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