Developed as part of a partnership with UN Women, as part of the Safe Cities Global Initiative, the Safe Cities Metro Manila (SC MM) promotes deeper understanding of the lack of security that women in the country feel as they move about in the city — using public transport, lining up in terminals, going around markets/malls, and even just walking home in their own neighborhoods. Whether due to shame or fear, women traditionally just ignore and keep silent about the various forms of sexual harassment that they experience such as catcalls, sexual innuendos, stalking or repeated harassment for their numbers, male public exposure, rubbing or groping (panghihipo) inside the MRT or jeepneys, and lascivious and indecent hollering after them.
Previous phases of Safe Cities Manila were implemented in Quezon City, the largest city in Metropolitan Manila with a total population of 3 million. Notable results include the passing of local legislation that increased penalties for sexual harassment (including verbal harassment) in public spaces - the first such legal protection the country, as well as the first-ever data on sexual harassment and sexual violence against women and girls in public spaces in the country. The results showed that over 60% or 3 in 5 women have experienced sexual harassment at least once in their life. Prevalence rose to 88% among women aged 18-24.
The second phase includes replication and scale-up of the Safe Cities Programme across the 16 other cities in Metro Manila with Quezon City as a leading champion on the evidence-based policy and programme interventions. The proposal aims to achieve two key results towards the outcomes of investments in the safety and viability of public spaces and social and cultural transformation of attitudes and behaviours:
RESULT 1: Gender-responsive budget initiatives of local government units to invest in public infrastructure to reduce the risk of sexual harassment and sexual violence against women in public spaces. A Safe Cities Workshop will be conducted for all the budget departments of the 16 cities and 1 municipality of Metro Manila on strategic allocation of the budget for improving urban safety. Coaching, assessments and good practices will also be provided to encourage government investment in women's safety.
RESULT 2: Regional public-education campaign through mobile technology (such as Safetipin) will be implemented in at least 8 new cities in Metro Manila to increase bystander and community involvement in responding to incidents of sexual harassment of women in public spaces and improve prevention. A 2-year communications strategy to sustain behavioural change plus related advocacy materials and communication events for various media will also be developed.