The mission of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all. Its activities contribute to the overall objective of the United Nations system to reduce urban poverty and promote sustainable development within the context of the Millennium Development Goals and the challenges of a rapidly urbanizing world.
UN-Habitat’s work is guided by the Habitat Agenda, which also addresses women’s safety (article 123).
The key focus of UN-Habitat’s work in the area of violence against women is on the role and rationale for local government interventions and policy. UN-Habitat’s work on violence against women is conducted within the framework of its Safer Cities Programme, which aims to build capacities at city level to adequately address urban insecurity and thereby to contribute to the establishment of a culture of prevention.
UN-HABITAT and UNIFEM, now part of UN Women, held a joint workshop during the International Seminar “Cities without Violence, Safe Cities for Women and Girls”, in July 2008 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and presented a joint training initiative on women’s safety audits for cities in Latin America and the Caribbean.Hide
On 3 June 2009, UN-HABITAT and UNIFEM signed a new Memorandum of Understanding regarding a global programme to tackle violence against women and girls in the world’s cities. This programme will focus on the development, testing and delivery of a new global model for safer cities, based on proven strategies and best practices that can be replicated in different cities around the world. UN-HABITAT, in partnership with the UNIFEM South Asia Sub-Regional Office and the NGO “Jagori”, has developed a framework for a Safer New Delhi, with women's safety being the entry point. The UN-HABITAT Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP) was adopted by the Governing Council in April 2009, focusing on the rolling out of the women's safety audit tool to other cities and training of local governments in adopting this approach; developing guidelines and a capacity building program for local authorities on women's safety in public spaces.Hide
UN-HABITAT, in collaboration with UNICEF and UN-Women, developed a global programme “Safe and Sustainable Cities for All”. During 2012, the programme was launched in eight pilot cities ─ Greater Beirut (Lebanon), Dushanbe (Tajikistan), Metro Manila (Philippines), Marrakesh (Morocco), Nairobi (Kenya), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), San José (Costa Rica) and Tegucigalpa (Honduras). Some city-level results of the programme include: a rapid assessment in 7 neighborhoods in Beirut, revealing interrelated challenges of poverty, overcrowding, and lack of safe public spaces for women, girls and children; the establishment of a permanent Safe Cities Committee within the Municipality in Marrakech which helped to increase resources for the Municipal Committee on Equity and Gender Equality; engagement of community members in participatory mapping of violence and safety conditions for women and girls in nine communities, in Rio; dialogues with informal settlers in Mandaluyong City, Manila, to design collaborative interventions and mainstream ‘safety’ into the city’s planning and budgeting processes. Some results of the global rogramme on “Safe Cities free from violence for women and girls”, led by UN Women, in collaboration with UN-Habitat, include the approval of an Amendment to the City Ordinance on Eliminating Violence against Women by the Quito Municipality to also target violence in public spaces; Safe Cities’ models and approaches are being integrated into a new government scheme in New Delhi aimed at enhancing women’s safety and policing services; the Mayor's office in Kigali is advocating for Safe Cities measures to be included in its city plan and budget and for legal reforms to also address sexual harassment and violence in public spaces; mainstreaming of Women’s Safety Audits into the planning processes of the Egyptian Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Development. The Plan International, Women in Cities International and UN-Habitat joint programme “Because I am a Girl – Urban Programme” was launched in Hanoi (Vietnam), Delhi (India), Cairo (Egypt), Kampala (Uganda) and Lima (Peru). A rapid situational assessment (RSA) has been conducted to assess safety of girls in each of the five cities. UN-Habitat and local authorities of the Kupang and Belu districts in Indonesia, spearheaded a “Local-to-Local Dialogue“ for women, aimed at improving responses by local authorities to crises impacting women and empowering women, both from ex-refugees and host communities. UN-Habitat is supported by the Huairou Commission and by the local NGO CIS Timor. Such dialogues also offer the opportunity to exchange experiences among different grassroots female leaders from other post-conflict areas, in Southeast Asia. By supporting the role of organized women’s leadership in community development processes, the “Local-to-Local Dialogue provides a foundation to prevent and reduce existing practices of discrimination, marginalization and violence against women in post-conflict areas.Hide
