United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development



    The Equalcity project supports local authorities in the EU in fostering inclusion and protection of migrants who are at risk, or who survived sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). The project aims at building capacity of urban frontline workers to better reach migrants – including 2nd and 3rd generation - and to improve identification, referral, protection and recovery of migrant survivors of SGBV. The project is implemented in 4 EU cities: Brussels , Luxembourg , Rome and Gothenburg and should reach 250+ EU cities in total. It is led by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Belgium and Luxembourg, and is implemented by 6 project partners, in collaboration with IOM Italy.


    Equalcity aims at increasing gender equality, combating inequality and discrimination, and creating conditions for inclusive and sustainable societies and cities. The project tackles SGBV affecting migrant communities by mainstreaming migration and intercultural considerations into the fabric of urban services and raising awareness on SGBV. Equalcity will hereby contribute to migrants’ capacity to fulfill their full potential in dignity and equality. The project specifically aims at protecting the rights of the following vulnerable people: LGBTQI+ migrants, migrant women and girls, migrant parents and unaccompanied migrant children (UMC). Through strong partnerships with 40 trainee cities/organizations across the EU and multiple city networks, the project will have a local, national and regional impact, reaching 250+ cities across the EU.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    Equalcity was designed to support cities to become more inclusive and safe for migrants. It is based on the commitment to support the most vulnerable and to leave no one behind. It directly supports the 2030 Agenda and aims at improving access to care and promoting well-being of migrant communities (SDG3), increasing gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, and reducing the risks of SGBV (5), reducing inequalities (10), building more inclusive cities (11), promoting peaceful and inclusive societies (16) and developing partnerships to achieve all the objectives above (17).

    Implementation methodologies

    The Equalcity project is a 24 months EU-funded project. It is implemented by a team of IOM staff and 6 partner organizations based in 4 EU cities. The project activities can be summarized in 8 distinct phases: 1. Desk research and needs analysis: focus groups and surveys to define the content of the training and awareness raising material 2. Development of training tools, guidelines and awareness raising material in 4 EU cities 3. Review of the toolboxes by a diverse thematic panel of international experts 4. Roll-out and evaluation of the training in the field in the 4 EU cities 5. Review of the tools by 40 trainee cities who joined the project 6. Finalization and translation of the tools 7. Dissemination of the tools across the EU through city networks 8. Sharing of best practices through online webinars and an international conference At the start of the project, a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework was developed to clarify exactly what is expected from each project partner in terms of actions and results. The M&E framework includes clear indicators for each output/outcome. The project partners report on the project activities and finances on a 3-months basis through a written report and a coordination call. This allows the project management team to monitor the project activities and to adapt the actions when needed. The project includes 3 steering committee meetings: 1 kick-off, 1 mid-term and 1 closing meeting. At the end of the project, a detailed evaluation report will be produced by the project management team.


    Equalcity will build capacity of EU cities’ frontline workers to better assist SGBV survivors in migrant communities through the following outputs: - Creation of 4 needs-based toolboxes - Training of 350 frontline workers and 200 UMC The project results/tools will be disseminated widely through webinars, a conference and city networks. By increasing capacity of frontline workers, the initiative will allow for migrants’ needs to be recognized and addressed, resulting in more accessible services (3.7), increased gender equality (5.1, 5.2, 5.6), and reduced inequalities (10.2, 10.3, 10.7). The initiative will promote the protection of human rights of migrants as a critical enabler and accelerator of sustainable development, reducing their risks of exploitation and enhancing migrants’ agency as development actors. This will also contribute to creating more inclusive cities (11.1), and promote inclusive societies (16.2, 16.2, 16.10, 16.a) that can accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

    Factors and Constraints

    Equalcity is funded by the EU’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020). Leveraging partnerships with city networks such as Rainbow Cities, Intercultural cities, UCLG, or Eurocities has been highly beneficial to inform cities about the possibility to become a trainee. Despite the disruptions of COVID-19, dissemination activities went unfazed with conference calls which allowed IOM to present Equalcity – in addition to cutting travel costs for outreach which were instead used for translation of the tools. This facilitated the contact with cities and allowed for the confirmation of twice the number of trainees originally planned.

    Sustainability and replicability

    The Equalcity toolboxes follow a needs-based approach: the project beneficiaries – frontline workers and migrant communities – were included in the development process through surveys, focus group discussions and interviews. The tools were reviewed by a diverse panel of international experts to ensure comprehensiveness and replicability. After being tested in the field, the tools will be reviewed by trainee cities across the EU who will provide their feedback on duplicability and practical use in their specific context before finalization. Trainees are ambassadors of the action and will play a key role in disseminating the tools across their national and EU-wide networks. This practice can easily be extended to other cities across the EU but also globally. The tools could be tailored to specific regional contexts, following the same process of inclusion of the target groups in defining the content and focus, and of experts and trainee cities for the review and dissemination phase.

    COVID-19 Impact

    COVID-19 has underlined the relevance and timeliness of Equalcity. The pandemic has amplified existing inequalities and increased the vulnerability of migrants who faced obstacles in accessing services and were subject to increased discrimination and violence. It has confirmed the need for stronger support and protection services for migrant communities in EU cities. COVID-19 has only lightly impacted the project as such. Focus groups, expert panels and thematic workshops were all moved to an online format, just like the training sessions. All training material was adapted to be compatible to an online roll-out. This is positive for the sustainability of the project considering that the trainings can now be given in person or online, and can therefore be used in very different contexts.

    Contact Name
    Elisabeth Palmero
    International Organization for Migration (IOM)
    Geographical coverage

    European Union

    25 November 2019 (start date)
    24 November 2021 (date of completion)
    Contact Information

    Elisabeth Palmero, Project Manager, Equalcity