Today is the International Day of the Girl Child and the theme for this year is Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls.
In the spirit of today’s celebration therefore, I share with you this post from PLAN International on making our cities safer for girls. This is just one out of the myriad issues faced by girls around the world. In our own little corner, we can all contribute our little quota to making our world better and safer for the girl child.
Make cities safer for girls
Cities around the world aren’t safe for girls. Plan International research shows that girls often don’t feel safe in their own cities, and the fear of abuse and harassment means that there are no-go areas, making girls pick up their pace as they walk home.
For the first time in history there are more people living in cities than in rural areas, and by 2030 around 700 million girls will be living in cities. As a result, girls’ safety in cities is becoming a global problem which must be addressed.
In October, world leaders will meet in Quito, Ecuador, for the third United Nations’ Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III). We’re asking these authorities to make girls the priority when considering future city planning.
GIRLS RISK ABUSE AND DANGER
STAND UP FOR GIRLS AND TELL WORLD LEADERS THEY HAVE TO MAKE CITIES SAFER FOR GIRLS
SIGN THE PETITION
WHAT OUR RESEARCH SAYS
96% of adolescent girls
don’t feel safe in Delhi
just 2.2% of girls
say they felt safe in public spaces in Lima
48% of British women
said they felt unsafe walking alone after dark when they were of school age
Around the world we’ve listened to girls as they tell us why they feel they have to pick up the pace as they walk through their cities. “I pick up the pace when I am alone in a dark street and I don’t feel safe,” says Amal, 13 from Cairo.
Plan International runs programmes in cities around the world aimed at empowering girls and enabling them to become advocates for their cities’ safety. Girls in Delhi, Kampala, Lima, Hanoi, and Habitat III host-city Quito, have told us about their daily experiences:
“On the streets there’s a lot of crime, I feel threatened and in the shadows, there could be someone waiting to rob you, kidnap you or even rape you.” Maribel, 19, Quito.
Almost two thirds of adult women in Britain say they feel unsafe walking alone after dark. Almost half felt the same way when they were of school age. This is in contrast to 33 per cent of adult men and 35% per cent of men when they were of school age. Men and women living in urban areas felt more unsafe walking alone after dark than those living in rural areas.
WHY WE NEED TO SEE CHANGE
This once-in-a-generation conference could shape the way cities are designed in the future, so we must make sure that the world leaders in Quito listen to young people and make our cities safer for girls.
Supported by Plan International, Maribel, along with other youth campaigners from Ecuador, will be delivering the global petition at the UN Conference in mid-October – let’s make sure they deliver the message that people around the world want girls to be free of abuse and harassment as they walk to and from school or their home.
“ These changes are needed in every corner of the world, not just in one or two countries. With support from around the world, we can go from feeling like a small voice, to one large, united force, making sure world leaders hear us loud and clear.” Maribel, Quito.