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COVID-19 and ensuring safe cities and safe public spaces for women and girls

UN Women

2020

Global

Policy Brief

Women's economic empowerment Violence against women covid-19 covid-19 response women's safety safe spaces

COVID-19 and ensuring safe cities and safe public spaces for women and girls

COVID-19 and ensuring safe cities and safe public spaces for women and girls

Prepared by UN Women, this document highlights emerging trends and implications for women and girls’ safety in cities and public spaces, recognising the continuum of violence against women and girls in private and public spaces throughout different phases of the pandemic. It provides examples of concrete action taken at the local level in partnership with governments, grassroots women and women’s rights organisations, the private sector and other partners, including from cities participating in the UN Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Flagship Initiative, and in particular from cities where the disease is widespread.

This brief includes recommendations to be considered by governments, international organisations, women’s rights and other civil society organisations.

 

Highlights

  • During COVID-19, sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women continue to occur on streets, in parks, on transport, and online.
  • In Chile, Canada, Nigeria, the Philippines, Kenya, India, and the US cases of sexual violence against women in public spaces continue being reported during the crisis.
  • In Canada, one in three women are subjected to unwanted sexual behaviour in public spaces.
  • In India, more than two thirds of young women, adolescent girls and men feel that rural village public spaces are unsafe for women after dark.
  • In Cuenca, Ecuador 90 % of women living in urban areas have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the last 12 months.
  • In the European Union, one in ten women have experienced cyberharassment since the age of 15.
  • Sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls in public spaces is rooted in gender inequality and a human rights violation. It is a universal issue with great impact on victims/survivors, their families, and communities, and occurs on a continuum.
  • Fear and experience of sexual violence and crime in public spaces is highly gendered and racialised impacting women’s freedom of movement, and denying them the same opportunity and right to the city as men enjoy.

 

Contents

  • INTRODUCTION
  • COVID-19 AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN PUBLIC SPACES
  • TRENDS AND ISSUES
  • IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON WOMEN’S RIGHT TO THE CITY
  • PRACTICES AND STRATEGIES
  • RECOMMENDATIONS
  • ENDNOTES

 

This document was originally published on the UN Women website.

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