Source: WikiGender
The African Economic Outlook (AEO) 2016 produced by the OECD Development Centre, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) focuses on Africa’s urbanisation and structural transformation. To celebrate the launch of the African Economic Outlook 2016, Wikigender ( is organising an online discussion exploring the gender dynamics of Africa’s structural transformation.

The AEO 2016 puts the spotlight on the unprecedented urbanisation that is transforming African societies. While urbanisation is often associated with economic growth, this has not been the case in Africa. As the AEO 2016 shows, structural transformation in Africa has not kept pace with urbanisation holding back development and hindering inclusive growth.

OECD research has shown that gender equality is also an important pillar of strong and inclusive growth; yet little attention has been paid to the linkages between gender and urban development. This has serious consequences for women and girls and their communities. The negative effects of poor urban infrastructure are amplified for women, often due to discriminatory social norms that shape women’s and men’s roles in society. Policymakers have overlooked women’s larger share of employment in the informal service sector instead of incorporating it into urban growth strategies and action plans. Gender-blind transportation systems may fail to take into account the different needs of women and girls in transport use, such as differences in trip types and frequencies and time of travel. Gender-based violence and women’s and girls’ perceptions of risk in urban settings are also a major concern. This has been found to limit their ability to move autonomously, access vital urban services and opportunities including education and employment, and participate in urban governance and planning.

Addressing the gender dynamics as central to inclusive structural transformation will be critical to ensure that Africa’s transformation benefits both women and men as countries begin implementing the ambitious 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The inclusion of women in Sustainable Development Goal 11 on making cities “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” is a global call to action for all development actors involved in urban planning to better respond to the needs of women and girls. In addition, the upcoming United Nations Summit on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, ‘Habitat III’, will take place in 17 – 20 October, with the objective to define the ‘New Urban Agenda’ and thereby set the course for urban practitioners, stakeholders and leaders alike. It is essential that these global normative processes are both ambitious and synergistic to be truly transformative at the ground level.

The current 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 and the pre-Habitat III environment has provided an opportunity to work to ensure gender considerations are positioned at the core of Africa’s cities of the future. This online discussion will provide a strong substantive contribution to the current gender and urban narrative, bringing together key partners including UN-Habitat and Women in Cities International (WICI) to share knowledge and experience in supporting women’s and girls’ rights and well-being in Africa’s urban settings.

Guiding questions

1.Setting the context of women and girls in African cities:

  • What is the relationship between gender, urbanisation and cities?
  • What data are available on the situation of women and girls in African cities? Where do knowledge and data gaps remain?

2. What works:

  • What are examples of policies, programmes or initiatives to tackle gender barriers that women and girls face in Africa’s urban environment?
  • What are some proven best practices to promote women’s and girl’s voices in urban governance and planning

3. Achieving Goal 11:

  • What actions and policies will African countries need to take if they are to achieve Goal 11?
  • What existing tools are there to help countries track their progress in implementing Goal 11 in relation to gender and what more is needed?

Key resources

Join the Discussion

The online discussion will open for comments Monday 30 May at 9:00 am (GMT +1) and will run until Friday 3 June 2016 6:00 pm (GMT+1)

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