The 2nd Asian Women’s Network Forum

On September 1st 2016, Seoul Foundation of Women and Family with the support of Seoul Metropolitan Government, CityNet, and Huairou Commission conducted The 2nd Asian Women’s Network Forum in Seoul Women’s Plaza, Seoul, Republic of Korea. The forum serves as a platform of urban policy makers in Asia, community activists, NGO practitioners, academics and experts could discuss the different range of issues in Asia.  ‘Building Inclusive and safer cities for women’ was chosen as the big theme of this year’s forum with the aim to bring the discussion of safe and inclusive cities for different groups of women.

The forum was divided into two sessions that cover two major topics including ‘Building a city safe from disasters’ for the morning session and ‘Building a city safe from violence’ for the afternoon sessions. Academics, experts, and researchers from different backgrounds and institutions were present to provide knowledge and insights on each topic. The forum was opened by the Opening Remarks from K.H. Angela Kang, the President of Seoul Foundation of Women and Family and followed by the Welcoming Remarks from Yang Sook Park, the Chairperson of Health & Welfare Committee, Seoul Metropolitan Council.

Different case studies and practices related to the topic of safe cities and disasters in the context of Asian countries such as Japan, The Philippines, and South Korea were presented to the forum during the morning session. Among the list of speakers, Umetani Junko (Special Adviser to the Hyogo Governor for Regional Revitalization & Women’s Empowerment), Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Former Secretary of Department of Social Welfare and Development of the Philippines, and Sayel Cortes (Safer Cities Program Coordinator of CityNet) provided the specific cases on the current practice and engagement of building inclusive and safer cities from disaster and violence particularly for women as the target group of the programs. The session was chaired by Sri Husnaini Sofjan, the Senior Program Strategist of Huairou Commission.

As the representative of CityNet as a supporting organization, Mr. Cortes provided a presentation of the current efforts from CityNet in building safer and inclusive cities for all of their habitants. Mr. Cortes also touched specifically the importance of women within the big picture of the issue, particularly in relation to the Role of Safer Cities for Women in the New Urban Agenda. In addition, Mr. Cortes also presented the work and collaboration between CityNet, Seoul Metropolitan Government, and the UN-Habitat on Safer Cities Program.


Following the first session, the Mayor of Seoul, Won Soon Park was also present and giving the Keynote address entitled “Building Inclusive and Safer Cities for Women” before the start of the second session.  The Mayor began by saying, ‘Women are living more safely, but we have a long way to go.’ Mr. Park referred to the recent murder of a woman near Gangnam station and the outpouring of emotions and notes in response to this tragedy, noting one message that stood out to him – ‘I don’t want to be afraid just because I’m a woman.’  Mr. Park stated that these acts of violence toward women must not only be recorded, but must also drive policy surrounding women’s safety, explaining that safety is directly related to gender equality.  He touched on the policies that have been implemented within Seoul via the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) campaign and other initiatives including: safe parcel delivery, more streetlamps, safe return home campaigns, and more.


The second half of the forum focused on women’s safety from violence, with speakers Pamela Philipose (Board Member of Jagori) speaking about the internal response to the 2012 Delhi gang rape that received much international attention, Laura Perez (President of Metropolis Women International Network) speaking about the commitment of local level participants regarding violence in urban spaces, and Norliza Abdullah (Director of Town Planning, Municipal Council of Seberang Perai) speaking from a case study perspective of what Seberang Perai has done to address violence against women.  The session was chaired by Eun Shil Kim, a professor of Ewha Womans University, and further comment and questions were made by Jong Soo Park (Director of Women’s Policy Division, Seoul Metropolitan Government) and Joy Da Hae (Project Manager of Improving Gender Equality and Safety for our Village, Seoul Women Association).

The forum was closed with the signing of the Recommendation of the 2nd Women’s Network Forum entitled ‘Building Inclusive and Safer Cities for Women’ to be further discussed during the October 2016 Habitat III conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito, Ecuador.  The document proposes recommendations for local governments, local communities and citizens, and international networks and was created through the collaboration of:

K.H. Angela Kang, President of Seoul Foundation of Women and Family, Seoul, Korea

Kyu Sook Um, Assistant Mayor of Women and Family Affairs Office, Seoul Metropolitan Government, Seoul, Korea

Umetani Junko, Special Adviser to the Hyogo Governor for Regional Revitalization and Women’s Empowerment, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan

Corazon Juliano Soliman, Former Secretary of Department of Social Welfare and Development of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines

Pamela Philipose, Board Member of Jagori, Delhi, India

Laura Perez, President, Metropolis Women International Network

Sayel Cortes, Safer Cities Program Coordinator, CityNet

Sri Husnaini Sofjan, Senior Program Strategist, Huairou Commission




Global Network on Safer Cities in the Asia Pacific Region

Safer Cities Knowledge Exchange Seminar
As part of the UN-Habitat’s Safer Cities Programme, UN-Habitat, Seoul Metropolitan Government and CityNet jointly organized the Knowledge Exchange Seminar on Urban Safety for Asian Cities in Seoul from November17-19. This seminar has become a platform to introduce the Global Network on Safer Cities launched in 2012.

More information here.

