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UN launches initiative to make cities safer for women and children

New York, 22 June 2011 - UNICEF, UN-HABITAT and UN Women launch “Safe and Friendly Cities for All,” a five-year programme that aims at making women and children feel safer in their local neighbourhoods, while improving their quality of life. 

 

This partnership initiative builds on prior experience that all three organizations have accumulated on preventing gender-based violence, using innovative tools for child and youth engagement in urban settings, and promoting integrated crime prevention strategies in cities.

 

By working with local municipalities, women’s groups, child and youth advocates, the joint initiative will focus on increasing safety among women, youth and children, and preventing and reducing violence, including sexual harassment and violence against women and girls in public spaces.

 

More than half of the world’s population- approximately 3.4 billion people - live in cities today. This number is projected to increase to 69 per cent by 2050. With this rapid urbanization come increased risks for the citizens of urban areas, especially women and children. Currently one billion people are living in urban slums and are denied basic human rights, such as access to safe housing and reliable health services.

 

Global crime rates jumped by about 30 per cent between 1980 and 2000, and between 2002 and 2007 approximately 60 per cent of urban residents in developing countries reported that they had been the victim of crime.  Many of these are women and young girls, facing sexual assault or harassment on streets, public transport or in their own neighbourhoods.

 

The new partnership will address these challenges by supporting a variety of initiatives in the participating cities. By working with local authorities and organizations on the ground, women and young people will be able to identify those areas in their neighbourhood where they feel most at risk, and find solutions together.

 

Potential interventions may include:

• Enabling women and young people to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives such as decisions on budgets and local infrastructure.

 

• Establishing female councilor-led committees for effective response to sexual violence and crimes in communities.

 

• Increasing street lights in high-risk areas, including the use of solar lights which are cost-effective and more resilient to damage and vandalism.

 

• Training of community police units to prevent gender-based violence.

 

The five year initiative will be piloted in with municipal leaders. Dushanbe, Greater Beirut, Metro Manila, Marrakesh, Nairobi, Rio de Janeiro, San Jose and Tegucigalpa are among the cities currently being considered.

 

For more information:

Janine Kandel, UNICEF Media, New York, + 1 212 326 7684, jkandel@unicef.org

Tamar Hahn, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean, + 507 301 7485, thahn@unicef.org 

Jeanette Elsworth, UN-Habitat Press Unit, Nairobi, + 254 20 762 5518, Jeanette.elsworth@unhabitat.org

Oisika Chakrabarti, UN Women, New York, + 1 646 781 4522, oisika.chakrabarti@unwomen.org

 

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About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in over 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

www.unicef.org/lac

 

 
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