Advancing Gender in the Environment: Gender and Urban Services

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Rapid urbanization shifts social, economic, and political dynamics, with particular impacts on women’s empowerment and gender equality. Expanding cities offer a range of urban development opportunities for eradicating poverty and building inclusive, sustainable communities. However, higher population densities, sprawling informal settlements, rural to urban migration, and displacement present pressing urban development and environmental challenges as cities struggle to keep up with the needs and demands of growing populations.

Unsafe or insufficient infrastructure, limited access to basic services, natural disasters, inadequate governance structures, and lack of integration of nature in urban planning and development all hinder the realization of urban opportunities. These challenges disproportionately affect already marginalized populations with limited adaptive capacity, which most commonly includes women, children, and those living in the deepest levels of poverty. Integrating gender considerations into urban programming is essential to ensuring that existing inequities and poverty are not exacerbated and that well-planned, inclusive initiatives meet the needs of, and produce benefits and opportunities for, both women and men.

This brief focuses on gender gaps and gender-responsive opportunities for urban development as part of the Advancing Gender in the Environment (AGENT) program. AGENT is a ten-year program launched by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2014 and implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The purpose of the partnership is to increase the effectiveness of USAID’s environment programming through robust gender integration and improve gender equality and women’s empowerment outcomes in a broad range of environmental sectors. Recognizing women as agents of change, and the value of diverse knowledge, experiences and capacities of women and men alike, AGENT envisions a world that approaches environmental work at all levels with gender-responsive policy and action. AGENT drives transformation toward a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

Sustainable Development Goals