The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to promote and develop constructive relations between the United Nations and civil society organizations.
On 22 November UNIFEM (part of UN Women) launched its Safe Cities programme at the Third International Conference on Women’s Safety: Building Inclusive Cities in New Delhi, India. The new programme is dedicated to reducing violence against women and girls in urban areas, while improving the quality of life for all city dwellers.
“Every day, women and adolescent girls face sexual harassment and violence as they go about their daily routines — whether on city streets, on buses and trains, or in their own neighborhoods,” UNIFEM Executive Director InÚs Alberdi said. Women’s lack of safety remains a serious obstacle to achieving gender equality as it curtails their mobility to access education, to work and it limits their right to participate fully and freely in political life.
The Safe Cities programme will focus on slum areas and the poorest urban dwellers in Quito (Ecuador), Cairo (Egypt), New Delhi (India), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) and Kigali (Rwanda). Each city will contribute to developing a comprehensive model for stopping the diverse forms of violence against women and girls. The models will be offered for adaptation to other cities around the world.
Potential measures may include stronger laws and policies against violence in public spaces; training for urban planners, grassroots women’s groups and police; special audits to identify unsafe areas; mass media campaigns on “zero tolerance” for violence against women; activities to engage local communities, men and adolescents of both sexes; and reviews of public sector budgets so that adequate resources are spent on making public areas safe for women and girls.
Collecting reliable data will be an important aspect of the Safe Cities programme as the current lack of reliable and specific information on violence against women and girls in public space hides the problem and hampers the development of solutions.
The initiative responds to international and inter-governmental agreements, and calls for intensified action to address the global pandemic of gender-based violence. This includes General Assembly and Security Council Resolutions; the UN Secretary-General’s Campaign Unite to End violence against Women, launched in 2008; and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including MDG 3 on empowering women and advancing gender equality, and MDG 7 focusing on the rights of the more than 900 million slum dwellers in the world.
More information on UNIFEM’s Safe City programme can be found at the Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women.