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South African Local Government Association (SALGA) President Cllr. Thembi Nkadimeng on the occasion of a virtual session dedicated to the Reactions Of Local and Regional Governments To UN75 Report: The Future We Want, The Un We Need





Posted: 09 October 2020

On Thursday, 08 October 2020, South African Local Government Association (SALGA) President Cllr. Thembi Nkadimeng, told a gathering of mayors and representatives from the Networks of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments that gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment must be brought to the core of solutions to wide ranging global challenges.

Cllr. Nkadimeng, who also serves as United Cities and Local Government (UCLG) Co-President and Mayor of Polokwane, told the gathering that the advancement of women must be at the centre of sustainable solutions to global crises.

“Equality, and more specifically gender equality, needs to be put at the heart of all development processes in order to guarantee that decision-making is done conscientiously,” Cllr. Nkadimeng said
“Involving women means involving all of the population, and this is an important takeaway that we need to consider when shaping the decisions that will affect all of humanity.”

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. As part of its 75th anniversary initiative (UN75), the UN convened a global dialogue under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic to discuss human priorities and how to achieve a better and prosperous future for all.

The international municipal and regional movement, through the Global Taskforce facilitated by UCLG, joined the UN75 global conversation to ensure that the voices of cities and regions around the world were represented.

The Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, facilitated the drafting of a Visioning Report on behalf of the constituency on the occasion of the global consultation.
The objective of the virtual session was to discuss the findings of both reports and how best to take them forward at the local, regional and global level.

Cllr. Nkadimeng said the drive towards achieving sustainable social and economic development goals highlighted the need for renewed multilateralism that has to be inclusive.
“International cooperation will be essential for the recovery and, further, to achieve the universal development agendas that we agreed upon. As an equality-driven movement, we are actively involved in generation equality. The achievement of SDG5 is critical, and local and territorial leadership is key to make this world that we yearn for a reality,” she said.

Carola Gunnarsson, Lord Mayor of Sala Municipality and 1st Vice President of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions Sweden, spoke on the need to find new ways to embrace gender equality within politics.

“We have to acknowledge that we still have a long way to go before we have real and effective gender equality. Women represent more than half of humanity but they are barely represented in politics. It will take 95 years to close the gap in political empowerment, that is too long,” Gunnarsson said.

“I would like to call for lobbying in favor of rules, even if they are temporary measures, obliging to have an equal representation of men and women in their political leadership. Equality between men and women can be reached by 2050 with the empowerment of women and girls all around the world.”

Mpho Moruakgomo, President of the Commonwealth Local Governments Forum, addressed the need to harness the mutual benefits of rural-urban interdependence.

“We must integrate local democracy at the core of peaceful societies to ensure a strong voice for the local populace in guiding local development and in having a say in the decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods. Our members are clear that decentralisation should be the new normal that we must invest in and support. We want to see a territorial approach to development where our cities and surrounding rural areas are planned and developed as an interdependent whole that is responsive to local needs and priorities,” he said.

Yolande Hendler, Secretary-General of Habitat International Coalition (HIC), called for greater intersectional environmental justice research to bring about socio-environmental equity and environmental health.

“Focusing on the intersection between climate, justice and housing rights. The link for civil society organizations to work with the UN has become thinner over time, so this consultation cannot be a once off engagement. In closing, together with the necessity to consider habitat, we would like to emphasize the need for more democratizing channels for civil society to work with UN systems,” she said.

Fabrizio Hochschild, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations said the session would go a long way towards finding actionable solutions to revitalizing multilateralism and improving the UN.

 “Some of the ideas that have been put forward here about having better dialogue and having a more formalized style between local authorities and the UN are ideas that could be integrated in the proposal. This work is the beginning of a process of innovation of multilateralism, there’s no question that people want more multilateralism but they don’t want more of the same, they want something much more inclusive, much more effective,” he said. Offering her closing remarks, Emilia Saiz, Secretary General of UCLG, said: “Let us think together on how we can continue the process, how we can enhance this dialogue.”

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