•    Gender & Cities 

    December 4 / 5 2018

    Geneva, Switzerland


    What do regional and frontline feminists have in common with digital visionaries who are also focused on democracy, inclusion, and transformation?


    Women@theTable will convene experts, and expert feminists each separately focused on technology, gender, democracy, urban planning, or climate change for a discussion on shared visions and potential collaborations.

  • “In 1950 there were 86 cities in the world with a population of more than one million; today there are 400, and by 2015 there will be at least 550. Cities, indeed, have absorbed nearly two-thirds of the global population explosion since 1950, and are currently growing by a million babies and migrants each week. The world’s urban labor force has more than doubled since 1980, and the present urban population -3.2 billion- is larger than the total population of the world when John F. Kennedy was inaugurated. … Cities will account for virtually all future world population growth.... Ninety-five percent of this final buildout of humanity will occur in the urban areas of developing countries, whose populations will double to nearly 4 billion over the next generation.”1 And Half of the world’s cities will be built between 2018 and 2060, with half the cities that already exist exploding in population. (1 Thanks to Mike Davis + 'Planet of the Slums')


    Where do gender, women, and women’s rights factor into this complex equation?

    There are extraordinary challenges here, but also great opportunities for transformation, inclusion and change.

  • How will the “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and settlements” expressed in Sustainable Development Goal 11, be fully integrated with the vision of gender equality articulated in Sustainable Development Goal 5 ?

    Gender & Cities will delve into the gap between visions of equality for women and the cities we live in now, exploring what is meant by a gender transformative city, and analyzing the frameworks that enable women to have agency and influence as decision-makers from the kitchen table to the municipality, to the regional, the national and the international level.

  • Gender & Cities

    A day and a half event in Geneva, Switzerland.

    With additional half day bilaterals on coalition building.

    Kicked off by lightening talks and a public panel on the evening of 4 December,

    panel experts and others will lead landscaping sessions and discussions addressing the following questions and more at an invitation only convening on 5 December:


    Which inclusive democracy movements are effectively bringing women into decision-making fora?

    Where can the smart city agenda enable a deeper more connective human experience?

    Who are the agents of change on the frontline of this work?


    How can climate justice movements catalyze approaches and integrate a holistic gender as well as technology lens? 

    How do human settlements have gender transformative potential and how do settlements fit into the humanist smart city?

    Which new alliances are needed to move us towards democracies with genuine gender participation at their core?


  • Some of the extraordinary women who will lead the Gender & Cities discussions

    Francesca Bria

    Chief Technology and Digital Innovation Officer, Barcelona

    Chief Technology and Digital Innovation Officer for Barcelona, Spain, .Bria currently leads DECODE- which uses decentralized technologies (like the blockchain) to help citizens better control their data.

    One pilot invites citizens to share data they've collected on noise quality and air pollution using smart devices.

    She is also piloting a democratic hub which allows citizens to sign petitions and vote online.

    Bria previously led D-CENT, the pan-European project which saw cryptocurrencies piloted in Iceland, Spain and Helsinki.


    Suneeta Dhar

    Director, JAGORI, New Delhi

    JAGORI works with a diverse group of women living on the margins of society, in both the urban and rural areas of the country. Focusing on women’s safety and their inclusion in governance, leadership development and strengthening their collectives and institutions, JAGORI uses creative communications and educational strategies. Suneeta has over three decades of experience on women’s rights, combining action research and gender mainstreaming processes with community-led initiatives and policy advocacy efforts. Programmatic areas of work include gender and urbanization, education and ending violence against women.

    Active in the women’s movement, she is one of the Founding Directors of the South Asia Women’s Fund, a core group member of the South Asian Network of Gender Activists and Trainers (SANGAT), a member of the Institutional Ethics Review Board (IERB) at JNU

    Beth Coleman

    Director, City as Platform Lab, Ontario

    Associate Professor of Experimental Digital Media at the University of Waterloo she directs the City as Platform Lab. Coleman's work focuses on smart technology, big data, and civic engagement. Her practice engages research methods and artistic inquiry towards the creation of public, civic, and poetic works. Her research affiliations include executive committee member of the Waterloo Games Institute, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University, and expert consultant for the European Commission Digital Futures. She is a founding member of the Microsoft Research Fellow Social Media Collective.

