UN Women and New York City sign agreement to enhance safety and empowerment of women

City joins Safe Cities Global Initiative; promises to scale-up advocacy and action


UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and First Lady of New York. Photo: UN Women/Jennifer S. Altman
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and First Lady of New York Chirlane McCray, following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding to work together for a safer New York, through UN Women's Safe Cities initiative. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

New York— UN Women and the City of New York today signed an agreement to work together in order to enhance the safety and empowerment of women and girls. It is the first such agreement signed between the City and a United Nations entity. As part of the pact, the City will support public education and advocacy efforts organized by UN Women in the context of the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, the visionary roadmap for gender equality adopted by 189 governments in 1995. The City will also join the Safe Cities Global Initiative

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Chirlane McCray, the City’s First Lady, signed the Memorandum of Understanding at UN Headquarters during the official UN commemoration of the International Day to End Violence against Women. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka welcomed New York to a worldwide partnership that includes cities in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Latin America.

“We deeply appreciate the commitment of the City of New York to make the streets and public spaces safe for women and girls,” said Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka. “With this agreement, New York City demonstrates its global leadership as a champion of women’s security and gender equality. We look forward to working together in this important partnership.”

New York City is known within the United States for its leadership on gender equality and broader equity issues. It will now join UN Women on activities such as scaled-up support for implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, considered the global bill of women’s rights. It will widely disseminate information on successes in increasing the safety of women and girls as good practice that can be replicated, and call on other cities to join Safe Cities through the US Conference of Mayors.

“Every day, in cities across the globe, women and girls are trapped in lives defined by fear and violence. Here in New York City, we have launched a comprehensive effort to connect victims to the resources they need to break the cycle and establish their independence. But we must do even more, which is why we are joining the UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Initiative,” said New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray. “We are committed to doing our part to create a world – and a city – where all women and girls can live their lives without fear of violence.”

Under the Safe Cities Global Initiative, UN Women works with municipalities to make public spaces free from sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence. As a new member, New York will develop and advocate policies and practices to boost women’s safety, equality and empowerment.

The theme of the 2014 International Day to End Violence against Women, and the following 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, is “Orange Your Neighbourhood.” The UN Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women designated the bright and optimistic colour to symbolize hope for a future free from violence. This pervasive human rights violation currently affects up to one-in-three women and girls worldwide. New York’s iconic Empire State Building, UN Headquarters and large screens in Times Square will light up in orange to mark the International Day and galvanize public awareness.

Watch the webcast of the Noon briefing, in which our Executive Director and the Legal Counsel to the City of New York talk about the new Memorandum of Understanding: