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 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
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 continues to support the NGO Jagori in the implementation of the project called “Youth and Girls Safety”. UN-HABITAT and WICI developed the background document on girls and urbanization for the Plan International Publication “Because I am a Girl”. UN-Habitat attended the launch of the PLAN report “ Because I am a Girl” in Nairobi and Kampala. An expert working group on “girls’ safety in cities” will be based on the recommendations of the publication. The Third International Conference on Women’s Safety: Building Inclusive Cities was held in New Delhi, India in November 22nd to 24th 2010, with the participation of stakeholders from 41 countries and 60 cities. The conference was co-organised by Women in Cities International and Jagori, in collaboration with UN-HABTIAT, UNIFEM, and the Huairou Commission with the support from the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom, the Canadian Government, the Interchurch organisation for development co-operation (ICCO), the Evangelischer Entwicklingsdienst (EED), UNICEF, the German NGO Freidrich Ebert Stuftung, CITYNET, the Australian Government, Red Mujer y Habitat America Latina, and Plan International. The conference resulted in the Delhi Declaration.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
In October 2007, the International Conference on the State of Safety in World Cities took place in Mexico. The Conference developed an international framework to support cities in their efforts to address issues of violence and crime, including violence against women; outlined strategies and approaches to address violence against women; and built partnerships between United Nations, and a wide spectrum of stakeholders to address urban crime and violence.Hide
UN-HABITAT has commissioned the preparation of a publication “Using Planning to Combat Violence Against Women”, geared towards stakeholders dealing with women’s rights, urban planning and human settlements.Hide
UN-Habitat undertakes surveys under the umbrella of the Safer Cities Programme, and assesses four types of violence against women, i.e. economic, physical, emotional and sexual abuse. These surveys have been developed in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Cameroon and Papua New Guinea, with the aim of assisting policy development and advocacy at international, national and local levels.Hide
UN-HABITAT also published the “Global Assessment on Women's safety.” This assessment was completed in collaboration with the Huairou Commission, Women in Cities International and Red Mujer y Habitat, with a review of tools and strategies promoting women’s safety at the global, regional, national and local levels. This has resulted in the creation of a database of close to 200 institutions, local authorities and grassroots initiatives working on women’s safety.Hide