INDIA/EGYPT/ECUADOR/RWANDA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA: UN Promotes 'Safe Cities' Program for Women

Monday, December 6, 2010
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Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

The abuse of women has been going on for centuries and it is often the case that a woman is killed before the problem is taken seriously. The United Nations Fund for the Development of Women (UNIFEM), recently launched an initiative to improve the safety and welfare of women in five major cities: New Delhi (India), Cairo (Egypt), Quito (Ecuador), Kigali (Rwanda), and Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea).

Called "Safe Cities," the initiative was developed from pilot programs and has already been initiated in several Latin American cities, from Bogota in Colombia to Rosario in Argentina and Santiago in Chile. It emerged from proposals by civil society organizations for a global campaign on security in cities.

The populations of the five cities chosen have increased exponentially over the last fifty years. Cairo and New Delhi, for example, rose by 2.4 and 1.4 million respectively, to 17 and 19 million inhabitants. This unprecedented growth has led to an intense proliferation of urban slums, making the project a necessity. The project collaborates with municipalities and local authorities to address the most serious cases of rape and sexual abuse, but also those considered common and even less important. Inspired by the success of the program in Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Brazil, Chile and Colombia,

United Nations' agencies, UNIFEM and UN Habitat, are working closely with local governments and municipalities to change the urban landscape and make it more secure for women and girls, starting with putting the most basic measures in place such as improving street lighting, securing bus stops, and controlling crowded areas.