Bigger cities less safe for girls

11 October 2019

Media Releases 2019

Growing cities have many problems but not least is the growing insecurity and exploitation experienced by girls, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

SPA bases this on the report by Plan International called Unsafe in the City that focusses on five cities including Sydney. The report states that:

“As our cities’ populations grow, we are seeing an alarming rise in gender discrimination, sexual violence, harassment, insecurity and exploitation. If this isn’t tackled it will become a huge barrier to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of gender equality, SDG 5.”

SPA National President, Ms Sandra Kanck, says that on this the International Day of the Girl (October 11), governments should wake up to this alarming connection between growing cities and increasing gender discrimination.

“The report found that, like their peers in Madrid, Delhi, Kampala and Lima, girls found sexual harassment was prevalent in our capital cities,” says Ms Kanck.

“It is girls, not the men and boys, who are having to change their behaviour, such as stopping studying or quitting their jobs because they feel they cannot get to college or workplace safely.

“Fewer than one in ten incidents of harassment and abuse are reported to authorities yet, when they are reported, in more than two-thirds of cases, girls and young women say no action is taken.”

Ms Kanck says all the SDGs are important but a critical one is SDG5 on gender equality.

“SDG5 calls for an end to all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere, including violence in the public and private spheres. It seeks to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.

“The theme of International Day of the Girl this year centres on girls being unscripted and unstoppable. Yet how can girls aspire to this if they cannot travel safely within their own cities?”

Ms Kanck notes that in the book Drawdown (edited by Paul Hawken), which ranks 80 solutions to climate change, educating girls is number 6 and family planning is number 7.

“These two factors are critical for population stabilisation which, in turn, slows the growth of cities and helps make them safer. Safer cities are critical for girls’ education and welfare, slowing population growth. It’s a virtuous cycle!”


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