Success stories for empowering women

Empowering women is an essential aspect of any attempt to transform the lives of the urban poor — not only because gender equality is a human right, but also because it is fundamental to bringing an entire community out of poverty. For one thing, it magnifies the impact of such efforts, as women are very likely to invest their income back into their families, focusing on health and education.

The following success stories — initiatives from Lagos, Bangalore, Jakarta, and Rio de Janeiro — demonstrate that with legal recognition, skills training, a social support group, or a garden, women can break the cycle of poverty.

Lagos
Bangalore
Jakarta
Rio de Janeiro
Jorge Bela

 
Jorge Bela — Bogotá Community Manager

 

Bogotá's location is in many ways privileged, with mild temperatures and 12 hours of daylight year-round. This location, however, also entails risks: it is a seismic area, and torrential rains can result in serious flooding. The "Niña" weather pattern creates especially dangerous conditions, like the 2010-2011 period when much of the city was left underwater, especially — although not only — in the poorer neighborhoods.

Prevention, mitigation, and management of natural disasters are not the exclusive responsibilities of the city municipality. As these responsibilities are shared with the central government and other local and regional entities, coordination is imperative. In Bogotá, for instance, the Empresa del Acueducto, an autonomous company, runs the sewer system, a crucial element in flood management, and is responsible, along with several local and national agencies, for the upkeep of the flood-prone Bogotá River.

In order to be able to meet its responsibilities, the municipality needs to have an emergency plan in place (Sistema Distrital de Gestión de Riesgos y Cambio Climático). But a plan is not enough: the principles of disaster management must be applied in all areas of government action, and at all levels of urban planning.

Bogotá Community Manager Jorge Bela has been working as a freelance writer and journalist in Bogotá since 2010. Prior to that, he worked at El Pais, Spain's leading newspaper, and Analistas Financieros Internacionales. Bela has also worked as a researcher at the European Latin American Research Institute and as project manager at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He has an M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida and completed the coursework for a Ph.D. in comparative politics at the University at Albany.