Why I want to make cities safer for girls
I pick up the pace when men on the street call me names and shout at me.
My name is Maribel and I’m a youth advocate for Plan International Ecuador. I’m joining Plan International’s campaign to make all cities around the world safer for girls, because I believe it is our right to feel safe when we step out of our homes.
When world leaders come to Ecuador for Habitat III – a once-in-a-generation conference on cities – I want them to hear the voices of girls around the world.
I live in Quito and when I use public transport, or walk on the streets, I never feel entirely safe. I feel intimidated when I pass a group of men because they often cat-call me. I don’t like it when buses are full of people and men brush up against me on purpose and show no respect for space.
While cities can be unsafe for all people, I feel like girls are particularly at risk. As young women, we’re prayed on more because of our gender. When I go out with a skirt or a pair of shorts on, men whistle at me and I feel like I’m being judged.
Because I’m a girl, others think I’m weaker. Because I am a girl, I’m seen as a sexual target.
In October, the world’s experts on cities will come together at the global conference. I will deliver signatures from around the world, calling on world leaders to make significant and long-lasting change to the way cities are built so girls can feel safe. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a real change for the way women and girls are represented in cities.
I feel proud to be part of the conference as an Ecuadorian woman making an impact on the conference, here in my own city.
Here in Quito, I would feel safer if there was more light on the streets at night - especially around places that don’t have many people about such as parks. This is just one of the issues that lots of girls around the world told Plan International.
Young women and girls in Delhi spoke of huge concerns for their safety, with 96% feeling unsafe on the streets, and in other cities girls feel unsafe and feel like they have no support – in Hanoi 36% of girls don’t feel like they have access to the police.
If we can change the way girls and women are treated on the street, then we can truly begin to make cities safer for everyone including men and young boys.
With your support, and your friends’ support, we can go from feeling like the minority to the majority. Stand with me so we can make real change in every corner of the world.
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