Calgary pledges to make city safer for women by joining United Nations initiative

The City of Calgary is pledging to make the city safer for women by joining the UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Flagship Initiative.

The initiative aims to prioritize women’s safety through an intersectional lens, according to the United Nations’ official website. The initiative includes women-led research, policies developed by women’s rights organizations and urban planning centred around experiences of marginalized women.

The city said it recognizes safety as an intersectional issue involving race, gender, gender identity, household income, and communities. As members of the initiative, the city will collaborate with researchers and other member cities to find ways to create a safe and inclusive city for women and other equity-deserving groups.

“Women, girls, 2SLGBTQIA+, non-binary, and gender diverse people experience higher rates of all forms of gender-based and sexualized violence, including harassment and as a result do not enjoy the same freedom of movement or level of access to public spaces,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek in an emailed statement.

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“Our participation in the UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Initiative strengthens our commitment towards gender equality and ending harassment and other forms of violence on the streets of Calgary. It is important for Calgary to continue its efforts in becoming a diverse and inclusive municipality.”

The city referenced a street harassment survey it conducted in 2022, which found street harassment is disproportionately experienced by women, racialized or Indigenous persons, people who wear clothing or symbols that show their religion, and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Some people, particularly women, avoid certain activities to reduce the chances of experiencing street harassment.

“Sexual harassment of women and girls in public spaces is too often normalized, silenced, and trivialized. UN Women welcomes the city of Calgary to the growing number of cities in Canada and across the world that are building Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces as part of Generation Equality,” said Sima Bahous, executive director of UN Women.

“Calgary now joins hands with the United Nations, women’s organizations, feminist movements, youth groups and 53 cities around the world, to end all forms of violence against women, so that the opportunities Calgary provides can be realized in full by women and girls.”

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