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UN launches initiative to make cities safer for women and children

Safe and Friendly Cities for All
UN five-year initiative to work with women and youth to address challenges and find solutions together

KUALA LUMPUR/NEW YORK, 22 June 2011 - UNICEF, UN-HABITAT and UN Women launch “Safe and Friendly Cities for All,” a five-year program 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 organisations 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.

Rapid urbanisation, increased risks

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 urbanisation 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 organisations 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

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, please contact:

Janine Kandel
UNICEF Media, New York
Tel + 1 212 326 7684,

Indra Kumari Nadchatram
UNICEF Media Malaysia
Tel +6012 292 6872,





Say No to Violence Against Children

Child Protection: Malaysia


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