Quito: a city committed to preventing sexual harassment in public spaces

Date: Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence in public spaces are an everyday occurrence for women and girls around the world. This reality reduces women’s and girls’ freedom of movement and ability to participate in school, work and in public life. It limits their access to essential services, and enjoyment of cultural and recreational opportunities. It also negatively impacts their health and well-being.

The City of Quito, Ecuador, will host the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in October 2016. As one of the five pioneer cities to develop a safe city programme in 2011, under UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Initiative, Quito is committed to prevent and eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual harassment in public spaces. The first step undertaken by programme partners was to carry out a participatory scoping study which revealed that 68 per cent of women had experienced some form of sexual violence in public spaces over the previous year.

Following the dissemination of results of this study, in March 2012, Quito’s Municipal Council adopted new pioneering legislation to prevent violence against women, and included sexual harassment in public spaces in the City Ordinance. 

This video produced for UN Women, with support from the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation (AECID), illustrates the main areas of action to end violence in public spaces currently undertaken by the Municipality of Quito, in collaboration with UN Women and many local stakeholders, such as grass-roots women and women’s organizations, public transportation systems, and media.