On 10 December 2016, UNESCO participated in the International Conference on Women and Urban Life, held in Tehran’s iconic Milad Tower.
The conference, organized by the Office of the Vice-President of Women and Family Affairs and the Tehran Urban Planning and Research Center brought together a large number of national and international participants, and covered ten broad themes: Public Places & Urban Vitality; Family & Urban Health; Social Capitals & Sustainable Development; Social Safety & Vulnerability of Urban Life; Education & Citizenship Rights; Urban Management & Planning; Empowerment & Social Justice; Urban Culture & Novel Communicative Technology; Environmental & Behavioral Considerations; and Ecological Environment & Urban Life.
Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, delivered a keynote speech in the opening session of the conference and highlighted the importance of addressing these urban challenges. “Today, cities are home to more than half of humanity, with urbanization set to continue as a significant trend over the next fifty years. Two out of three people are expected to live in cities by the year 2050”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche.
The UNESCO Representative said that UNESCO was committed to enhancing the sustainability of cities through policy advice, technical assistance and capacity-building, drawing on its longstanding normative and operational experience in the fields of Education, Sciences, Culture and Communication & Information.
In this regard, she talked about some of UNESCO’s initiatives related to cities. “In May 2016, UNESCO launched an initiative with the M.V. Vardinoyannis Foundation and the European Coalition of Cities against Racism called ‘Welcoming Cities for Refugees and Migrants: Promoting Inclusion and Protecting Rights’. This project aims to empower municipals authorities and local governments to promote the integration of refugees and migrants in their cities, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable women and girls”, said the UNESCO Representative.
She went on to talk about UNESCO’s International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities (ICCAR), which seeks to foster inclusion, diversity and non-discrimination in cities. “At UNESCO we believe that it is crucial for cities to promote the rights and inclusion of all citizens, both women and men, from all backgrounds, facilitating access to decent jobs, encouraging full participation in cultural, civic and political life and ensuring the equitable provision of quality public services”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche.
She further mentioned that Yazd and Tehran are both members of the Asia-Pacific Coalition of Cities against Discrimination in Asia and the Pacific – a regional coalition, which is led by the city of Auckland in New Zealand.
Finally, Ms. Kuisch Laroche discussed UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network, which was created in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development, and emphasized the important role that women could play in that regard. She said: “In Iran, the cities of Rasht and Isfahan are both part of the Creative Cities Network. These cities have decided to place creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans”.
After the opening ceremony, there were a number of afternoon panel discussions in which Iranian and foreign guests made presentations on different topics related to the core themes of the conference.
For more information about this event, please see: http://www.wulconf.com/Congress/UIPanel