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While adolescent girls living in cities have more opportunities, they also experience increased sexual harassment, exploitation and insecurity when navigating urban environments. Hanoi, Vietnam has a population of 7.7 million, with 100,000 people migrating to the city every year to look for employment. In Hanoi, many girls find work as bar hostesses or are lured into illegal prostitution.
With an estimated 1.5 billion girls living in urban areas by 2030 we need to build safer cities for girls.
The overarching program goal is to build safe, accountable and inclusive cities with and for adolescent girls (13-18 years) through increasing their safety and access to public spaces; increasing their autonomous and safe mobility in the city; and increasing their active and meaningful participation in urban development. Preventing and addressing gender-based violence and harassment in public spaces and transport sectors is a key focus.
The program engages vulnerable adolescent girls as active agents of change, building their individual capacity and collective agency to identify issues for girls’ safety, autonomous movement and participation in their city. The Safer Cities project will provide sustainable solutions and improve girls’ social position, safety and inclusion, working with governments, institutions, families, communities and adolescent girls and boys themselves, to explore and challenge structural issues, pervasive social and cultural norms and the unequal power dynamics that underpin gender inequality and girls' safety.
A key program component is the Champions of Change for Gender Equality and Girls’ Rights - a community strategy promoting gender equality and social norm change through youth engagement and peer-to-peer mobilisation. It includes a training curriculum for adolescent girls on gender equality, empowerment, and safe and inclusive cities, and a training curriculum for adolescent boys to challenge and transform harmful gender norms, and build a social movement for the promotion of gender equality and new models of masculinities.
The establishment of youth groups, clubs and safe spaces for discussion of gender equality issues is critical and other key activities include safety walks, community score card processes, interface meetings and forums for girls, boys, community members, government representatives and transport operators to share challenges and ideas to make cities more gender-equitable, safe and inclusive.
600 girls and 400 boys will participate in the program with the expected outcomes of:
The intended results of this project are that:
Safer Cities for girls is a global program designed by Plan International, UN-HABITAT and Women in Cities International. In the first year of the project, it will also role out across cities in Uganda and the Solomon Islands, Building on these outcomes it is hoped that the project will expand and build safer cities for girls in other destinations around the world.
The project works with local communities to advance a number of sustainable development goals, with a specific focus on Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities and Goal 5 Gender Equality.