Vietnam Time

6/29/2018 4:30:42 PM

Look back at 4 years implementing “Safer Cities for Girls” project

(VNF) - Recently, Plan International Vietnam cooperates with Department of Gender Equality, Dong Anh Women’s Union, Hanoi Public Transport Management And Operation Centre and Institute for Development & Community Health LIGHT to organise the review meeting of “Safer cities for girls” project.

The meeting reflects on impactful communication products and achievements from the project, and commits to develop and replicate the project on a larger scale in the future.

At the meeting on June 27th.

For the first time in history, there are more people living in cities than in rural areas. Each month, 5 million people are added to the cities in developing countries. By 2030, this will mean approximately 700 million girls will live in urban areas.

Girls in cities are faced with increased risks as well as increased opportunities. On the one hand, girls face sexual harassment, exploitation, and insecurity as they navigate the urban environment, but are more likely to be educated, less likely to be married at an early age, and more likely to participate in politics.

“With the budget of VND 17,32 billion (USD 762,080), Plan International Vietnam cooperates with local government, international and local NGOs to implement effectively “Safer cities for girls” project from 2014 to 2018. The project promotes girls’ safety in public places and when using public transportation.

“After 4 years, the project has increased awareness of girls, boys, families and the community on the need to ensure girls’ safety in public spaces, leading to a decrease in sexual harassment cases reported. The project has also reached more than 100.000 bus passengers, to inspire and encourage them to take action when girls are in dangerous situations,” said Le Quynh Lan, Hanoi Program Unit Manager of Plan Vietnam.

GIRLS’ VOICES CRUCIAL FOR SAFE CITIES

Cities such as Vietnam’s capital Hanoi provide girls with more opportunities than rural areas. However, they also put girls at a higher risk of abuse.

Around 10,000 adolescent girls travel by bus in Hanoi every month, risking sexual violence harassment and theft. Plan’s research shows that over 40 per cent of girls seldom or never feel safe when using public transport in Hanoi. Lack of safe public transport is one of the greatest barriers stopping girls from moving around cities independently.

Safer Cities for Girls works to tackle unequal power relations and challenge harmful social norms that perpetuate the insecurity and exclusion of girls in cities.

The programme provides girls with a platform to discuss the issues they face and the opportunity to provide input into the development of their cities. It is essential that girls are listened to so their specific needs around sanitation, education, public spaces, transport and access to city services are addressed.

It works with governments and institutions, families and communities, and girls and boys themselves so they can become active citizens and effective change-makers.

RAISING AWARENESS

My, 17, uses the bus to get to school. She says: “On the bus, mobile phones are being stolen and girls are being harassed. A friend was touched and when she objected, she was thrown out of the bus into the street, but the boys were allowed to continue their trip.”

Plan International Vietnam has established a youth media project which spreads awareness about safety on buses. My is a member of the youth group. She says, “We have created 4 comic booklets dealing with the subject of theft, harassment and violence on buses.

“We advise caution. In emergencies, bus drivers or ticket inspectors must help. They are responsible for security in the bus – many people do not know that.”

Pamphlets with messages " Safer cities for girls", "Girls speak up when facing violence!" travelled throughout Hanoi, reaching girls, women and males.

The youth group hand out their comics at bus stops and ticket offices across the city to help keep girls safe on public transport. So far, 40,000 comic books have been distributed to passengers. (Photo: Plan)

In addition, 4,600 bus drivers and ticket collectors have been trained by Plan International to stop girls being abused on buses.

Manh, a ticket collector, is very conscious that women and girls do not get harassed on his bus. He says, before taking part in a training, he had no idea how girls felt when travelling in crowded buses. Participating in the workshop has helped him see from a girl’s point of view.

The Safer Cities for Girls programme has been developed with partner organisations U.N.-Habitat and Women in Cities International.

The programme goal is to build safe, accountable, and inclusive cities with and for adolescent girls (aged 13-18). The expected outcomes of the programme include increased safety and access to public spaces, increased active and meaningful participation in urban development and governance and increased autonomous mobility in the city for girls.

The global programme is currently being implemented in eight cities. Delhi, India; Hanoi, Vietnam; Cairo, Egypt; Kampala, Uganda; Nairobi, Kenya; Lima, Peru; San Francisco, Paraguay, and Honiara, Solomon Islands and hope to scale up to 20 cities globally over the next few years.

Minh Chau  
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