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