World Habitat Day: changing our cities to empower women and girls

Date: 01 Oct 2012

A woman crossing a deserted site on her way to work. Photo credit: Tanya Anand / UN Women

World Habitat Day occurs on the first Monday of October. This year's theme - “Changing Cities, Building Opportunities - provides the occasion to reflect and act on how to make our cities and communities smarter, safer and more sustainable especially for women, youth and children.

More people move to cities in the hope that cities may offer employment opportunities. But evidence shows that women and men do not enjoy them equally.

Studies conducted last year by UN Women in five major capital cities show that women and girls experience sexual harassment or violence in public spaces on a daily basis which often drive them to stay inside after dark.

On this World Habitat Day 2012, UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet said that no city could be considered safe, smart or sustainable unless half of its population - women and girls—could enjoy public spaces without the fear of violence.

For the last two years, UN Women has been working closely with local governments, grassroots organizations and UN agencies to promote Safe Cities Initiatives. Amongst other measures, ‘Safe Cities' approaches propose better street lighting, better signs and cleaner public places in order to make a real difference.

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