SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
The world today is urbanizing at rates unprecedented in history. For many men and women, the chance to move to a city is a chance for a better life—a larger income, more interesting employment, a more comfortable residence and ready access to modern amenities.
Yet cities are also places of deep inequality and despair. New migrants, many of them women, can end up in overbuilt slums, poorly connected to public transport or essential services such as clean water. Life becomes dangerous and unhealthy, with many obstacles to gaining a secure foothold in the urban economy.
For women, gender discrimination magnifies and adds to the risks. Not being able to take a bus to a clinic to deliver a child can result in permanent disability or death. In general, natural disasters kill more women than men and kill women at a younger age than men . If she survives a disaster such as a flood or earthquake, a woman will likely have fewer options to recover.
Cities and human settlements can be safe, prosperous, equitable and pleasant places to live. But not without including every citizen in their development. All elements of urban governance, planning and finance need to actively embed gender equality measures. And women deserve equal roles in making decisions about an ever more urban world.
UN Women’s efforts ensure urban public spaces are safe and that women and girls can enjoy them without being assaulted or harassed. UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Initiative has generated a number of innovative results through partnerships with mayors’ offices, national Governments, women’s groups and other community partners. To reduce the number of women impacted by disasters, the entity also promotes disaster-risk reduction planning and training to help women become more resilient and to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Lives saved in Viet Nam by involving women in disaster planning
Through the training of women in disaster management, as well as national lobbying, the contribution of women has been recognized and a government decree now gives the Women’s Union an official space in decision-making bodies.
Quito: committed to preventing sexual harassment in public spaces
As one of the five pioneer cities under UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Initiative, Quito is acting to prevent and eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls. Following a scoping study, Quito’s Municipal Council adopted pioneering legislation to prevent violence against women, and included sexual harassment in public spaces in its City Ordinance.
 United Nations Economic and Social Council (2013), Gender equality and the empowerment of women in natural disasters Report of the Secretary-General, p. 2.