Fostering the Equiverse: Gender Inclusive Urban Spaces Report

This report summarises the key takeaways and recommendations from the Roundtable on “Fostering the Equiverse: Building Inclusive Urban Spaces”, jointly organized by TalentNomics India and the Regional Economic Programme Asia (SOPAS) of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in Japan. The event was held in New Delhi on March 6th, 2024. It was a closed-door event that brought together inspirational leaders, entrepreneurs, transport and urban development specialists and practitioners, researchers and senior leaders from development and international organizations.

The event provided an opportunity to bridge the gap between intent and action in building gender-inclusive urban spaces and to foster collaborative initiatives by bringing together diverse perspectives and experiences. Emphasizing collaboration, the round table charted a course forward for urban planners, policymakers, enlightened private sector leaders, and citizens to pilot gender-inclusive cities in South Asia. The roundtable discussions brought out several reasons and factors that have historically posed barriers to building inclusive urban spaces and cities that are amenable to women. Gender-blind planning and design greatly restrict the mobility and freedom of women, adding to existing restrictions due to socio-cultural norms.

One of the key messages that emerged from the roundtable was the need to mainstream gender into all stages and phases of urban planning and design. City masterplans must imbibe gender considerations and be articulated as integrated plans with gender as one component. Gender sensitisation of policymakers, many of whom are men, and increasing the proportion of women workers and leaders in urban planning and decision-making were highlighted as two steps that are vital for enabling the mainstreaming of gender into urban plans. Collection of gender-disaggregated data, implementation of universal design principles, practising participatory planning, setting up Gender Labs, institutionalizing gender planning, and greater enrolment of women in urban service delivery like transportation and safety were some of the other requirements that were highlighted in the discussions.

The roundtable participants also discussed specific elements of urban spaces and cities that currently pose a challenge for women. The first set of elements comprised of infrastructure in public spaces that can be made inclusive to enable women better access education, work, wealth, and well-being. This would include the provision of street lighting, walking paths, pavements and parks, adequate number of hygienic public toilets, and enough “eyes on the streets”.

Inclusive urban areas would also need to gender mainstream public services and amenities, by providing safe housing for single or working women, efficient childcare and eldercare services, and caregiving support facilities like lactation rooms and diaper changing stations.

Inclusive public transport infrastructure and networks are also critically important for women to have the same opportunities as men. This can be enabled by bringing in inclusive design considerations (like low-floor buses and reserved coaches), enabling safe first-mile-last-mile connectivity, increasing the diversity of transport staff and providers, better lighting and safety measures at metro/bus/train stations. Deploying user-generated data is essential to make transport systems more efficient for all users.

Cities can become safer for women with initiatives to reduce gender-based violence. In addition to safety measures for mobility and infrastructure, increasing the proportion of women in police services and improving working conditions for female police officers. Enhancing the capacity of forensic labs and improving judge-to-population ratio were highlighted as keys to ensuring quicker justice in rape trials to dissuade perpetrators. Building enabling infrastructure like efficient helplines and crisis centres would be vital components of inclusive urban spaces.

Great Power Rivalries in the Global South 

Navigating Financial and Economic Security Issues in a Multi-Polar World  

In 2024, the world is at an inflection point, the most important since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. There is widespread concern about the increasingly fragmented state of the international system, and the capacity of leading governments to address challenges that have become increasingly complex.  The value of breaking down silos and engaging perspectives from multiple areas of expertise is now greater than ever.  To address this need, FSVC’s 2024 international symposium in Istanbul, Turkey, funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), brought together 29 leading experts and practitioners in international finance and foreign policy from Africa, Asia, Europe and North America to exchange ideas on pressing current affairs.  The symposium encouraged reflection on what has worked and what has gone wrong in recent decision-making, with the goal of identifying informed, proactive policy responses to current and future stresses.  The overarching topics of discussion were how great power rivalries are impacting the Global South, the implications of these developments for the global financial system, and how countries in the Global South can navigate this competition to their benefit.    

More information and details can be found in the Strategic Memorandum as well as the Rapporteur’s Report.