    Renata Avila

    Executive Director, Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente, Santiago

    Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente (Smart Citizen Foundation) creates web technologies as a key tool for gathering, organizing, illustrating and sharing information through the web, working to promote informed citizen actions and government accountability. Avila is a Guatemalan human rights lawyer and digital rights advocate specializing in Intellectual Property and Technology, her work addresses the crucial intersection between human rights, information, technological change and the power disparities between the Global North and South. As a lawyer in Guatemala, Avila has represented indigenous victims of genocide and other human rights abuses, including the prominent indigenous leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum. As part of her longstanding advocacy work in the field of Internet and Human Rights, she led with World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners – Lee a global campaign to uphold human rights in the digital age in more than seventy five countries. Avila sits on the Board of Creative Commons, is a trustee of the Courage Foundation, - an organisation set up to assist whistleblowers at risk - and is an advisory board member of Diem25, exploring the potential of decentralised technologies in Europe. She is currently writing a book about Digital Colonialism and advises the Web Foundation on their new Digital Equality strategies.

    Paola Villarreal

    Director, Product Engineering, Creative Commons

    Paola is a self-taught systems programmer who, since 1998, has worked and played with all things “open” in governments, NGOs, and the private sector. She currently the Director of Product Engineering at Creative Commons where she is developing projects that She was also a 2016-2017 fellow for both the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and at the Media Lab's Open Documentary Lab at MIT and now maintains an affiliation at the Berkman Klein Center. In the past she worked with the government of Mexico City on several civic innovation projects to build real, effective tools that defend democracy. Her passion for open government and data, civic tech, and civil rights has fomented a curiosity to explore how and where technology, openness, and code can strengthen human rights.

    Nandita Shah

    Co-Director, Akshara, Mumbai

    Feminist activist and researcher, Nandita has over 30 years of experience in strengthening the women’s movements locally, nationally and internationally both through her activism and writing. Her expertise in building different public private partnerships have led to institutionalized initiatives with the police and local municipalities, Transport authorities for creating safer cities for women. She has been able to mobilize sustained support from corporate, media and celebrities on a pro bono basis to enhance the reach of the feminist agendas. Her co-authored book on women’s movement- Issues at Stake published by Kali for women is an important contribution to the Women’s movement and Women’s studies.

    Over the past ten years, she has been an active member in the International council of the World Social Forum (WSF), an important platform for alternative voices globally and has been part of organising the transnational feminist dialogues along with WSFs.

    She has been on the Civil Society Advisory Group of UNWomen since 2013 and is an active organizer for One Billion Rising campaign in Mumbai.

    In November 2015, she was invited by UNWomen to present a paper on “Making CSW60 work for women’s rights” in a global civil society dialogue consultation with the head of UNWomen, chair of the Bureau of CSW, and the official organising government team and US Ambassador.

    Nanjira Sambuli

    Senior Policy Manager, World Wide Web Foundation, Nairobi

    Nanjira leads the Web Foundation’s advocacy efforts to promote digital equality in access to and use of the Web. A Nairobi-based researcher and analyst, Nanjira brings broad expertise as an advocate and consultant working at the intersection of governance, media, culture and society.

    Immediately prior to joining the Web Foundation, Nanjira was Research Lead at the iHub in Nairobi, where she helped shape governance and tech research, and provided strategic guidance for the growth of technology research in East Africa. Her recent research includes work on the ICT and Governance Landscape in East Africa (iHub Research), Cybersecurity and Cyber-resilience in East Africa (CIGI), research into the challenges of promoting Internet access in developing countries while upholding net neutrality principles (Journal of Cyber Policy), and Technology Innovation Hubs and Policy Engagement (Making All Voices Count). Nanjira is also a columnist for the Daily Nation newspaper in Kenya, a member of DFID’s Digital Advisory Panel and served as a deputy on the United Nations High Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment (2016-17).

