Safe, inclusive spaces for girls everywhere

Girls feel just as unsafe in Australian cities as girls in countries with much higher rates of violence.

This year we conducted a study with Our Watch into Australian girls’ perceptions of spaces after dark. The results showed that one third of the girls don’t feel safe in public places after dark.

“The data tells us girls think the responsibility for violence or sexual harassment towards women and girls rests with them and not the perpetrators of the crimes,” says Plan International Australia Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Susanne Legena

“It’s disheartening that so many girls think they’re better off staying at home than doing things as simple as catching public transport on their own.”

– Susanne Legena

Global research conducted by Plan International reveals girls feel similarly unsafe in cities in Ecuador, Pakistan, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Peru, Vietnam and Egypt. Many of these countries have higher rates of actual violence than in Australia. Girls feel safer in Nicaragua than in Australia, with 23 percent believing they shouldn’t be outside after dark.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos, interviewed 600 Australian girls and young women aged 15-19 from all states and territories. The results were published in the report 'A right to the night:  Australian girls’ on their safety in public spaces'  which gained nationwide media coverage and was featured on the front page of The Age and across radio and digital media.

You can download the report at this link: Download the report.


For the first time in history, there are more people living in cities than in rural areas. Plan International’s research found that adolescent girls seldom feel safe in cities, they experience physical and sexual violence and they are often excluded from decision making processes that impact their safety.

30% of girls in Hanoi, Vietnam report they never feel safe when walking in their community, with only 8% reporting they ‘always’ feel safe in public spaces. Worryingly, the majority of girls reported they either seldom or rarely had access to emergency services like the police.

Plan International identified a major gap in programming and research around adolescent girls’ safety and inclusion in cities.

Together with UN-HABITAT and Women in Cities International, Plan International developed Safer Cities for Girls, a ground-breaking initiative that focusses on adolescent girls with the goal of putting them at the centre of transforming cities into places of inclusion, tolerance and opportunity for all.

From the 2017 financial year Plan International Australia will support the global Safer Cities for Girls Program in Hanoi, Vietnam and Kampala, Uganda. We will also be undertaking baseline work to establish a pilot program in Honiara as part of our growing presence in the Pacific.