NPI-KAS Seminar on Economic Security

On February 20, the Japan Office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and Nakasone Peace Institute (NPI) jointly organized a seminar on “Economic Security: A German Perspective”. The seminar was held following the MoU signed last December between NPI and KAS to strengthen cooperation in the field of economic security and was attended by Japanese Diet members and government and ministry officials.

Following the introduction and opening remarks by Rabea Brauer, Country Representative, KAS Japan Office, Hon. Taro Aso, Chairman of NPI, provided a keynote speech. Hon. Aso stated that as major powers, Germany and Japan must take on the responsibility of promoting coordination to ensure the stability and prosperity of the world as a whole. In the face of the international political and economic reality that we cannot proceed with a free economy alone, he stated that how the two countries coordinate with each other in terms of economic security is of great importance to the international community overall. He then recognized that from the basic standpoint of “derisking” in terms of economic security, coordination, cooperation, and partnership among allies and like-minded countries, including the United States, are extremely important and must not be allowed to be disrupted.

Following the keynote speech, H.E. Dr. Clemens von Goetze, German Ambassador to Japan, outlined the key areas of economic security in Germany in his lecture entitled “Economic Security: A German Perspective.” He pointed out the significance that Germany and Japan share many similarities in their economic structures and challenges and are well suited to cooperate in areas such as technological innovation, supply chain resilience, energy transition, cyber security, and trade. Through platforms such as regular intergovernmental consultations both countries can not only improve their economic security, but also promote sustainable growth and address global challenges.

The Q&A session with H.E. Dr. von Goetze was moderated by Mr. Shiraishi Shigeaki, Director of the Research Center for Economic Security at NPI, discussing the status of policy achievements toward derisking in Germany, the status of Japan’s policy toward China from the German ambassador’s perspective, differences in perceptions among EU member states concerning economic security, and the German position on a regulation known as the Anti-Coercion Instrument (ACI) recently formulated by the EU.

This seminar concluded with closing remarks by Hon. Hirofumi Nakasone, President of NPI.

Launch of Trade Sentinel: An Early Monitoring Mechanism for Trade Policy and Related Changes in South Asia

South Asia is at an early stage of globalization. Average applied tariffs in South Asia were 11.8% in 2022, the highest of any region, against a world average of 8.6% and an East Asia and the Pacific average of 6.1%. Gains from trade have far from being realized. It is the least integrated region in the world, with regional goods trade forming only 5.8% of total trade in 2020, compared with 21.1% for ASEAN and 35.9% for East Asia. Not only is South Asia not integrated with the rest of the world, it is even less integrated with its own neighbourhood. While the rest of the world is getting into more sophisticated forms of cutting trade costs and integrating better with the neighbours, South Asia is still struggling with first generation and basic trade reforms.  

There is no early monitoring mechanism for trade policy changes in South Asian countries. The existing trade databases such as the WTO Trade Reviews, the Global Trade Alert Database, and the temporary trade barriers database by the World Bank only offer infrequent updates and summarized data for a small set of countries. Trade monitoring mechanisms are essential for encouraging South Asian countries to tap into intra-regional trade and to dial down their increasingly protectionist policies. 

The Trade Sentinel ( will fill important gaps in monitoring trade policy actions for South Asian countries. It seeks to provide real time alerts, trends, and analysis of trade investment policy changes. This tool and this topic are more and more important for the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), through the Regional Economic Programme Asia (SOPAS) to contribute to the discussion shaping important developments in international trade. 

Read more about the details in the corresponding outcome document to the launch event.

Shaping the Equiverse: Building Inclusive Urban Spaces for Women in South Asia

The roundtable, ‘Shaping the Equiverse: Building Inclusive Urban Spaces for Women in South Asia’, took place on 6 March 2024 at the India International Centre in New Delhi. It was co-organised by TalentNomics India and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung’s (KAS) Regional Economic Programme Asia (SOPAS). The primary objective of this roundtable is to identify actionable issues hindering women’s equal access to education, work, and well-being in urban spaces.

ISAS-KAS Workshop: The IPEF and the Contours of Economic Security in the Indo-Pacific

On the 1st of March 2024, KAS Japan, in partnership with the Institute of South Asian Studies NUS (ISAS), hosted an engaging workshop building on the insights shared in the recent publication “The Making of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF)”.

