Across the world, women experience violence or the fear of violence in cities and urban spaces on a daily basis. Safe Cities for Women is an international ActionAid campaign aimed at raising awareness and challenging violence and harassment against women in cities, everywhere.
Violence and harassment in public spaces happens all over the world and affects women no matter what their background or social status.
Violence and the fear of violence can be exacerbated in places with inadequate sanitation, lack of street lighting, unregulated public transport and corruption within policing. We have seen this in our work in Mukuru slum, Kenya, where a woman like Damaris (pictured right) cannot leave her home after 8pm, when darkness comes, as there is no street lighting and the streets are unsafe. She cannot even go to the nearest toilet, which is a kilometre away. Gangs wait outside the toilets and a girl Damaris knows was raped there.
And in Cambodia, where garment worker’s like Bopha (pictured below) who after working long days for little take home payhave to walk home through unlit streets where men wait to mock, jeer and sometimes attack the garment workers. Bopha is too tired and too afraid to go out in the evening and so has limited opportunity to to get a qualification and change career.
Through our work with women around the world we have seen violence and fear of violence limiting women's ability to access education and employment, keeping women in poverty.
Gender responsonsive public servcies, such as street lighting, public toilets and transport designed to accomodate both women and men’s needs, are one step towards Safe Cities for Women. However, there also needs to be an attitudinal change. Harrassment, wolf whistling and degrading comments will continue everywhere until a stand is taken against them.
ActionAid believes that for violence and harrassment to end, it must first be recognised. Recognised and called out for what it is, everywhere.
On 29th November, as part of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence we are asking people to tweet why they have #HadItUpToHere with violence and harrassment in cities.
On Thursday 1st December ActionAid will launch its new report Freedom to Move with a walking debate. in Studio 6, Temple Bar Gallery on Thursday 1st December at 5.30pm. Free tickets are available on Eventbrite - click here to book.
Jo-Ann Enright, Communications, Campaigns and Digital Coordinator, ActionAid Ireland.