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Safer Cities for Girls - São Paulo, Brazil

We are working to build a safe, accountable, and inclusive city with and for adolescent girls.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Safer Cities for Girls is a program model developed in partnership between Plan International (Plan), UN-HABITAT, and Women in Cities International. The program goal is to build safe, accountable, and inclusive cities with and for adolescent girls (aged 13-18). The program aims to achieve changes in the following impact areas: • Increased girls’ safety and access to public spaces. • Increased girls’ active and meaningful participation in urban development and governance. • Increased girls’ autonomous mobility in the city. The program works across three levels of change: (1) with governments and institutions to influence municipal and national actors and policy makers to make laws and city services more receptive and inclusive to girls’ safety; (2) with families and communities to promote a supportive social environment that promotes girls’ safety and inclusion in cities; and (3) with girls and boys themselves to engage them to be active citizens and agents of change by building capacities, strengthening assets, and creating opportunities for meaningful participation. By working to confront social and cultural norms that allow for the manifestation of unequal gender power relations across these three levels, girls’ lives in cities will be transformed, reflected in a fundamental shift of their social positions. The project will work to engage adolescent girls and boys in the Capão Redondo community of São Paulo, Brazil. Example project activities include: Safety walks led by girls to identify factors that make them feel safe and unsafe and to develop recommendations for improvement; Gender-sensitive, child-centered and inclusive community scorecards to assess the quality of city services and spaces that are relevant to adolescent girls; Interface meetings with government stakeholders, community members and adolescent girls to review research findings, discuss issues and agree to action items.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our direct beneficiaries will be 210 girls (aged 13-18) and 70 boys (aged 13-18) who are living in the Capão Redondo community of São Paulo, Brazil and who will be enrolled in youth clubs facilitated by Plan. Participants will meet regularly to discuss and resolve issues and recommendations for improving their community, as well as participate in a training curriculum on gender equality and girls' rights. We will also directly engage 1,000 community stakeholders (families and community members) in support of activities led by the girls and boys. We will engage staff of government institutions, local and state police, and transportation companies in activities around adolescent girls' safety in cities. Benefits of the project, such as improvements to physical community infrastructure constructed to increase safety as part of the project, will benefit the full 288,552 residents of the Capão Redondo community.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

There is a gap in programming on adolescent girls’ safety in urban spaces, as girls tend to be ignored in programming aimed at ‘youth’ or ‘women’ or crime prevention initiatives targeting young men. Plan is putting adolescent girls at the center of this program. This will allow the program to comprehensively address girls' experiences in their communities. The built environment, how people use public spaces, as well as the actual and perceived safety of girls will be addressed to overcome girls' fears or anxieties that may have consequences for what girls are and are not able to do in the city. Additionally, this project strives to be gender transformative. It tackles unequal power and challenges harmful social norms that perpetuate insecurity and exclusion of girls in cities. A gender transformative project is one that goes beyond improving the condition of women and girls and seeks to improve their social position and full realization of their rights.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Majority Adoption: I have expanded the pilot significantly and the program product or service has been adopted by the majority of our intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

As populations in cities continue to increase, we wanted to know how this affects adolescent girls. In a research study across five global cities, they told us about their dreams of future cities that were well-lit and maintained and where they were given space to participate. We are inspired by the girls in São Paulo, Brazil specifically, who are empowered to create change in their community and use Plan International as a platform to do so.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Our project focuses on the interactions girls have in their urban physical and social environment (peace) and how that affects their opportunities to reap the full benefits of their communities (prosperity). Lack of community peace and high rates of gender-based violence are major issues in Capão Redondo. In our community context study, we found 70 homicides and 3,988 occurrences of robberies in the community in 2015. Girls living in Capão Redondo report that they daily face sexual harassment and insecurity as they navigate the urban environment. This normalization of violence is directly affecting girls' rights and their ability to develop their full potential. The State Secretary of Culture of São Paulo’s Index of Youth Vulnerability cited Capão Redondo among the districts with the highest youth vulnerability. Life expectancy is 58 years, while in areas in São Paulo just a few miles away it is 78 years. Per Capita Income is only R$541 (USD $146).

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The project works to build safe, accountable, and inclusive cities with and for adolescent girls. Any activities to improve their physical and social community environment will be based on suggestions and action taken by adolescent girl participants in the project. Parents and key stakeholders from the community will also be involved. For our context study, we already mapped key community actors and conducted two focus groups with adolescents and their families. It is critical to work with at all levels for lasting change. Key government institutions have been identified, including the local Secretaries for Education, Health and Social Assistance, for example, who have already shown their availability to collaborate with policy reviews to assess safety of girls, participate in interface meetings with adolescent girls and community stakeholders to review findings and agree action items, and participate in trainings.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The greatest strengths in Capão Redondo come from the participating adolescents themselves. They are highly articulate, organized, and motivated to improve their community. In our context study, they expressed their desire for strategies to work on gender equality and promote new models of masculinity. They also stressed that it was essential to create prevention and care programs for victims of sexual violence and stimulate the deconstruction of gender stereotypes that justify this violence.

Geographic Focus

Capão Redondo community of São Paulo, Brazil

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

36 months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No
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Attachments (2)

Levels of Assessment.PNG

An initial assessment provides information on local priorities, issues, and ideas on how to design a locally-led program and maximize potential for positive change for girls in urban settings. Girls have the opportunity to discuss the issues they are facing and to offer their own innovative ideas for making improvements to their city.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Dr. Anishta null

Hello Plan International USA! I must say this is a great initiative and I just discovered that you work in Pakistan as well. It is a very crucial requirement in today's society for women to feel safe independent and empowered and in this way we both are working towards the same target. We do this by engaging female health providers who are unable to work due to social restrictions or unsafe environments by using technology to connect them to rural communities.

Best of luck for your project! :)

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