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General Guidance
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General Considerations in Capacity Development

Last edited: December 03, 2010

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Capacity development encompasses a wide range of considerations and interventions. Often thought of as synonymous with training, there are many other considerations, such as:


  • Strengthening policies and protocols;
  • Strengthening and building partnerships;
  • Increasing access to knowledge and resources;
  • Improving the enabling environment and infrastructure; and
  • Working with individuals and groups at all levels, using workshops, training sessions, group discussions, coaching, mentoring, ongoing knowledge sharing and discussions, among other strategies and mediums.


Assess existing capacities and gaps related to the specific objectives of the Safe Cities intervention.

While capacities are often equated with training, it is important to remember that much more is implied policies, laws, procedures and protocols, training programmes, services, community groups and experts available, etc. the package of people, skills, knowledge, infrastructure and other resources needed. It is always important to design programmes and interventions first by understanding what resources are already available, what policy commitments and groups are concerned with the same issues, what skills, expertise and comparative advantages they might be able to offer, and what the key gaps are. Such a mapping can provide a basis for developing tailored and specific capacity development plans one the programme’s design and details are worked out. It is always important to remember that the capacities delivered by a programme will be key for ensuring sustained progress and continuity of the intervention into the future.


Build stakeholders’ skills how to look at issues from a gender-based perspective.

One of the main objectives of a safe cities for women programme is to empower communities to become safer for women and girls and to sustain those efforts. This means thinking about how safety affects men and women differently, or, in other words, using a gender-based perspective to look at safety. A gender-based perspective is important because it recognizes that though men and women have different experiences and understandings, each are equally important.  In order for safe cities for women programme partners to respect gender differences, every part of every project, including capacity development, should include a gender perspective.



“Fortaleciendo las organizaciones locales de mujeres” in Insumos para una Caja de Herramientas” Empowering Local Women’s Organizations” in Resources for a Toolkit). Bogotá, Colombia (2010). This document, produced as part of the UNIFEM Regional Programme "Cities without Violence against Women, Safe Cities for All", implemented by the Women and Habitat Network of Latin America and the Caribbean, provides a synthesis of the programme’s intervention in Bogota, Colombia. The chapter indicated explains the context of Bogota, identifying strategic allies and spaces for citizen participation and goes on to give a step-by-step explanation of the process used for empowering local women’s groups.  The steps included are: building alliances with local institutions and identifying local women and organizations; empowering local women through workshops; articulating actions for territorial transformation; and local and district incidence.  The section on workshops with local women is detailed and provides photos of the experiences. Available in Spanish.   



Always think about gender mainstreaming.

Gender mainstreaming involves acknowledging and accounting for gender differences in all activities related to making cities safer for women, including all policies, programmes, and evaluation. Especially with the appropriate audiences (i.e. policy-makers, practitioners),  begin activities by talking in clear terms about the gender mainstreaming approach, how it relates to safe cities for women and preventing and responding to gender-based violence, and the ways it can be incorporated into capacity development activities. Remind participants that men and women experience safety differently, and different forms of violence, and have different safety and related needs. As each activity unfolds, ask participants how it can affect men and women differently.





“Methods for Gender Mainstreaming” Guide (Lehn, S. and Mette L. Nielsen, 2002). Danish National Research and Documentation Centre on Gender Equality, Denmark. This guide offers an introduction to different gender mainstreaming strategies that organizations can use to make sure that they give equal consideration to both men and women in their operations. Other subjects covered by the guide include: gender-disaggregated statistics, benchmarking, and gender impact analysis.  Examples are provided for each subject. In addition, this guide introduces the "3R Method": Representation (a quantitative mapping of the way in which men and women are represented in the municipality in local politics, as decision-makers, and as users of municipal services); Resources (a quantitative mapping of the way in which municipal resources are distributed and utilized); and Culture (a qualitative focus on culture that explores the social and cultural factors that can create and maintain gender inequality and which can sometimes provide explanations for problems identified in the first part of the analysis). The guide also provides a gender mainstreaming checklist (p. 18), as well as objectives, strategies and methods for mainstreaming gender. Available in English.

 Guía Práctica. Municipios en Búsqueda de Equidad (Practical Guide for Municipalities in Search of Equity) (Giobellina, B. and L. Rainero, 2004). UN-HABITAT Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (Brazil) and CISCSA-Women and Habitat Network of Latin America and the Caribbean (Argentina). This tool was developed for use by state and civil society actors wishing to increase gender equality in urban management. The guide includes an overview of relevant issues, case studies and references to best practices. It also provides an introduction to gender, a guide to urban planning and management focused on gender issues, and a review of specific challenges related to gender equality in cities, such as violence against women. Available in Spanish.