London, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Freetown, Mexico City and Tokyo found first-of-its-kind
network of cities in support of gender equity.
The Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE, today unveiled the capital as a co-founding
member of a ground-breaking international network of cities committed to advancing gender
‘CHANGE’ (City Hub And Network for Gender Equity) will see Freetown partner with Los Angeles,
Barcelona, London, Mexico City and Tokyo to share best practice in tackling sexism, misogyny and
Women around the world continue to face numerous forms of discrimination including lack of
opportunities, unequal pay, physical and sexual violence, a disproportionate share of unpaid labour
and low levels of political representation.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report (2020) concluded that, based on current
trends, the economic gender gap between men and women will not close for another 257 years. As
the world continues to face the significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are
already seeing the disproportionate impact that the pandemic is having on women’s employment. A
separate 2020 study by McKinsey & Company found that women’s jobs are 1.8 times more
vulnerable to the coronavirus crisis than men’s. Similarly, women make up 39 percent of global
employment but account for 54 percent of overall job losses.
This pioneering network has been established in order to promote innovative approaches to
dismantling barriers to gender equality while ensuring that it remains a focus for cities around the
world. It will be launched with a virtual meeting on Monday 23 November.
The first chair of the network will be Los Angeles where, under the leadership of Mayor Eric Garcetti,
the priority will be harnessing the collective power of cities to transform services and systems to the
benefit of all. Member cities will help create systemic change by identifying disparities and
implementing initiatives to address local needs. The work of CHANGE will explicitly acknowledge and
seek to respond to intersecting inequalities based on race, religion, ethnic origin, disability, sexual
orientation, and gender identity or expression.
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr has demonstrated her commitment to gender equity by putting it at the
forefront of her Transform Freetown Agenda. The Agenda, which outlines the city’s roadmap to
transformation, has four clusters, including human development that focuses on providing
opportunities for women and girls. She is the first mayor to have built a crèche dedicated to the
children of market women, which enables women from low-income backgrounds to focus on income
generating activities whilst providing a safe space for their children to learn.
As a passionate advocate for climate change, she has worked with C40 Cities to implement the
Women4Climate Program, through which women have been mentored to become climate change
advocates within their communities.
The Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE, said: “We would not have come as far as we
have with Transform Freetown as an agenda without the tremendous contribution of women from
around our city. From the all-women teams of sweepers who used to clean our 68 major streets to
the women groups who contributed towards the city’s response to COVID-19, we have seen how far
we can go if women are empowered.
As the first elected female Mayor of Freetown, I am using my office to show girls and women in my
city, my country and the world that we can and should be agents of change. That is why being part
of the founding of the first-ever network of cities promoting gender-equality is so important to me.”