes an action plan to move from national standards bodies to the many International Standards bodies headquartered in Geneva by the end of 2019); Technology where the future is invented (Artificial Intelligence & Gender stream collaborating with école polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR)); Sustainability where innovation is survival (building a conference on Gender & Cities late 2018 to bring together high tech feminist visionaries focussed on democracy and inclusion with traditional feminist groups focussed on gender in order to explore the nature of Smart Cities with a feminist focus -- all leveraging International Organization feminist capital in Geneva), & Sport where myth is forged (for a collaboration with the International Olympic Committee to be staged if / when more capacity is found).

      w@tt is a systems entrepreneur


      front line to the top line to the front line

      This type of collaboration and innovation at the multilateral level, with a feminist NGO driving change with larger scale institutional partners is a new concept,  w@tt is looking for new partners and collaborations.


      We are systems entrepreneurs who have been able to identify, leverage & catalyze strategic points in complex multilateral systems. We effect awareness, create coalitions, plan for action, and collaboratively and iteratively catalyse change,


      We nurture coalitions so that the change is carried, achieved, and reflected on by the responsible international and frontline stakeholders. Together we have forged sustainable & practical hacks to international systems.

    • Join us @TheTable

      Do you know someone who should be with us at Gender & Cities.

      Or want to come to the open Gender & Cities panel at the Graduate Institute on the 4th December?

      Perhaps you just want to Join the women@thetable mailing list and keep abreast of all the happenings.