UN Habitat held panel discussions during Kenya’s National Youth Forum in February 2008 on preventing gender-based violence. An award ceremony was held in March 2008 in Costa Rica, as part of the “IV Safer Cities Competitions for Women and Girls - Safety and Security for Women and Girls in Cities”, with the following municipalities receiving awards: San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina; Maipú, Chile; and Solidaridad, Mexico.Hide
In collaboration with “Jagori“, UN-Habitat initiated a Youth and Safety Project in slums in New Delhi. The project is implemented in the relocated community of Madanpur Khadar and focuses on gender-based safety by involving young men and young women, in order to enhance security in the slum for the most vulnerable. A National Youth Crime and Violence Prevention Conference was held by UN Habitat in Nairobi, Kenya, with providing safe spaces for young women and girls, as one of the thematic areas. Recommendations were made to local government to be proactive in providing these spaces, especially in disadvantaged communities.Hide
In Cairo, Egypt, UN-Habitat conducted women’s safety audits in the 3 selected areas for intervention and prepared situational analysis reports and recommendations which were submitted to government. Place-making participatory planning workshops have been conducted in each of the 3 areas and the implementation of women-inclusive management of public spaces model has been approved by government. Progress has been made in highlighting safety concerns of women and girls through the “Because I am a Girl Urban Programme” jointly implemented by UN-Habitat, Plan International and Women and Cities International. A set of 5 tools have been developed and situational assessments conducted in 5 cities (Kampala, Delhi, Cairo, Lima and Hanoi). In each of the cities, girls shared similar experiences of insecurity, of sexual harassment and of feelings of exclusion as well as visions for safer future cities.Hide
UN-Habitat emphasizes programmes and strategies aimed at preventing violence against women and, to that end, promotes partnerships between all concerned stakeholders. It encourages the consultation and participation of women at each phase of a project or activity. Through the Safer Cities Programme, women safety audits and exploratory walks aim at an urban environment safer for all its inhabitants. Participants, mainly women, identify areas where the potential for crime is high or where women or other persons may feel unsafe. Based on the Canadian experience, safety audits were adapted to the reality of many cities in Africa, Latin America and Asia and the Pacific. At the national level, UN-Habitat has developed tools for, and implemented, women’s safety audits in several cities, as well as partnerships to enhance women’s safety. The Safer Cities Programme promotes the documentation and exchange of practices and lessons learnt; and the Women City networks at the regional and international level and between regions. Examples include: seminars and international conferences organized in Frankfurt, Naples, Nairobi, Antananarivo, Johannesburg, Montreal and Kampala; and the replication of tools and training sessions carried out in Johannesburg, Frankfurt, Montreal, Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam. UN-Habitat co-organized the first international conference on “Women’s Safety: Making the links” (Montreal, 2002). Direct outcomes of this conference were the development of networks on women and cities and the Women's Safety Awards. In the Eastern Africa Region, Safer Cities collaborated with the non-governmental organization Raising Voices to co-organize a regional dialogue in 2003, which brought together representatives of non-governmental organizations and local authorities to discuss several aspects of prevention of violence against women.Hide
UN-HABITAT is implementing, in partnership with the NGO “Jagori”, a project on Youth and Girls Safety, in one of the settlement communities in New Delhi. Project activities include: the sensitisation of young girls and boys to prevent and end violence against women and girls; and the re-examination of masculinities and gender identities by young men. The Core Strategies deployed are: - mapping and training of a team on Safety Audit methodology; - critical sensitization of a broad range of key stakeholders, to ensure their collaboration with the youth in the development and creation of a gender-equitable safe environment; - developing competencies of the youth to demonstrate leadership and ownership in the community. UN- HABITAT and UNESCAP have been jointly implementing the project “promoting urban safety for the poor in the Asia Pacific” and the final workshop ' Putting Safety First for the Urban Poor on the Local Agenda" was held in the Philippines, in June 2010. One of the concerns raised was women’s safety in the region and in the on-line Safer Cities toolkit for Asia and the Pacific women’s safety features prominently. UN-HABITAT is conducting safety assessments of 13 municipalities in Southern Serbia.Hide
UN-HABITAT and UNIFEM Latin America and Caribbean jointly held a workshop on “Women’s Safety”, in Mexico, in November 2008, to present the training and capacity building programme. UN-Habitat and the NGO “Women in Cities International” launched the evaluation report “Women’s Safety Audits – What Works and Where?. UNIFEM, UN-HABITAT, “Women in Cities International” and “Red Mujer” also organized a session entitled “Women and Safety in Urban Spaces”.Hide