What is the Women Friendly Cities Challenge?

Women Friendly Cities Challenge team members at 2016 Habitat III conference.

The Women Friendly Cities Challenge (WFCC) is a living library of Wise Practices from around the world that help make cities more women friendly. The idea was born at the UN Habitat III conference in 2016, and WFCC officially launched at the World Urban Forum in 2018. 


To become a living virtual library where organizations can share knowledge, inspire innovative practices, and create new ways of working together to address the complexities of the 21st century. The Women Friendly Cities Challenge will serve as a call for action that encourages cities around the world to become more women friendly. 


The WFCC will: 

  • Allow for wide, multi-sector, and grassroots international participation
  • Be used for networking and partnership development
  • Serve as an evaluation tool for cities
  • Help cities around the world become more inclusive and more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges they face, now and into the future

In March 2021, Women Transforming Cities and our friends at Col·lectiu Punt 6, The Seoul Foundation of Women and FamilyNational Democratic Institute Iraq, and the City of Vancouver hosted a virtual event, “Creating Women Friendly Cities”—as part of the NGO CSW65 Forum

Listen as WTC co-chair Dr. Joy Masuhara gives an introduction to the Women Friendly Cities Challenge and the sustainable development of urban spaces.

  • 2016

    The concept for the Women Friendly Cities Challenge (WFCC) Project was first introduced at Habitat III (full name: the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development) in October 2016. Here, Women Transforming Cities International Society (WTC) held a panel discussion called “Women Friendly Cities Challenge”. WTC asked international women’s organizations to share the Wise Practices they were using to make their communities more women friendly.​

    The panel featured organizations such as WTC, Women in Cities International (Montreal branch), and the Seoul Foundation of Women and Family (South Korea). Huairou Commission moderated the discussion, which generated much enthusiasm. Over 100 conference participants supported the idea of creating an international online platform to further develop the WFCC concept of sharing Wise Practices. WTC and the panel also agreed on the basic categories to be used in developing the online platform.

  • 2017

    Inspired by the discussions generated at WTC’s Habitat III panel, the WTC team then returned home to Vancouver, Canada. Subsequently, they began to develop the concept, design, and content for the WFCC website. During this process, WTC expanded the initial basic Wise Practice categories to establish the final list of 16 categories.

  • 2018

    WTC officially launched the Women Friendly Cities Challenge: An international collaborative library of Wise Practices website at the World Urban Forum (WUF) 9 in Malaysia in 2018.  

    WTC Board members Joy Masuhara, Celene Fung, and Ellen Woodsworth hosted a panel session and also presented the new WFCC website. WTC invited guest panelists Huairou Commission, Seoul Foundation of Women and Families, Col·lectiu Punt 6, and Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) to share and submit their Wise Practices on the WFCC website. These organizations thus helped to showcase how the library can be used to collaborate and share knowledge. Consequently, attendees were very enthusiastic about the launch!

  • 2019 – Today 

    WTC continues to develop WFCC international partnerships as well as build the Wise Practices library. Lastly, new partners and collaborators are always welcome! Join the movement to make the world’s cities more women friendly. 

Individual walking between market stalls carrying tray above their head.

What is a Women Friendly City?

Simply put, a women friendly city is a city where women, girls and gender oppressed people are able to thrive and live full, safe and meaningful lives.

This requires equitable access to services including housing, education, justice and medical treatment, participation in decision making and leadership, and for women and girls to be free from violence in the home and in public spaces.

Women Friendly Cities Challenge Guiding Principles

  • Goals will be based on internationally agreed upon documents where available. This includes: the UN Habitat outcome document, the New Urban Agenda, and the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • Where possible, wise practices, tools, and data will use an intersectional lens
  • Where possible, disaggregated and evidence-based data will be collected as well as document insights
  • The WFCC will be used as an international networking tool to share information 
  • The online library will be open access and without use restrictions, but will have a structure that oversees what and how information is uploaded
  • The online platform will be a “living library” so users can collect and extract information that best serves their needs
  • The website will be collaboratively developed and engage all sectors. This includes: government, civil society, NGOs and grassroots organizations, academia, and the private sector
A woman standing in a kitchen watching vegetables.
Land Acknowledgement Squamish Women Friendly Cities Challenge

Women Transforming Cities and the Women Friendly Cities Challenge respectfully acknowledge that our organizations work on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. We thank them for having cared for this land, and honour that they graciously welcome those of us who seek to learn, connect, rest and live in this place.

This acknowledgment is a reminder of the discriminatory, racist, and colonial practices that have had a lasting legacy, and continue to create barriers for Indigenous peoples and communities in our city. Unceded land was never given to settlers; it was stolen and continues to be occupied and governed by settlers today. We believe it is important to continue reflecting and speaking about this colonial violence, and to keep it in mind as we interact with one another.

Finally, we recognize that the work we do in supporting women must come hand-in-hand with uplifting the Indigenous Nations upon whose land we reside.