    She has been on the Civil Society Advisory Group of UNWomen since 2013 and is an active organizer for One Billion Rising campaign in Mumbai.

    In November 2015, she was invited by UNWomen to present a paper on “Making CSW60 work for women’s rights” in a global civil society dialogue consultation with the head of UNWomen, chair of the Bureau of CSW, and the official organising government team and US Ambassador.

    Jane Anyango Odongo

    Executive Director + Founder, Polycom Development Project, Kibera

    A community mobilizer working to organize women living in the informal settlements of Nairobi, Jane has been widely recognized for her efforts, winning a Community Peace builder Award, Outstanding

    Leadership Award, and nomination for the International Women of Courage Award in 2011. She has participated and spoken in local and international conferences focusing on development policies on women’s and girls’ rights and safety in relation to reproductive rights and housing, and those that matters to the lives of grassroots women.

    She sits on the UN Women National Civil Society Advisory Group, has been a member of the National Peace Steering Committee and been part of the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women as a powerful voice pushing for unity leading to quality engagement with grassroots women. Jane has successfully mobilized women living in 8 informal settlements under the title Wamama TunaUwezo. She is a powerful facilitator and currently a consultant of the African Youth Trust under Action Aid Program – Safe City aimed to create violence-free societies for women and girls.

    In the Habitat III process, she led a widely-acclaimed Urban Thinkers Campus on women and safety, and served as an expert in Policy Unit 5: Municipal Finance and Local Fiscal Systems. In September2018, Jane together with Huairou grassroots women leaders, successfully organized an Urban Lab in conjunction with the Urban Thinkers Campus that focus on the principle of The City We Need is Safe.

  • Gender & Cities Public Event

    4 December

    Ivan Pictet Auditorium

    Graduate Institute, Geneva

    Panel: 18:30 - 20:00

    Reception: 20:00-21:00

    Gender & Cities Kick Off Panel

    w/ Lightening Talks and Panel

    (Announcement Women4Climate Geneva Mentorship Programme with C40)


      ‘Building the Networked City from the Ground Up’

      Francesca Bria, Chief Technology & Digital Innovation Officer for City Council,

      Barcelona, Spain

      ‘Civic Imaginary: Designing the Smart Cities’

      Beth Coleman, Director, The City As Platform Lab; Associate Professor of Digital Media, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

      'The Safe Cities Convening'

      Suneeta Dhar, Director, JAGORI,

      & Safe Delhi Campaign, New Delhi, India

      & others to be confirmed.



      Moderated by Women@theTable

    • Gender & Cities

      invitation only conversation on

      SMART feminist cities

      0830 - 0900 Breakfast & Welcome

      0900 – 1100 Governance

      Discussion Leader: Francesca Bria, Chief Technology Officer, Barcelona

      Landscape: Building the networked city from the ground up.

      Curated Discussion:

      1100- 1300 Technology

      Discussion Leader: Beth Coleman, Director, City as Platform Lab, Toronto.

      Landscape: Civic Imaginary: Designing the Smart Cities.

      Curated Discussion:

      1300-1430  Lunch

      Networking Lunch upstairs on the roof at Restaurant Maison de la Paix

      1430-1600 From the frontline

      Discussion Leaders: Jagori, New Delhi & WILPF International

      Landscape: The Safe Cities Convening in India

      Curated Discussion:

      1600- 1730 Sustainability

      Discussion Leaders: TBD


      Curated Discussion:

      1730 -1830 Plenary Wrap up

      1830-1930 Reception

      Conference Center, Graduate Institute, Maison de la Paix

      2000-2200 Dinner    

      Les Cinq Portes, Geneva

    • Tell us about a lost, or a future, opportunity 

      Or the questions you'd like to see asked and answered. The problem to solve.

