PARTNERSHIP Agreements aimed at promoting “Safer Cities for Girls” have been signed-in a tripartite arrangement involving the Plan International Solomon Islands (PISI), the Honiara City Council (HCC) and the Young Women’s Christian Association, (YWCA).
City Clerk Rence Sore and the Country Program Manager of Plan International Solomon Islands, Ella Kauhue signed the first accord last Friday, the partners announced in a statement yesterday.
The second Agreement with the YWCA was signed by the Association’s General Secretary Jocelyn Lai and Ms. Kauhue on Friday 13th November 2020, the statement said.
Ms. Kauhue has acknowledged both organizations for their willingness to partner with Plan International Solomon Islands “to implement the Safer Cities for Girls Program and to stand together to address issues affecting young girls in Honiara City and the surrounding settlements.”
“The overarching goal of the “Safer Cities for Girls Project” is to build safe, accountable, and inclusive cities with and for adolescent girls. It also aims to influence governments and policymakers to make laws and city services more receptive and inclusive to girls’ safety and influence families and communities to promote a supportive social environment that promotes girls’ safety and inclusion in cities.
“It also aims at engaging adolescent girls to be active citizens and agents of change by building capacities, strengthening assets, and creating opportunities for meaningful participation,” the statement said.
Under the Agreements, HCC and YWCA will jointly develop initiatives to engage adolescent girls and boys as champions of change for gender equality, girls’ rights, and girls’ safety.
“The other initiatives would be to increase the engagement of adolescent girls’ groups with government authorities, Civil Society Organizations, women’s movements and boys’ champions of change and increase engagement and action of adolescent girls and boys to improve the safety of girls in Honiara City.
Six clubs – four girls’ clubs and two boys’ clubs have been established in Honiara under the project.
“The bottom line of the program, Safer City for Girls, is not just how safe girls actually are in the cities, but to change how they perceive their own safety,” the statement said.
According to baseline research released in Honiara, this year adolescent girls in Honiara do not feel safe in public spaces and on public transport.
The report, “It’s Not Really Safe for Us Girls” showed that 93 percent of the girls who participated in the research do not always feel safe in public spaces while 95 percent say they do not feel safe on public transport.
“The reasons why girls do not feel safe include high levels of sexist behaviors and sexual harassment they have experienced, or fear they will experience in public.
“The five perceived risks for girls in public spaces are people who are drunk, theft, verbal harassment, touching, and rape. Public transport such as buses and taxis are also not safe for young girls because often drivers and bus conductors are drunk,” the report said.
The report has suggested actions that could be taken to reduce the fear in girls using public spaces and transport.
They include the development of program strategy with key stakeholders on how to change gender norms and address sexual harassment, support schools, and public transport providers to listen to what girls are saying on how to improve their safety, work in partnership with the Honiara City Council to include adolescent girls in decision making about public space and support government workers to undergo training as part of the Safer Cities for Girls program.
It also suggests influencing existing groups to create an online space where girls can make decisions on their safety and collaborate with existing projects that support the elimination of violence against women and girls.