On 10 October the region of Murcia won the RegioStar award for the best cohesion policy project in the 'Women empowerment and active participation" category for their EU-funded project on empowering victims of gender-based violence. To congratulate the winner, EU Commissioners Creţu, Jourova and Bulc issued the following statement:
Cities and regions have an undeniable role to prevent gender-based violence and to protect victims of this crime. As a woman you should not hesitate to avoid certain places, because you fear you might be assaulted. Cities and regions also have a duty to make your decision easier and make public spaces safer for women. As the example of Murcia shows, when you focus and join forces, you can find solutions.
Physical and sexual harassment and assault in public spaces, such as public transport are unfortunately an everyday threat for women and girls around Europe. In recent years, there have been a number of widely reported cases of women being assaulted on public transport. Women must be safe in public transport at any time of day.
In the EU, one in every three women has experienced violence since the age of 15. This risk is something that women and girls - young and old, from urban and rural areas - all experience, or fear experiencing.
Empowering and supporting women in business, employment, policy-making and urban and local communities are funding priorities of many regions and countries. Equality between women and men is one of the European Union's founding values.
During the European Week of Regions and Cities, participants discussed the need to guarantee safe public spaces for women and girls. There are many cities around Europe such as Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels and Vienna that have addressed sexual, physical and psychological harassment in public spaces and have taken action to make their cities safer for women and girls. For example in Vienna, the local transport segment of Wiener Stadtwerke Group has implemented a wide range of measures to increase the security of both female passengers and female employees.
But more needs to be done and the pace of change needs to increase.
As mothers, grandmothers and aunts, we encourage governments and civil society to come together to ensure safer cities for our children, grandchildren and nieces.
The region of Murcia won today's RegioStar Award for their EU-funded project which aims to support women who are victims of domestic abuse, by providing training to improve their chances of getting a job. The number of women helped went from 1,192 in 2011 to 3,356 in 2016 and over half of the participants got a job. Information about this project and other nominated projects can be found under the RegioStars Award category 'Women empowerment and active participation'.
The RegioStars Award is part of the European Week of Regions and Cities. More information can be found online here.
Examples of actions from European cities
In Brussels, the online campaign Touche Pas A Ma Pote, in partnership with the City of Brussels and Google, have launched the initiative Her Street View that puts the viewer in the shoes of a girl walking through the city.
The city of Amsterdam has just introduced a tough law imposing severe fines on people who verbally and/or physically intimidate and harass fellow citizens on the street. The city also cooperates with the organisation Hollaback!, which collects stories of street intimidation and harassment.
Efforts are also being stepped up in the public transport sector across Europe. For example, in France, the national rail operator SNCF and cities such as Paris, Lyon and Toulouse - and their local transport companies - have launched the awareness-raising campaign "Stop - Ça suffit!. This is part of the French government's national action plan to combat sexual violence and sexual harassment on public transport (see example from Paris).
In Vienna, the local transport segment of Wiener Stadtwerke Group has implemented a wide range of measures to increase the security of both female passengers and female employees. Indeed, as a recent survey by the European Transport Workers Federation shows, many female transport employees (50%) experience violence from customers and being alone during night shifts makes things worse - although many unfortunately accept this risk as “part of the job”.
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