Mexico City hosts global forum on safe cities for women and girls

Date: Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Global forum on Safe cities and public spaces

From 22 to 25 February, more than 200 urban experts and community leaders from all continents will gather in Mexico City to share evidence-based approaches, tools and best practices to make urban public spaces safe and empowering for women and girls. 

The three-day “Safe, Empowering and Sustainable City Approaches in Action for Women and Girls” event will begin on 22 February at the Interactive Museum of Economy and l continue to be hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 23 and 24 February. UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri will participate at the closing ceremony and host the Global Meeting of Mayors on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment on 25 February at the Mayoral Palace Patio Virreinal, where 20 Mayors from cities around the world are expected to present their commitments to gender equality and making their cities safe and empowering for women and girls.

Quick facts from Mexico City

  • According to the National Violence against Women Survey 50 per cent of women in Mexico City have experienced community violence throughout their lives, as opposed to 32 per cent of women nationally, and 20 per cent have experienced community violence in the year prior to the survey. [INEGI (2011). National VAW Survey]
  • Women in Mexico City use public transport more than private transport. Of those women who travel on a daily basis, nearly 77 per cent use public transport and around 23 per cent use private transport compared to around 64 per cent of men that use public transport, and about 36 per cent of men that use private transport. [INEGI (2007). Survey on the origin and destination of the journeys of the residents in the greater Mexico City metropolitan area.]
  • 77 per cent of women in Mexico City feel insecure living in and moving around the city. [INEGI (2014). National Survey on Victimization and Perceptions on Public Security] More than 50 per cent of women who have experienced sexual harassment or any other form of sexual violence in Mexico City said that it has had an emotional and psychological negative impact on them. [INEGI (2011). National VAW Survey.]

The third biennial Global Forum on Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces provides a platform exclusively focusing on safety of women and girls in urban spaces. Over the next three days, it will facilitate the sharing of first-hand knowledge among practitioners towards comprehensive, multi-sectoral and human rights-based approaches to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls in public spaces. It will also produce a Global Commitment to Action.

Making cities safe, empowering and sustainable for women and girls is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by all countries (specifically SDGs 4,5,11, and 16). In order to achieve gender equality by 2030, it is imperative that our urban spaces, a critical vehicle of growth and development, do not leave behind women and girls.

Mexico City is one of the 20 cities around the world participating in UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Flagship Programme Initiative. Representatives of the multidisciplinary teams implementing their local flagship programmes—including grassroots women, municipal authorities, researchers, media representatives, private sector, in addition to global networks specializing on women’s safety—will be participating in the Global Forum.

For updates from the Forum, please follow @onumujeresmx and @onumujeres (Spanish). Hashtags: #SafeCities (English) / #ciudadesseguras (Spanish)

About Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Flagship Programme

UN Women’s Global Flagship Initiative, “Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces for Women and girls” is the first-ever global programme that develops, implements and evaluates tools, policies and comprehensive approaches on the prevention of and response to sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls. It began with founding programmes in Quito, Ecuador; Cairo, Egypt; New Delhi, India; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; and Kigali, Rwanda, and now spans more than 25 cities.

UN Women’s work on Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces

Women only buses known as ‘Atenea buses’ in Mexico City. Photo: UN Women/Juan Luis Cedeñoy

Improving women’s safety in Mexico City
In Mexico City, nine in ten women have experienced violence in public transport. Through the “Mexico City Safe City and Safe Public Spaces for women and girls” programme, UN Women is promoting women’s safety, including through women-only buses.


Women ride a Meri Seif Bus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Photo: UN Women/Marc Dozier

Making public transport safe for women and girls in Papua New Guinea
In Papua New Guinea, more than 90 per cent of women and girls have experienced some form of violence when using public transport. UN Women’s Safe Public Transport for Women and Children has launched safe buses, trained transport authorities and engaged communities in awareness raising.


Winners of the Student Category, Lester’s Pips from PLM University. Left to right: Marc Joseph S. Aviñante, Ma. Richelle B. Aguilar, Allen Benedict J. Magpoc, Roemil G. Cabal. Photo: UN Women Safe Cities Manila Programme

Hacking to combat sexual harassment in Philippines
In Quezon City, three out of five women experience sexual harassment in public spaces. For girls aged 18 – 24, the prevalence is even higher. As part of UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Flagship Programme Initiative, the Metro Manila Programme held the first-ever hackathon in May 2016, to seek mobile technology solutions to sexual harassment and violence against women and girls in public spaces.


Bringing bus drivers on board against sexual harassment in Marrakesh
UN Women Morocco and private bus company ALSA is working to integrate the issue of sexual violence prevention in ALSA‘s drivers' training modules. Under the agreement bus and taxi drivers will be trained and sensitization videos on sexual harassment will be broadcast on the buses’ screens.

Gender and the New Urban Agenda
A woman in Quito, Ecuador.

At Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, UN Women will continue to advocate for and support including women's rights at the heart of the New Urban Agenda. More

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