    • w@tt we do

      because a woman's place is at the decision-making table


      Founded in 2015, Women@theTable (w@tt) a Geneva NGO has recently received ECOSOC status at the United Nations. w@tt works on systems change by making gender visible and a discussion point in the larger mainstream debate on governance, the economy, technology, and sustainability - creating spaces and inventing new platforms for feminists to be visible, have their voices heard, and have influence.

      International Gender Champions

      Our first initiative

      One of w@tt’s first initiatives in 2015 was co-founding the International Gender Champions (IGC) with the UN Director-General in Geneva and the US Ambassador, forming a collaborative network of senior female & male decision-makers who drive systems change through implementation of practical interventions to promote equality. IGC now numbers 200+ Champions including the Secretary-General of the UN, Heads of many if not most International Organizations, NGOs, Ambassadors and private sector. Currently IGC has hubs in Geneva, New York, Vienna, and Nairobi; IGC-Den Haag will launch winter 2019 at the International Criminal Court. This summer the first Finance Minister (Canada) joined IGC with the intention of founding an IGC-Finance Hub for International Finance Institutions and Finance Ministers with the baseline joint commitment of beginning a gender budgeting process within a 12 month timeframe.


      Our first Impact Group and coalition

      Created for impact, IGC currently mobilizes Champion-led consortiums on Representation, Trade, Standards and Disarmament (and soon Finance). Its political action and draft of its Trade Impact Group’s Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment became the Buenos Aires Joint Declaration on Women and Trade, which was joined at the WTO Ministerial in December 2017 by an unexpected 120+ Member States and Observers, making it the first time in WTO, and GATT, history that women are mentioned in an official context of international trade. (Watch the short video with the amazing Arancha Gonzalez in the thumbnail.) The Declaration is critical in that it is institutionally encourages countries to identify impact of trade on women and to take this into consideration in their trade agreements; with a potential massive impact on women’s economic status globally. w@tt and IGC will continue their trade work in collaboration with the International Trade Centre, Iceland, Sierra Leone and Botswana who co-chair the group, with a 13 member circle of Member States, (Canada, EU, Argentina, UK, Australia, Korea, Moldova, Kenya, Pakistan, Chile, Costa Rica), IOs (UNCTAD), NGOs (CUTS, ICTSD) with an action plan for change taking them to the WTO Ministerial in 2020.

      w@tt's pillars

      five strategic points of focus

      In order to connect frontline feminist change-makers, drive impact, and catalyse influence of feminists with policy-makers w@tt focuses on five strategic pillars in fora where feminists have not traditionally been influential: Governance where rules are made (IGC); Economy where power is wielded (the Trade Impact Group, and work on a Gender Responsive Standards Declaration with the major national standards bodies that will achieve recommendation in late fall in Geneva. This includes an action plan to move from national standards bodies to the many International Standards bodies headquartered in Geneva by the end of 2019); Technology where the future is invented (Artificial Intelligence & Gender stream collaborating with école polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR)); Sustainability where innovation is survival (building a conference on Gender & Cities late 2018 to bring together high tech feminist visionaries focussed on democracy and inclusion with traditional feminist groups focussed on gender in order to explore the nature of Smart Cities with a feminist focus -- all leveraging International Organization feminist capital in Geneva), & Sport where myth is forged (for a collaboration with the International Olympic Committee to be staged if / when more capacity is found).

      w@tt is a systems entrepreneur


      front line to the top line to the front line

      This type of collaboration and innovation at the multilateral level, with a feminist NGO driving change with larger scale institutional partners is a new concept,  w@tt is looking for new partners and collaborations.


      We are systems entrepreneurs who have been able to identify, leverage & catalyze strategic points in complex multilateral systems. We effect awareness, create coalitions, plan for action, and collaboratively and iteratively catalyse change,


      We nurture coalitions so that the change is carried, achieved, and reflected on by the responsible international and frontline stakeholders. Together we have forged sustainable & practical hacks to international systems.

    • Join us @TheTable

      Do you know someone who should be with us at Gender & Cities.

      Or want to come to the open Gender & Cities panel at the Graduate Institute on the 4th December?

      Perhaps you just want to Join the women@thetable mailing list and keep abreast of all the happenings.