The City of Calgary joins The UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Flagship Initiative

On 2023 February 16, The City of Calgary became a member of  UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Flagship Initiative. In doing so Calgary joins a growing global movement that recognizes and values safety in our community.

Calgarians deserve to feel safe and be safe, no matter where they live, work, learn or play. The City’s collaboration with the Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Flagship Initiative recognizes that race, gender, gender identity, household income, and the community, all play a key role in feeling safe or unsafe.

“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. 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,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek of The City of Calgary.

In 2022, The City conducted a public opinion survey about street harassment. Data showed that members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are less likely than others to agree they would know what to say or do if they experienced street harassment (62% vs. 80%) and more likely than others to have ever personally experienced street harassment (84% vs. 49%) and/or witnessed it (85% vs. 60%). Those who identify as a racialized or Indigenous person are less likely to believe that unwanted comments about one’s gender (53% vs. 69%) or religion (56% vs. 69%) should always be considered harassment and more likely to think unwanted comments about a person’s gender is sometimes’ harassment (23% vs. 13% others). Street harassment has an overall effect on us all and is disproportionally experienced by females, racialized or Indigenous persons, people who wear clothing or symbols that show their religion, and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.  

Some people, particularly females, often avoid certain activities (e.g., walking outside/in public places when it’s dark out, going somewhere alone) specifically to reduce the chances of experiencing street harassment because it impacts them. Nearly one-half (45%) of Calgarians say street harassment has a moderate (28%) or major (17%) negative impact on their quality of life. The most common way in which it has a negative impact is on one’s emotional or mental state (50% of those who have experienced street harassment have experienced at least one minor negative impact on their quality of life).

“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.  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,” said   Sima Bahous, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women

Calgary Safe City Initiative will collaborate with member cities, researchers, and community partners to address gender-based harassment. Calgarians will not accept any form of harassment. The city will learn from the best practices of participating cities in the Global Initiative and the expertise of Calgary-based partners to create safer public spaces for women and for all.