(Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
visited a Kenyan slum Wednesday to underscore the need to focus
on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the fight
against poverty, which is punctuated by more women living in
poor and unplanned neighbourhoods.
Guterres visited the Nairobi slum of
Mathare, one of the biggest informal settlements, where he met
with the youth, women leaders and representatives of
drought-stricken families from the Rift Valley, to discuss how
authorities could use policies to deal with drought.
Guterres was accompanied by UN
Settlement Agency (UN-Habitat) Executive Director Joan Clos and
the UN-Habitat’s Chief of Youth and Livelihoods, Doug Ragan, to
a youth centre in the slum.
Clos said during the visit, which also
coincided with the International Women’s Day, the urban centres
and cities were emerging spaces for youth innovation, where
women were the main players.
“As representatives of change, they
are great assets in our efforts towards gender equality and
women’s empowerment,” Clos said.
Guterres met women aspirants vying for
political posts during the forthcoming presidential and
parliamentary elections in Kenya and called for the empowerment
of women and girls.
The UN chief said access to credit
would empower women and communities.
During the visit, women
representatives from Laikipia, one region in Kenya, affected by
the ongoing drought in Kenya, called for the protection of
women, including those running for political offices.
“We are here to discuss the challenges
facing women. Women should not assume that the women’s vote
could be taken for granted,” said Esther Mwaura-Muiru, of
Grassroots Kenya, an organization that represents women
Guterres met with members of an
all-girl team, the Mathare Up for Slum Dwellers Team, to
emphasize his agenda against urban poverty, UN officials said.
The team represented the SDG 11
agenda, which UN Habitat officials say is crucial to its ongoing
campaign for youth and public space.
“The crisis in Laikipia has to do with
climate change but the government is not doing much. They
have done too little to assist the communities in Laikipia
North, which is a semi-desert. We want our region classified
as arid because it has no difference with Wajir,” said John
ole Monto, a local community leader.
UN agencies insist efforts to improve
the status of women are currently underway, including through
its newly adopted New Urban Agenda, which is an opportunity to
“It is a unique tool which recognizes
urban economic empowerment of women. It is a tool which
recognizes urbanization as an endogenous source of
development and prosperity,” Clos said.