International Women's Day - Highlighting women who have made an impact on the world of Urban Development

International Women's Day is a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also making a call to action for strengthening gender equality and accelerating women’s empowerment.

The theme this year is Women in Urban Development Leadership: Achieving high standards within the world of Housing and Urban Development. We celebrate the remarkable efforts by women from around the globe that helped shape a more equitable future for low to middle income families. Today we highlight just a few of the women who have made an impact on the world of Urban Development and who are considered Influential Urbanists.

Iwona Buczkowska (born 1953) is an award-winning Polish-born French architect and urban planner.

She studied at the Polytechnic School in Gdańsk and the École Spéciale d'Architecture in Paris. Buczkowska received the Gold Medal and Special Prize at the Fifth World Biennale of Architecture at Sofia in 1989 for her project at Le Blanc-Mesnil and the silver medal and the Prix Delarue in 1994 from the Académie d'architecture for her collected work. In 2003, she received the Prix grand public de l’Architecture from the region Ile-de-France for her work at Le Blanc-Mesnil.

She has been inspired by the theories of French architect and urban planner Jean Renaudie, as well as the way that towns were planned in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque period. Buczkowska is opposed to the segregation imposed by urban zoning and to the functional urban layout proposed by the Athens Charter. She was innovative in her use of wood as a building material and advocates the use of free plan construction which facilitates movement through the building.

Aja Brown was born Aja Lena Clinkscale in Altadena, California. In 2006, Brown began working for the City of Inglewood, California as an Urban Planner. In 2007, she served a term as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Pasadena, then resigned in 2009 to join Compton's Redevelopment Agency as a Redevelopment Project Manager, focusing her efforts on revitalizing the emergent City of Compton. She was responsible for creating community benefits legislation, initiating community-led downtown revitalization action committees, overseeing the Agency’s urban planning and economic development initiatives. Brown also created and implemented Compton’s Apprentice Program designed to create jobs for local residents on city-funded or assisted capital improvement projects.

In 2011, Brown co-founded the Urban Vision Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization in Compton dedicated to community economic and youth development. Brown has also developed several re-branding programs that have achieved success in various cities, and she was awarded the “Best 2012 Communicator Design Award” for her “Yes!” campaign for the City of Compton. She has been instrumental in marketing Compton's buyer's program for first-time home buyers, as well as programs to attract expertise in land use and transportation.

Catherine Krouse Bauer Wurster (May 11, 1905 – November 21, 1964) was an American public housing advocate and educator of city planners and urban planners. A leading member of the “housers,” a group of planners who advocated affordable housing for low-income families, she dramatically changed social housing practice and law in the United States. Wurster's influential book Modern Housing was published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 1934 and is regarded as a classic in the field.

Sarah Herriot Boyack (born 16 May 1961) is a Scottish politician who has served as Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Lothian region since 2019, and previously from 2011 to 2016. A member of the Scottish Labour Party, she formerly represented the Edinburgh Central constituency from 1999 to 2011. Her constituency in the 2003 Scottish Parliament election, Boyack was elected by MSPs as Convener of the Scottish Parliament Environment and Rural Development Committee in June 2003. In this role, she received the RSPB Goldcrest Award in November 2004 for the most outstanding contribution to the development of environmental policy in Scotland since devolution. Later, in December 2005, she was named the Scottish Renewables Best Politician. She stood down from the committee in January 2007, when she returned to the Scottish Executive as Deputy Minister for the Environment and Rural Development.