Mexico City – (R-Cities). Cities of Resilient Cities Network’s Latin America and the Caribbean region convened in Mexico City last week with a focus on climate change and gender equity.
Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner, the chair of the Resilient Cities Network, joined Chief Resilience Officers to discuss resilience challenges and solutions. He also launched the “Women in Resilience” initiative to raise awareness on the vital role women play in advancing urban resilience.
Mayor Turner shared his experience in Houston, future-proofing the city to better withstand shocks and stresses such as extreme weather events caused by climate change. In the last seven years, the city of Houston has faced seven federally declared disasters, from hurricanes and flooding to a historic winter freeze.
In a time when the frequency of extreme weather events and subsequent disaster relief is constantly increasing in the US and around the globe, the need for resilience beyond simply reacting and responding to such catastrophes is more crucial than ever. A much more holistic approach is needed, strengthening vulnerable communities and creating more equitable and just conditions.
Women play an important part in making communities more resilient. The role of gender equity in the recovery response to any disaster has been widely recognized and prioritized by humanitarian organizations. Yet, due to context specificity, a lack of reliable data and low inclusion of women in decision-making, there are gaps in practical analysis in gender and urban resilience, which poses a challenge for scaling gender responsive urban resilience projects. With the Women in Resilience initiative, R-Cities is addressing this problem. The initiative is designed to help transform visions into solutions-oriented partnerships, beginning with sharing the rich implementation experience of member cities worldwide to inspire action among other cities.
“When we fortify women, communities benefit and we all become more resilient to the many shocks and stresses we face,” said Lauren Sorkin, Executive Director of the Resilient Cities Network. “R-Cities will share good practice across the cities in our Network not just to protect but to empower women around the globe.”
At the R-Cities Regional Convening, Mayor Turner met with women leaders to discuss advancing gender equity in the region and beyond. “We are starting something in Mexico focusing on women in resilience”, said Mayor Turner in Mexico City, “When it comes to violence, and domestic abuse, women and children are most affected. Violence against women is taking place all over the globe. So, we are initiating something right here in Mexico, which is ‘Women In Resilience’. We need to do everything we can to share best practices and put our cities in a stronger position, so that regardless of the shocks or the stresses, they will be stronger, more sustainable, and more resilient.”
Leading on gender equity issues is not new for Mayor Turner. The Director of his Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability (MORS) is led by a woman, Priya Zachariah.
On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Harvey which caused historic flooding in Houston, Mayor Turner and Houston Community College (HCC) Chancellor Cesar Maldonado, Ph.D., P.E., signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will address one of the City’s significant goals – to train 500,000 citizens, employees, small businesses, volunteers, and first responders in new resiliency training programs starting in the Fall 2022
And In 2021, the city of Houston established its first Women’s Commission that brought together a diverse group of 25 women with different professional experiences and backgrounds to discuss how to enhance the lives of women and their families. One result was putting in place a paternity leave policy that secures paid time-off for those adding children to their families.
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Thomas Halaczinsky, New York
Media Consultant, Resilient Cities Network
+1 347 985 6885