The workshop brought together a diverse group of experts from the Indo-Pacific region and beyond for an insightful exploration of key topics on economic security in the area. This document summarises the comprehensive discussions and analyses presented during the event, providing a valuable resource for understanding recent developments and gaining nuanced insights into the topic.

Visit of a Delegation of CDU/CSU Members of the Bundestag

From February 7 to 9, the Japan Office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation had the honor of welcoming a delegation of members of the German Bundestag, led by Dr. Johann Wadephul, Deputy Chairman of the Christian Democratic/ Social Union (CDU/CSU) parliamentary group, to Japan and provided them an opportunity to exchange views with Japanese members of parliament and experts.

The delegation was invited to the general assembly of the Japan-Germany Parliamentary Friendship League held on February 7 at the Diet Members’ Office Building, where they exchanged views with Japanese Diet members from the ruling and opposition parties, including Hon. Toshiaki Endo, Chairperson of the Friendship League. More than 50 Japanese parliamentarians attended the assembly and actively exchanged opinions on a wide range of topics, including not only German-Japanese foreign, security, and defense policy, but also human rights due diligence and policy toward Africa, etc.

During the visit, the delegation members paid also courtesy calls on Hon. Yoko Kamikawa, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Hon. Minoru Kihara, Minister of Defense, and confirmed the importance of strengthening Japan-German cooperation in security and defense fields in the face of the unstable international situation, referring to Japan-Germany contribution to the Indo-Pacific region and the ACSA. In an exchange of views with Hon. Shintaro Ito, Minister of the Environment, the theme of the meeting was the international approaches of Japan and Germany as advanced nations in addressing environmental and climate issues.

Meetings were also held with Mr. Kiyoto Tsuji, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Hiroshi Moriyama, Chairperson of the General Council of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and Hon. Kenta Izumi, President of the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP), to discuss the political situation in Japan and Germany and the future of Japan-Germany cooperation, particularly in the security and defense fields.

MoU Signing Ceremony with Nakasone Peace Institute

On December 6, the Japan office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nakasone Peace Institute (NPI) confirming their cooperation in the field of economic security. 

The MoU was signed by Hon. Hirofumi Nakasone, Vice Chairman / President, NPI, and Ms. Rabea Brauer, Country Representative of Japan, KAS, in the presence of H.E. Clemens von Goetze. Also present from KAS headquarters in Berlin was Dr. Peter Fischer-Bollin, Head of Division Analysis and Consulting. 

At the signing ceremony, NPI and KAS recognized the importance of the economic and security fields in the current international political situation and confirmed their willingness to cooperate closely in these areas in the future. 

Shaping an Equiverse: Pathways to Parity

The International Leadership Conference “Shaping an Equiverse: Pathways to Parity”, jointly organised by TalentNomics India and KAS SOPAS in New Delhi, India, was held in person on November 24th, 2023. The meeting brought 23 Global Leaders as speakers and panellists and was attended by more than 200 participants. The conference sought to discover specific policy interventions for reducing disparities and shaping a new world – an Equiverse: a Universe where gender equity is the norm.

Read the report for all findings and recommendations.

LDP-CDU Party Dialogue

From October 30 to November 1, Dr. Carsten Linnemann, Secretary General of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and Mr. Philipp Birkenmeier, Federal Deputy Managing Director of the CDU and Head of the Policy and Program Department, visited Japan to exchange views with Japanese parliamentarians and government officials. 

During their visit to Tokyo, they had an opportunity to meet with Hon. Hiroshi Moriyama, Chairperson of the General Council of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), to discuss the role of political parties in the current international situation and cooperation between Japan and Germany. They also exchanged views on a wide range of social policy topics through briefings on social security, demographics, and pension systems. 

In addition, Dr. Linnemann confirmed the need to strengthen Japan-Germany relations in meetings with Hon. Toshiaki Endo, Chairperson of the Japan-Germany Parliamentary Friendship League, Hon. Yasutoshi Nishimura, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hon. Shintaro Ito, Minister of the Environment, Hon. Kiyoto Tsuji, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Hon. Kenta Izumi, President of the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP).