In many cities around the world, women and girls still have a lot to worry about when it comes to their personal safety.
“On average, violence makes up at least 25 to 30 per cent of urban crime and women, especially in developing countries, are twice as likely to be victims of violent aggression (including domestic violence) as men” (UN-HABITAT, State of the World’s Cities, 2006-2007).
UN-HABITAT believes that local authorities and city management have a crucial role to play in the prevention of violence against women, both in public and private spaces, whether it be harassment or attacks outside the home, or domestic abuse behind closed doors.
Local authorities can improve the city’s physical environment—for example, through better street lighting, building better alternatives to dark and secluded walkways, or even positioning bus stops in safer areas. Effective interventions often promote consultation and participation from women themselves.
Local governments can also make cities safer by mainstreaming gender in their crime prevention policies and programmes, especially through sensitisation campaigns, training and development of services for women affected by violence. These programmes have a role in changing attitudes and behaviour that condone and perpetuates violence against women.
UN-HABITAT’s Safer Cities Programme contributes to a better understanding of gender-based violence on the city level and the development of adequate tools to prevent it. Their activities include the following:
- Collection of gender-disaggregated data about safety and security
- Conducting violence against women surveys
- Conducting safety audits and exploratory walks
- Integrating a gender-based approach in city policy and planning
- Promoting partnerships between all stakeholders on the local level to fight gender-based violence
- Promoting women’s participation and consultations in each phase of city planning
- Training of local authorities on gender-based approaches in policies and programmes
- Promoting the documentation and exchange of good practices and lessons learnt.
Highlights of recent gender mainstreaming work include the following:
- Awards to local authorities on safety for women and girls, initiated in partnership with Women in Cities International;
- A global assessment of women’s safety programmes, policies and tools to promote women’s safety on the global, regional, national and local levels (conducted in partnership with the Huairou Commission, Women in Cities International and Red Mujer y Habitat);
- Training on the women’s safety audits methodology in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Abidjan, Warsaw, Durban and Kingston;
- A comparative analysis of women’s safety audits to inform the development of guidelines on conducting women’s safety audits for use by cities and local authorities;
- Safe Cities Free of Violence Against Women Campaign – UN-HABITAT is a lead partner for activities in this global UNIFEM-led campaign.
Booklet: Safer Cities Promotional Booklet
UN-HABITAT and UNIFEM fight violence against women – news story
Fact Sheet on Gender and Safety and Security in Cities