To read the full report about this seminar click here

Safer Cities Programme
CityNet is working with UN-Habitat’s Safer Cities Programme in conjunction with Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) to improve urban safety in Asian cities. In June 2015 a delegation from UN-Habitat headquarters visited Seoul to strengthen the existing cooperation between SMG, CityNet and UN-Habitat. The Communique on Safer Cities in Asia summarizes the efforts of the joint approach. Seoul has successfully implemented strategies and best practice projects related to urban safety which will be shared as a first step to promote cooperation in this field among CityNet members. The Safer Cities Knowledge Exchange Seminar for Asian Cities will help accelerating progress in the development of the safer cities approach in the Asia Pacific Region.

1. Safer Cities Knowledge Exchange Seminar for Asian Cities
2. Background: urban safety through local government capacity building
3. Further information
4. Contact points

Safer Cities Knowledge Exchange Seminar for Asian Cities

safer cities
CityNet is collaborating with Seoul Metropolitan Government and UN-Habitat to organize the first Safer Cities Knowledge Exchange Seminar for Asian Cities to be held at the end of 2015 in Seoul, South Korea.

This seminar is the first step for Asian cities towards the development of norms and standards for crime prevention and urban safety for local governments in Asia. It will provide an excellent opportunity for chief technical officials in city planning and management to cooperate and exchange knowledge in urban safety. It is also an opportunity for city officials to engage with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and other regional stakeholders in the development and implementation of the UN Guidelines on Safer Cities.

This seminar aims to prepare participants for enhanced policy planning, decision making and practical implementation in preventing and reducing crime and violence situations. It aims to:

  • Deepen participants’ understanding of the salient and interlinked challenges of safety/security and urban development in today’s complex urban environment, within a framework of human and state security; and in particular:
  • Introduce the safer cities approach and tools;
  • Showcase the use of one of the safer cities tools: the city safety audit tool using mobile technology – the safetipin tool
  • Further discuss modalities for development of safer cities guidelines and accompanying training/curriculum development on urban safety and implementation for local authorities;
  • Establish a broad regional framework of action for the creation of safer cities in Asia

The seminar seeks to:

  • Examine crime and violence in urban settings globally and relate it to the regional context.
  • Identify the main challenges and critically analyze their causes and consequences.
  • Evaluate existing responses and articulate alternative and more effective ones for the region.
  • Provide an open regional exchange towards developing regional guidelines and handbook on safer cities.

Background: urban safety through local government capacity building

Safer cities picture700
For the last decade, the UN-HABITAT Safer Cities Programme has been spearheading urban crime prevention approaches in cities in Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. It has developed crime prevention activities at the local, regional and global level, proposing adapted responses in the different local contexts, and providing an important learning opportunity for the international community and the various cities themselves.

Historically, the Asia Pacific Region has always been considered as the world’s safest region, with its globally lowest reported crime rates. Recent evidences and preliminary needs assessments, however, suggest that lack of safety is indeed emerging as a priority issue in some cities of the region.

While it is the prevailing assumption that poverty leads to crime, it is important to note that the poor are more exposed and adversely impacted by crime and the fear of insecurity. The lack of income and productive assets means that the poor cannot afford protection, such as physically secure housing. The poor tend to live and work in less serviced locations, where, for example, street lighting is minimal. The lack of voice means that the poor get less effective services from the police or other authorities. At the same time, crime and the fear of insecurity erode the poor’s human, social, physical and natural capital, making it harder to escape poverty. Even a relatively minor crime can have devastating impacts on the poor’s livelihood.

Traditionally, national governments and the justice systems have been responsible for responding to crime and insecurity. Now, it is widely recognized that they alone are often ill-equipped to respond to localized problems of safety, particularly when it concerns the poor. Their contribution is crucial in repression and in addressing organized and larger crimes. Given their limited resources, they cannot, however, be expected to deal with crime prevention, or to tackle causes of local crime and inter-personal violence.

Alternative strategies that complement traditional criminal justice responses, stress the critical role local governments can play. Undoubtedly, local governments are in the best position to understand the unique dynamics of the communities they serve; and hence, are well suited to initiate local programs that address urban safety with and for the community.

Despite their crucial role, however, there are currently three major bottlenecks hindering local governments:

  • Unavailability of consolidated regional knowledge, tools, and networks on urban safety for all citizens
  • Limited understanding of urban local governments’ critical role in improving urban safety with and for all citizens, particularly the poor
  • Limited practical skills/experiences in implementing urban safety programs with and for all citizens, particularly the poor

Based on the above, the joint collaboration between UN-Habitat Safer Cities Programme, CityNet, UCLG-ASPAC and the Seoul Metropolitan Government is proposed to assist urban local governments and their partners in initiating effective urban safety programs with and for all citizens through the following three-pronged strategy:

  • Development of a consolidated regional knowledge base, network, and toolkit on urban safety for all, tailored to local governments and their partners
  • Sensitization and advocacy on the local governments’ critical role in improving urban safety for the poor
  • Development of hands-on, practical skills to implement effective urban safety programs with and for all citizens, particularly the poor

The Safer Cities Knowledge Exchange Seminar for Asian Cities is the first step into facing the challenge of safer cities through urban crime prevention in Asia. Join us!

Further information


Contact Points

CityNet, Sayel Cortes
UN-Habitat, Juma Assiago