Urban experiences to fight sexual harassment in metropolises

Security and Public Spaces
Luis-Charles Dumais

As part of the 12th Metropolis World Congress held in Montreal this June, there was a session called “Security and Public Spaces: Good Experiences from a Gender Mainstreaming Approach” aimed at sharing good experiences Metropolis members have had in fighting sexual harassment against women in public spaces.

Barcelona, Montreal and Seoul were the metropolises charged with sharing the projects being implemented in their cities, accompanied by the Mafubo International Federation, with President Monique Mujawamariya; the association Women in Cities International from Montreal, with Executive Director Kathryn Travers as the moderator; and the experience of academic and violence specialist from the University of Buenos Aires, Sandra Bustamante.


President of the Seoul Foundation of Women and Family Angela Kang presented a variety of initiatives, including the programme Mapo-gu: sexual harassment free neighbourhoods and the mobile app: Ansimi.


Montreal City Councillor for Culture, Heritage, Design, the Space for Life, and the Status of Women Manon Gauthier shared the planning guide for a safe urban environment in the city of Montreal.


President of Metropolis Women and Barcelona City Councillor for Feminism and LGTBI Laura Pérez Castaño, who closed the session with the exposition of some good experiences as:  The Action Protocol in nighttime leisure with economic stakeholders and the action Protocol in district festivities with the help of the neighborhood communities and other social actors present in the district.

Ensuring the democratic and egalitarian right to the city by raising awareness of the need to create safe, inclusive, accessible public spaces is one of the core strategic lines of Metropolis Women.

Sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence in public spaces limit the rights of women and girls to the city, a right established in SDG 11 (Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) and SDG 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls), which are both specific goals under the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. 

Governments, in particular on a municipal level, must ensure SDG 5.2 is implemented: "eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation" in order to subvert the disenfranchisement of women and girls in urban and rural spaces, helping them take back the city.