Nov. 25 – Dec. 10 are the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. To commemorate the week, we will feature 1 activism idea per day, starting tomorrow.
Today, I wanted to express gratitude and acknowledgement that gender-based street harassment, or sexual violence in public spaces, is gaining much more widespread recognition as a problem. Here are two examples from this year that clearly illustrate this.
1. In April groups in 41 countries took action in support of safe public spaces through our International Anti-Street Harassment Week, from Australia to Zimbabwe and dozens of countries in between. You can view photos and read a recap (and plan to join us April 10-16, 2016!). It’s heartening to see so many people dedicate time and energy to this cause.
2. UN Women hosted a Safe Cities Global Leaders’ Forum in June, and 140 people from 24 countries gathered in Delhi, India, to share ideas about the best strategies to address sexual violence in public spaces. Attendees included government officials, grassroots women, researchers, and staff from UN agencies that are implementing programs that form part of the agency’s Safe Cities Global Initiative (SCGI).
The SCGI works with local organizations and governments to tackle sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence in public spaces. Launched in New Delhi in November 2010 with five cities, it now includes 22 cities. Representatives from these cities, as well as from other groups working on safe cities work, were present at the forum.
For too long, street harassment has been seen as normal, no big deal, or the fault of harassed persons. Those attitudes are quickly falling away and in their place are thousands of people worldwide who are dedicating time, energy, and expertise to making public places safer for everyone. For that, I am grateful.
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