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In July last year the Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign proclaimed every 25th of the month as Orange Day. Initiated and led by the UNiTE campaign Global Youth Network, worldwide activities implemented on this day by UN country offices and civil society organizations strive to highlight issues relevant to preventing and ending violence against women and girls, not only once a year, on 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), but every month.
Under the heading ‘Safe Spaces for Women and Girls’, this year the UNiTE campaign is focusing its Orange Day activities on highlighting recommendations of the agreed conclusions of the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57) which took place in March this year. In April, UNiTE focused on ‘Safe Work Places for Women and Girls’, in May, ‘Safe Homes for Women and Girls’ while in June, Orange Day coincided with the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (June 26th) and the campaign focused on ‘State Custody and Care as Safe Spaces’ . In July it drew attention to ‘Cyber Space as Safe Space for Women and Girls’ while the theme for August was ‘Sexual Violence against Women and Girls in Conflict’. Ahead of the International Day of the Girl Child (October 11th), the theme in September was ‘Safe Schools for Girls’ and on October 25 the UNiTE campaign will highlight ‘Safe Public Spaces for Women and Girls’.
SAFE PUBLIC SPACES FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS
Sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence in public spaces is an everyday occurrence for women and girls around the world and is a violation of women’s human rights. Women and girls experience various types of sexual violence in public spaces including sexual harassment, rape, and femicide. This violence may take place on the street, on public transport, in parks, in and around schools, places of employment, and other public spaces in urban and rural areas. Some cases are publicized and receive media and public attention, while most cases go unreported and unaddressed.
Violence and the fear of violence reduces women’s freedom of movement and rights to access education, work, recreation, and essential services, and can restrict their participation in political life. It also negatively affects their health and well-being. Despite these wide-ranging consequences, violence against women and girls in public spaces remains a neglected area, with few laws or policies in place to prevent and address it.
57th COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
At the 57th Session on the Commission of the Status of Women, governments made specific commitments directed towards making public spaces safer for women and girls.
For the first time the Commission on the Status of Women, the highest global normative body on women’s rights, during its 57th Session specifically included several clauses in its Agreed Conclusions document devoted to safety of women and girls in public spaces, and particularly, in the cities. It expressed “deep concern about violence against women and girls in public spaces, including sexual harassment, especially when it is being used to intimidate women and girls who are exercising any of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.” (23, p4)
It called on the States “to increase measures to protect women and girls from violence and harassment, including sexual harassment and bullying, in both public and private spaces, to address security and safety, through awareness-raising, involvement of local communities, crime prevention laws, policies, programmes such as the Safe Cities Initiative of the United Nations. (ZZ, p13)
SAFE CITIES GLOBAL INITIATIVE
Launched in 2010 by UN Women, the Safe Cities Global Initiative, involving over 15 cities is working to make cities safer for women and girls. The Initiative builds on earlier efforts undertaken by women’s rights organizations and local governments in cities around the world, and is mobilizing more partners at all levels of society through two main programmes:
The Safe Cities Global Initiative forms part of a larger global movement dedicated to building safe and inclusive cities with and for women and girls to end sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women and girls in public spaces.
Initial activities in the local communities revealed that, often for the first time, women and girls are identifying sexual harassment and fear of sexual violence in public spaces as barriers in their lives. The programmes have also engaged men and youth. By launching their safe city programme, local governments have committed to develop strategic and effective prevention strategies that other countries and municipalities can learn from and adapt. Learn more.
ORANGE DAY ACTIVITIES (25th October)
This month, the UNiTE campaign’s Orange Day will focus on Safe Public Spaces for women and girls.
What can you do?
SAMPLE SOCIAL MEDIA MESSAGES
Sample Facebook messages
The UNiTE campaign has declared the 25th of each month #OrangeDay. This month we are highlighting ‘Safe Public Spaces for Women and Girls’. Join the tweetathon on violence against women and girls in public spaces, and what can be done to eradicate it. http://owl.li/mlJkg
Today – 25 October – is #OrangeDay, a day to highlight violence against women and girls. This month, we are focusing on ‘Safe Public Spaces for Women and Girls’. Bring your community together to talk about whether your area is safe, and what measures could be introduced. http://owl.li/mlJkg
Today is #OrangeDay. Is your city part of the Safe Cities initiative? Write to your municipality and invite them to participate. http://owl.li/mlJkg
Sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence in public spaces is an everyday occurrence for women and girls around the world. Are public spaces safe for women and girls in your city? How can we make cities safer? What is the Safe Cities Global Initiative? Join the [@SayNO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women] tweetathon all day on 25 October! http://owl.li/mlJkg