Cities for Women

Movements such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, and #BalanceTonPorc have called attention to the widespread problem of harassment, abuse, and violence against women in the workplace and in their daily lives. But women also face violence because cities fail to consider things like lighting, public transport, and infrastructure that enhance safety. Safety for women and girls is a fundamental human right.

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Help Us Make Cities Accessible And Safe For Women And Girls

Women have been speaking out as never before, highlighting the social and physical factors that allow or even encourage gender-based violence. The physical environment of cities is especially dangerous for women and girls, and by 2030, more than 60% of the world’s population will reside in urban areas. Cities are magnets for impoverished vulnerable women and girls who move from the countryside, sometimes fleeing repressive social settings or the effects of climate change, always in search of education, jobs, and freedom.

But as resources dwindle, towns and cities, particularly those in the developing world, face daunting challenges in creating safe living environments, productive economies, and equitable social benefits for residents, including these new arrivals.

The fact of the matter is city planning and the creation of infrastructure sensitive to the needs of women and girls are essential to assuring safe spaces in which women and girls can live free of fear.

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“No city can be smart and sustainable if half of its population is not safe and lives in fear of violence.”

– Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women

Sexual violence in public spaces is common. Dark, narrow streets are settings for rape, crowded and unpatrolled public transport encourages groping, communal toilets are unavoidable places of danger. Poor women with no options are at the mercy of bosses, landlords, wealthier neighbors. In every city in the world, every day, women of all ages fear sexual harassment, abuse, and violence in their own neighborhoods and on their way to school or work.

Safer cities are fundamental to assuring that every individual can move safely through her day without fear, and with unfettered access to social, economic, political, cultural, and educational opportunities.

In the coming months, WomenStrong International will share the firsthand experiences of women and girls living in cities and engaged with our programs in Ghana, Haiti, India, and Kenya. We’ll highlight best practices to reduce harassment and abuse, and we’ll share the expertise and views of some of those working to ensure that women can live free from all forms of violence. Reaching this goal – freedom from violence - is key to enabling women and girls to emerge from extreme urban poverty and achieve greater gender equality, a Sustainable Development Goal.

#TimesUp and #MeToo are more than hashtags for a movement of American women; they are also a message to non-profits, multilateral organizations, and public officials, that we must all do what it takes to create safer cities where women and girls can lead healthy, prosperous, and fulfilling lives, in dignity and peace.



Opinion: Safe infrastructure means safer women — and it’s our job to say so

At this raw and anxious geopolitical moment, those of us in the development community can probably agree that violence against women and girls takes place all over the world and that something must be done to stop it.

March 8, 2018


The Women’s Eye Radio Podcast

WomenStrong International Founder Dr. Susan Blaustein Launches Safe Cities for Women Campaign

Tune in to Stacey’s brand new interview on The Women’s Eye Radio with Dr. Susan Blaustein, the founder and Executive Director of WomenStrong International, an organization dedicated to eradicating urban poverty in Ghana, India, Haiti, Kenya and the United States.

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