Women 4 Climate

A Global Alliance
A programme of research, education and campaigning led by a global coalition of female mayors who take a non-sexist approach to climate planning and foster women-led governance to help ensure equity


In many regions of the world there remains a tremendous gender disparity in representation within state and municipal environmental ministries. This imbalance impacts decision-making processes with direct effects on women’s lives. To address the disproportionate harm women face through climate breakdown and ensuing socioeconomic vulnerabilities,1For more, see the United Nations information <https://www.un.org/en/chronicle/article/womenin-shadow-climate-change> [accessed 10 July 2022]. more women must take up leadership positions to counteract predominantly male perspectives and experiences. Greater consultation with women during policy making, better analysis of gendered needs in terms of budgeting, and more infrastructural provisions of safe spaces, transport, housing, and working environments, are also paramount in creating gender-responsive spaces and societies.


This is where Women4Cities comes in. An association of women-led municipal authorities based all over the world, Women4Cities researches women’s needs and campaigns for change. It collects gender-disaggregated data to gain insight into how climate change disproportionately affects women, and conducts women’s safety audits. Such audits are vital components of research because they reveal numerous concerns that impact women’s movement around a city, for instance that women are not being able to walk alone. A city cannot be green if it is not also walkable, and it cannot be walkable if it is not also safe. Using its data findings, Women4Cities makes policy recommendations, examining the gender responsiveness of local policies and identifying entry points to integrate gender-informed strategies including budgeting. Alongside its research and policy activities, Women4Cities runs mentoring programmes for women to achieve positions of leadership, harnessing mayoral support from leaders including Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Freetown’s initiatives to help secure greater agency for women include an investigation into mobility and transport options available to women.2Many women face considerable economic constraint due to socio-cultural patterns that restrict women’s access to education and employment while burdening them with productive and reproductive responsibilities. See Eliot Froment et al., 2020. Driving Freetown Towards Enhanced Mobility: Emerging opportunities from health crises for improved access to livelihoods. [Group output produced for the Learning Alliance between the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC) and the Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD) MSc Practice Module at the UCL Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU)] <https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/development/sites/bartlett/files/esd_mobility_report_final.pdf> [accessed 10 July 2022]. Part of this investigation has led to Freetown securing funding from the C40 Cities Finance Facility to conduct a feasibility study on the possibility of implementing a cable car system which would relieve road congestion, improve air quality, and provide a fast and safe alternative to private cars and taxis.3For more on this and other schemes, see Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE and Councillors and Staff of Freetown City Council, Transform Freetown Third Year Report (2021-22) <https://fcc.gov.sl/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Transform-Freetown-3-Year-Report.pdf> [accessed 6 March 2022].

Women4Cities achieves reach and impact because it leverages mayoral power, and mayors’ financially influential networks, to gradually win more control for women through education, employment, and accessible infrastructure. With colleagues in cities across the world, each mayor is both supported by and accountable to a wider infrastructure of critical friendship. Similar and networked initiatives, including Transform Freetown and C40, evidence the powerful potential of municipal alliances collaborating within intersectional frameworks for action to create policies and infrastructures for social justice.