The United Nations & Harassment on transit.

Did you know that Women’s safety on transit is such a serious issue  that even the United Nations weighed in on the matter?


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In 2011 the UN Women Committee created their Safe Cities Global Initiative. Included in this are best practices for making public transit safer for women and girls. Here we are going to highlight a few recommendations from that initiative that Hollaback! and the Metro Vancouver Transit Police are already recognizing through their common mandates, making us natural partners


Advocate for gendered safety considerations as important issues that complement and do not detract from other transit concerns.  

Public transit, being a public agency and government funded is an inherently political topic that often ignites community debate.

Freedom of mobility is a right of all community members, so when resources are dedicated to making transit safer for women and girls, it is important to acknowledge that making transit safer for vulnerable riders – benefits ALL vulnerable riders – this often includes the distinct needs of old and young people, the disabled, and other vulnerable groups. Also, increasing reliability and safety of public transportation will likely lead to an increase in ridership, which of course has positive financial and environmental impact for the whole community.


Represent men and women equally among transit staff and public officials.


“A larger and more gender-mixed staff presence among transport officials may encourage women, girls and other people that experience harassment, abuse, robbery or any type of violent act to make a complaint. Likewise, the combination of more staff and the more equal representation of both women and men may help to deter violent acts in the first place”


Coordinate all actions related to safe public transit initiatives.

It is logical to partner with agencies that share the mandate of reducing violence against women. Our community is full of valuable resources and experts, and bringing them together is important to strengthen plans, policies, campaigns and resources and also avoid unnecessary duplication of services or messages.  All of the blogging and tweeting we do using #transittuesdays is a perfect example of the recommendation stating:

 “Produce and distribute materials about safety to public transit users.”








Above  is the 2-sided info card that Hollaback and Metro Vancouver Transit Police collaborated on. We wanted the campaign to emphasize :


  • Recognizing what harassment is and that harassment is not a compliment, hence the hash tag #itsnotacompliment
  • Bystanders have a very valuable role in acting when they see something that isn’t right
  • How to report or get assistance for non-emergency issues on transit, like street harassment, which is of course the text reporting.



Do you have any suggestions on what more can be done to make Vancouver Transit safer? Do you have a harassment on transit story to share?

Please join in on the #transittuesday conversation on twitter:





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