Stories

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Christina Bilous is a Roma civic activist. She is also leader of a self-help group in the community of Toretsk, near the front line in the conflict-affected Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine. As an active community member, Bilous heads up the Roma non-governmental organization, Sumnakuno Petalo, advocating for the rights of Roma women and girls.
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Marina Moscoso T Mendonça is an Urban Management Specialist and Technical Director of Despacio in Colombia, where she supervises projects promoting urban development and sustainable transport in Latin America. Marina is also the Operations Director for Women in Motion, an initiative focused on strengthening female leadership in the transport sector. During COVID-19, social distancing and lockdown measures are affecting the mobility choices of women in Bogota and reinforcing patterns of gender inequality on, and around, public transport.
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A first-of-its-kind course by UN Women and the World Bank examines the often-invisible gender issues surrounding mobility in the transport sector.
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Aida Nour ElDin is the Chairperson of the Women and Development Association (WDA), a grassroots civil society organization that specializes in providing various services to survivors of violence and raising community awareness in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Egypt.
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Maya Tutton, 21, co-founded the Our Streets Now campaign in the United Kingdom with her sister Gemma to demand the right of women and girls to feel and be safe in public space.
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Lizette Soria works as policy specialist for UN Women’s flagship initiative Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces. The initiative was launched in 2010 with local and national governments, grassroots women and girls, women’s rights organizations and other civil society groups, UN agencies, and other partners in five cities: Quito (Ecuador), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), Kigali (Rwanda), Cairo (Egypt), and Delhi (India). The initiative aims to develop and implement evidence-based and comprehensive approaches to prevent and respond to sexual harassment against women and girls in public spaces. Today, nearly 50 cities, including cities in the Global South and North, are part of the initiative.
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Local and National Governments, women’s rights and community leaders gather in Rabat to discuss safe and empowering public spaces with and for women and girls
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Hingride Marcelle Leite de Jesus is a 20-year-old graduate of One Win Leads to Another, a joint programme between UN Women and the International Olympic Committee, which provides weekly sport practice and life skills sessions for adolescent girls in Brazil. She recently met with the football player Marta Vieira da Silva, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, and participated in a Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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Every morning, 13-year-old Jareeyah* from Maputo sets out for a 10-minute walk from home to her high school. The trek isn’t long, but it always makes her uneasy. Jareeyah lives in the densely populated neighbourhood, Ka Maxakene, in the heart of Mozambique’s capital, Maputo. The capital launched a Safe City and Safe Public Spaces Programme, as part of UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Initiative.
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With technology and innovation playing an integral role in our everyday lives, it is not easy to imagine development in the 21st century without it. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”. The theme explores the ways in which innovation can work for gender equality, boost investment in gender-responsive social systems, and enhance public services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls.
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Most women and girls are told to stay inside after dark for their safety, it’s one of the pitfalls of living in the sprawling city of El Alto. Once a desolate bedroom community just 15 km away from the Bolivian capital, La Paz, El Alto is the country’s second-biggest and fastest growing city.
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Across eastern Europe social support services have not been very inclusive, whether it be because of armed conflict, local decision-making or simply dangerous, unsafe neighborhoods. Now, people are calling for better infrastructure, safer cities and urban planning.
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Women in Albania, much like women around the world, face many roadblocks when they try to leave an abusive partner—housing. The Shelter for Abused Women and Girls is part of the Monitoring Network against Gender-Based Violence, a network of 48 civil society organizations across Albania. The creation of the network was facilitated by UN Women under its regional programme on ending violence against women, funded by the European Union.
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From marketplaces in the Pacific to parks in eastern Europe, women are rising up and demanding safety, respect and inclusion in public spaces, and coming together to make it happen. Through community efforts, UN Women is working around the world to help women claim their space.
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Betty Mtehemu, Deputy Chairperson of Fabric Clothes Sector, and Chairperson of the Women’s Union in Dar es Salaam’s Mchikichini Market has seen how raising awareness of women’s rights in the workplace has improved the safety of the market.
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Guatemala is now part of the European Union and the United Nations led “Spotlight Initiative” to eliminate violence against women and girls and harmful practices in more than 13 countries worldwide. In 2019, through the Spotlight initiative, UN Women will continue supporting actions as part the Guatemala City Safe City Programme and launch initiatives to safeguard women against sexual harassment in two new municipalities: Cobán and Chinaultla.
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The City of Madrid, in Spain, is joining UN Women’s “Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Programme Initiative”, which aims to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls in public spaces, including public transport.
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Salma Belhassine is an activist from Tunisia and part of the Youth Leadership Programme, an initiative by UNDP in partnership with UN Women. She recently attended the ECOSOC Youth Forum at UN Headquarters in New York and spoke to UN Women about her efforts to end sexual harassment in public spaces.
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In November 2010, UN Women started the Cairo Safe City free of Violence against Women and Girls Programme to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence against women in public spaces. Mansheyat Nasser, along with two other neighbourhoods—Ezbet El Haggana and Embaba—was selected to implement the programme, and public transportation, including tuk tuks, were identified as public spaces where women and girls experience sexual harassment on a daily basis.
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Part 10 in a 16-part blog series by UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on the occasion of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.