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Offer: Women City II: Combating violence against women and girls in urban public spaces - the role of public services


It is now well recognized that women and girls around the world face violence, sexual harassment and abuse in many of the spaces that they inhabit – their homes, workplaces, educational institutes, on streets and on public transport. Women’s fear of violence restricts their movement, limiting their use of public spaces, their movement from their
homes and as a result, their full enjoyment of a range of human rights.

ActionAid is working in different countries to make cities safe for women and girls through its Safe Cities Initiative.
This initiative is founded on the concept of right to the city. The right to the city is the right of all city inhabitants, especially poor people, to have equitable access to all that a city has to offer and also to have the right to change their city in ways that they see fit. It entails:

• Freedom from violence and harassment, including the fear of violence on the streets;
• Safe public spaces where women and girls can move freely, without fear of assault;
• Access to water and sanitation, electricity, transportation and other public amenities at residences and in public locations to reduce the risks of violence;
• Freedom from sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace;
• Gender sensitive policing mechanisms for reporting violence and obtaining redress, such as anti-violence centres/shelters; and
• Systems and structures for women and girls to enjoy social, economic, cultural and political participation.

This study, entitled Women and the city II:combating violence against women and girls in urban public spaces- the role of public services, was initiated to deepen our understanding about the links between violence against women and urban public services, to build evidence, to get communities as well as duty bearers to engage in the process and to strengthen our ability to work with women in these communities to seek change.

Conducted in Brazil, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia and Nepal, this study comes at a time of significant global change. In 2008, the world reached a momentous milestone: for the first time in history, more than half of its human population – 3.3 billion people – lived in urban areas. By 2010, the global urban population outnumbered the rural population with 3.56 billion (51.5% of the global population) living in urban areas.

This report is envisaged as a knowledge building and advocacy tool.
Our expected audience includes local municipalities and community leaders, law enforcement, urban planners, non-governmental organisations, feminist movements, the safe cities movement in particular, policymakers and donors at the national and international levels.

The report is divided into five sections, namely, an introduction that provides an overview of the right to the city and the global history of safe cities work; an outline of the methodology adopted for this study; country contexts for each of the six
countries; key findings; and finally, recommendations.

Full report available online in PDF format at

ActionAid International, Women and The City II: Combating violence against women and girls in urban public spaces – the role of public services, February, 2013.


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