2030 Agenda, Habitat III, Safe Cities

Seventh International Anti-Street Harassment Week

The Huairou Commission is proud to participate in the seventh annual International Anti-Street Harassment Week, observed from April 2 to 8. We are joining groups in more than 35 countries who are participating in the awareness-raising week to tackle the prevalent social problem of street harassment.

 

Occupying public spaces is critical for women to organize, participate in their communities, and enjoy opportunities that cities offer, such as employment and access to health and other basic services. However, because of persistent fear of sexual harassment and violence, women are not able to experience public spaces with the same freedom as men. Building off their lived experience in communities, grassroots women have taken an approach to safer cities and public spaces with 3 key components:

 

1) Reclaiming public spaces and increasing women’s mobility in cities as a form of empowerment to prevent and respond to sexual harassment;

2) Utilizing tools such as safety audits, indicators, and awareness campaigns that have proven impact; and

3) Partnering with authorities to mainstream and institutionalize grassroots women’s recommendations into policy and implementation.

Young girls protesting against street harassment in Dhaka.
PHOTO CREDIT PDAP

These strategies have received greater visibility through the global network of the Huairou Commission. For International Anti-Street Harassment Week, we honor that tradition by sharing impact stories from our network.

On International Women’s Day 2017 (March 8th), Participatory Development Action Program (PDAP) organized a campaign against street harassment in Dhaka, Bangladesh. To create awareness of the issue, staff and field workers led a rally and human chain with young girls and other stakeholders. The rally ended at the Dhaka national monument, where Ms. Quazi Baby, PDAP Executive Director and activist, gave a rousing speech against street harassment and child sexual abuse. PDAP has risen as a champion for young women and girls in Bangladesh, helping them obtain legal birth certificates as a means of protecting them against child marriage.

In Metro Manila, Philippines, Damanyan ng Maralitang Piipinong Api (DAMPA) has actively contributed to the UN Women Global Flagship Initiative Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces. DAMPA Community Organizer Gigile Saguran was recently featured on Reel Time, a television program on the national GMA Public Affairs network; in a documentary focused on sexual harassment in public spaces, Ms. Saguran shared her experience of being harassed on public transportation. The video can be accessed here (not available in the USA).

 
“It is very common that it happens to you, almost all my friends, including me, have been harassed on the street. But you are ashamed of it. You do not want the people around you to know and start talking behind your back, so you do not talk about it or denounce it. It is a silent problem.”
– Gigile Saguran, DAMPA (as quoted in El País)

 

Representing Huairou’s founding member Latin American Women and Habitat Network in Peru, the NGO Flora Tristán took a different approach in Lima. The organization is a leading figure in the Lima safe public spaces movement, and advocates for streets to honor women in their names and with commemorative plaques. A study has shown that the majority of streets in the city carry masculine names, reflecting an embedded inequality among women and men: 28.7% of street carry men’s names and only 3.3% have women’s; of the latter, 56.6% refer to Catholic saints or virgins. Read more in this article (in Spanish) in RPP Noticias.

 

To share your story and to join International Anti-Street Harassment Week, visit www.MeetUsontheStreet.org. Use #EndSH on social media.

 

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