SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Srey Sros walks through a market in Sangkat Chaom Chao, shopping for food, on her way back home from the factory. Photo: UN Women/Charles Fox
Photo: UN Women/Charles Fox


  • By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.
  • By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.
  • By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
  • By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries.
  • Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
  • By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations.
  • By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.
  • Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning.
  • By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels.
  • Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials.
SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities

By 2030, a historic 60 per cent of people worldwide will likely live in cities. For women and girls, urban residency can open doors to more income, better work and increased independence. Yet many, particularly lower-income women, are far from experiencing their equal rights to all the benefits and opportunities that urban areas can offer.

More than 50% of urban women and girls in developing countries live without at least one of the following: access to clean water; improved sanitation facilities; durable housing; sufficient living area

Urban spaces are not always safe for them, constraining their right to move about freely. They may face discrimination in employment or property ownership, and in services. A woman who cannot access the public transport she needs to reach medical care, for example, may face consequences including death or disability in giving birth.

Women who are poor and living in urban slums face particular challenges. In developing countries, more than half of urban women and girls lack at least one of the following: access to clean water, improved sanitation, durable housing and/or sufficient living area. Housing deficits impose extra burdens on women, who spend more time at home. Overcrowding and poor hygiene can make households vulnerable to illness, with women required to care for the sick.

UN Women acts to make urban public spaces safe and empowering for all women and girls. We support safety in urban development plans, gender-responsive local programmes, and investments in safe and economically viable public spaces. The Global Flagship Initiative “Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces” generates innovative results through partnerships with local and national governments, women’s groups and other community actors.


Salma Belhassine. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

From where I stand: “It would be a better world if women felt safe in public spaces”
Salma Belhassine, a 21-year-old activist from Tunisia is part of the Youth Leadership Pro-gramme, a joint initiative by UNDP and UN Women. Belhassine and four other university students are working to develop SafeNes, a mobile app to protect women from sexual harassment in public spaces.

Huong Duong is a “communicator” on disaster risk reduction in My Thuy commune. Photo: UN Women Viet Nam/Hoang Hiep

In Viet Nam, women are leading disaster prevention and response
Women in Viet Nam are leading their communities in preparing for disasters to reduce negative impacts. When the Kien Giang river flooded, the damage to lives and livelihoods of the people of My Thuy commune was minimal, because of the preparations and adaptations made by “communicators”—local women leaders trained by a UN Women programme.  

Buses donning UN Women logos and Safe Cities messaging were inaugurated in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.  Photo: Ginigoada/Lisa Marie Luther

Making public transport safe for women and girls in Papua New Guinea
For women, getting on a bus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, meant an almost guaranteed experience of violence. UN Women’s Safe Public Transport for Women and Children programme has provided a bus exclusively for women and children, with tracking systems and three uniformed bus crews. Being able to travel safely has also meant increased access to economic opportunities for women.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) SDG 15: Life on land SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions SDG 14: Life below water SDG 13: Climate action SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities SDG 10: Reduced inequalities SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation SDG 5: Gender equality SDG 4: Quality education SDG 3: Good health and well-being SDG 2: Zero hunger SDG 1: No poverty Women and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Featured video
Rabat, a safe city free of violence for women and girls

In March 2015, Rabat became the 20th city to join UN Women’s global initiative Safe Cities Free of Violence for Women and Girls, stating its political will to end sexual violence in its urban public spaces, including sexual harassment.

At a glance

Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces - UN Women Flagship Programme Brief

Featured publication

Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The gender snapshot 2019

Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The gender snapshot 2019

Are we on track to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls? This report brings together the latest available evidence on gender equality across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, underscoring the progress made as well as the action still needed to accelerate progress.

Flagship programmes
Safe cities and safe public spaces