What if gender equity and women’s empowerment, inclusion and rights weren’t only emphasised on the 8th of March?
Nevertheless, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to highlight women all around the world for their achievements. Today, we put forward the work of Graz’s first women mayor, Mrs Elke Kahr, and her council underlining women’s rights through a short interview.
“As mayor of the city of Graz, I have the opportunity to get to know many different people and their contexts in life with their needs and worries. I find out what moves people, what they dream of, what ideas they have, what they can do and what obstacles they cannot overcome. That is incredibly valuable to me,” said Mrs Elke Kahr.
Becoming the first female mayor of Graz makes Mrs Elke Kahr a woman’s role model for the many more future women mayors she hopes to see elected. Graz stands out as the first human rights city in Europe, showing a clear understanding and implementation of human rights in the guidelines and decisions of the city’s development.
“Being a human rights city means that human rights issues are taken seriously, and appropriate institutions have been set up to deal with them and to observe and advise on politics. Our daily work is to look for a solution and implement mechanisms to constantly reduce discrimination in our city. In Graz, the contact points from the municipality offer help and support. Specialised counselling centres and institutions are responsible for women. We want to upraise women’s rights and the advantage of being a woman in various areas.” proudly puts forward Mrs Elke Kahr .
As a mayor, Mrs Elke Kahr feels a responsible councillor for women and equality. The city of Gratz promotes gender equity and enhances women’s rights through different means. The Department of Women & Gender Equality, takes care of raising awareness and implements specific projects in order to better address gender equity. Mrs Elke Kahr puts forward some of the many projects led by this department:
- “Luisa is here”: in the event of sexual harassment in a bar, you can ask for Luisa and you will get help quickly and easily.
- “FRiTZi brings it“: cargo bike brings direct information and offers assistance to women wherever they are– in public spaces, in parks, on playgrounds or in shopping centres.
- The Graz Women’s Prize awarded annually makes visible Graz’s initiatives for equality and people for their outstanding commitment to equality.
- Girls’ Day encourages girls to make career choices that match their skills and interests.
- During the 16 Days Against Violence in November, the Department of Women & Gender Equality launched a big campaign to raise the importance on restoring women in their dignity and distributed a brochure with information and contact addresses for women in need of support.
“As you can see, a lot is being done and I haven’t told everything by a long shot”, underlines Mrs Elke Kahr.
This year, the United Nations enhances digitalisation for International Women’s Day 2023. The theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” hopes to lead to better innovation, creative and more inclusive solutions. As Mrs Elke Kahr mentions: “Digitisation is important to give many women access to information and networking.”
To walk the theme, she puts to light how the Department of Women & Gender Equality successfully convey a positive message to the public on equality through social media channels.
“But nothing can replace personal contact with people. This why my doors are always open and projects like “FRiTZi brings it” are particularly important to me.” adds the Mayor of the City of Graz.
The work led by Mrs Elke Kahr is fully in line with our vision, to make human rights a reality for everyone, and to foster inclusive democracy. While promoting her work is contributing to our mission, to increase the number of human rights cities in Europe and beyond.
We strongly believe that monitoring the enjoyment of human rights by cities’ inhabitants is essential for the local governments to be able to design and implement human rights-based policies and service delivery systems. Defining indicators giving a real image of the impacts of local policies on the different groups of citizens, especially the more vulnerable ones, is crucial to promote equal treatment and social justice for all.
The definition of specific indicators, the design of monitoring tools with cities, and facilitating their data collection and analysis, reinforce the commitment among participating cities to a minimum standard of human rights indicators as part of the Standardized Monitoring System (SMS) pilot project we just launched.
Key issues raised by Mrs Elke Kahr will be translated into indicators and closely monitored by the city such as for example, the difference between female and male unemployment rates in the city, and its disaggregation by age, country of origin, and disability. Or measuring the percentage of inhabitants (disaggregated by gender, origin, and disability) to understand if public transportation is sufficient, well-connected and safe is important information to improve local transportation services.
The Human Rights Cities Network (HRCN) is an info hub, where you will find information on what constitutes a human rights city and how existing cities can be developed further. The primary objective is to develop a network of like-minded people who can expand their knowledge and share their experiences, to significantly grow the number of Human Rights Cities in Europe and beyond.