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Make cities safer for girls

Around the world we’ve listened to girls as they tell us why they feel they have to pick up the pace as they walk through their cities. “I pick up the pace when I am alone in a dark street and I don’t feel safe,” says Amal, 13 from Cairo.

Plan International runs programmes in cities around the world aimed at empowering girls and enabling them to become advocates for their cities’ safety. Girls in Delhi, Kampala, Lima, Hanoi, and Habitat III host-city Quito, have told us about their daily experiences:

“On the streets there’s a lot of crime, I feel threatened and in the shadows, there could be someone waiting to rob you, kidnap you or even rape you.” Maribel, 19, Quito.

Almost two thirds of adult women in Britain say they feel unsafe walking alone after dark. Almost half felt the same way when they were of school age. This is in contrast to 33 per cent of adult men and 35 per cent of men when they were of school age. Men and women living in urban areas felt more unsafe walking alone after dark than those living in rural areas.

Katarine is a youth campaigner in Ecuador who wants to make cities safer for girls

Why we need to see change

This once-in-a-generation conference could shape the way cities are designed in the future, so we wanted to make sure that the world leaders in Quito listened to young people and committed to making our cities safer for girls.

These changes are needed in every corner of the world, not just in one or two countries. With support from around the world, we can go from feeling like a small voice, to one large, united force, making sure world leaders hear us loud and clear.” Maribel, Quito.

Ecuadorian campaigners handing in the safer cities petition to Marta Santos Pais
Ecuadorian campaigners handing in the safer cities petition to Marta Santos Pais

Attending Habitat III

Supported by Plan International, Maribel, along with other youth campaigners from Ecuador, delivered the global petition at the UN Conference. They also took the petition to the Ecuadorian National Assembly, where their own government approved the recommendations, pledging to make cities safer in Ecuador.

It’s so important that girls can feel safe in cities and on public transport and that they are represented in government. This is exactly what the New Urban Agenda sets out to do, so we’re hopeful change will happen! At the conference world leaders approved the Agenda, the new global standard in how cities are built.

Campaign for a better world for girls

Because I am a Girl