19 April, Nairobi - Plan International recently launched their programme ‘Safer Cities for Girls’ in Kenya with the help of UN-Habitat. The programme launch started with a one-week workshop with community leaders, all young men and women from Jipange Youth Groups – a coalition of youth groups that empowers young people and promotes the practice of good governance on community development projects.

The programme focuses on improving safety for girls in cities, using a multi-faceted approach. This includes working with local community members, local authorities, local and national governments and community-based NGOs. The programme is currently running in 5 other cities: Cairo, Egypt; Delhi, India; Hanoi, Vietnam; Kampala, Uganda and Lima, Peru.

UN-Habitat participated in the launch to share experience and knowledge, based on the UN-Habitat ‘Safer Cities Programme’ and on-going work on improving gender equality in cities. David Thomas of UN-Habitat’s gender unit participated in a panel discussion on ‘Challenges for Girls in Nairobi.’ He highlighted that the perception of safety and the threat of violence are as restricting as the violence itself. This threat restricts women’s freedom of movement, which in turn impairs their access to education, employment, healthcare and basic services.

First-hand experiences in Nairobi

This discussion led to an open ‘fishbowl’ exercise, where the participants shared their experiences. Safety on public transport emerged as a key theme, as well as changing behaviours and attitudes. The local participants also spoke of their eagerness to engage with local authorities and work together towards a safe and inclusive city.

Plan International works in over 70 countries and focuses on advancing children's rights and equality for girls.