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The Global Safer Cities for Girls Program is a joint program developed in partnership between Plan International, Women in Cities International, and UN-HABITAT, carried out in 19 cities across 11 countries. Similar to other cities across the world, girls’ safety in Honiara, Solomon Islands is impacted by many factors including: the built environment, access to safe transport and services, laws, harmful social and cultural norms that enable the existence of unequal power dynamics, gender-based discrimination, and violence against women and girls.
Based on global research by Plan International, adolescent girls seldom feel safe in cities. They experience sexual harassment, physical violence, exploitation and insecurity, and are often excluded from decision-making processes - impacting their safety, wellbeing and ability to access even the most basic of services.
With cities and public transport primarily designed by men, adolescent girls’ experiences and their needs and opinions are hardly ever recognised.
After completing a Safer Cities for Girls baseline report in 2019, it was clear adolescent girls in Honiara also did not feel safe in public spaces. Of the 236 girls who participated in focus group discussions and interviews, only 7% of girls said they “always feel safe in public”. The key reasons adolescent girls did not feel safe in Honiara were the high levels of sexist behaviours and sexual harassment they have experienced, or fear they will experience, in public.
The top five perceived safety risks for girls in public spaces identified through the Honiara research were:
(1) drunk and intoxicated people
(3) verbal harassment
The overarching goal is to build safe, accountable and inclusive cities with and for all adolescent girls. The program aims to increase girls’ safety and access to public spaces, mobility in the city; and increase their active and meaningful participation in urban development and governance.
· Conducting girl-led community mapping and safety walks of their local areas, with feedback on areas they feel unsafe and recommendations for improvements delivered to local government stakeholders and authorities.
· Supporting young people to a host public art exhibition designed to amplify youth voices and raise community awareness of the gender and safety issues important to them.
· Advocacy and influencing training for 50 young people to build their capacity to engage with local governments and the transport sector on safety issues that affect them.
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