SDG action in Brussels: Young people are using photography to make “Our safe cities”

Teenagers in Brussels used photography to show what is needed to make their city safer. They expressed their opinion and gave a voice to young people experiencing sexism in public spaces. The project “Our safe cities” highlights their stories.

Copyright: Plan International Belgium — Yaara. Graffiti reading “ME SIFFLE PAS JSUIS PAS TA CHIENNE” — ‘Do not whistle at me, I am not a dog”.

*Contributor article by Canon’s Imaging For Good and Plan International

Young people are at the forefront of social change. The power of a camera can change the views of a city and that is what “Our safe cities” does. To show what is needed to make their city safer, 14 teenagers took to the streets of Brussels with cameras to tell their stories. A lack of gender equality in public spaces and safety at night are some concerns that they showcase through Plan International in Belgium and the Young People Programme.

“The way to equality is not going to be easy, but we will make it”

How does a safe city look like? Along with five other cities around the world, in Brussels, a group of young people were given the chance to show a different side to their city: the way it feels to them.

Lead by Plan International in Belgium, the project “Our safe cities” was born to challenge political decision-makers to take action and make public spaces safer for females. Armed with a camera, their own ideas and the guidance of international photographers and Canon Ambassadors Bieke de Poorter and Mashid Mohadjerin, they brought to life their concerns, vulnerabilities and experiences.

“For one person ‘danger’ could be in the poor quality of air, for another high levels of fast traffic. And while these are serious concerns for everyone, it is a sad fact that for women and girls all over the world, simply venturing into their cities can feel like running a gauntlet of risk.”

“As young activists, we want to break stereotypes and improve the situation for all girls and boys”

“Our safe cities” is a creative project that shows teenagers’ views on their cities after they’ve gained knowledge about photography and gender equality. After their experience, they formed a youth forum and presented at the Belgian Parliament. They are being taken seriously and proving that it is possible for young people to drive action and manifest social change.

“We realized that young girls and boys feel trapped in boxes. As a boy, you must be dominant, muscular, do sports, show no emotions, … As a girl, you must be pretty, kind, sensitive… But what if a girl loves football? What if a boy cries? ”, Manuela

“In some areas of the city of Brussels, there are narrow streets. Especially near metro stations. If it’s dark, it is very uncomfortable. We don’t see who is there and if we are followed it is hard to escape ”, Natanael


Copyright: Plan International Belgium — Manuela
Copyright: Plan International Belgium — Natanael
Copyright: Plan International Belgium — Yaara
Copyright: Plan International Belgium — Manuela
Copyright: Plan International Belgium — Ibrahima

*Read the original article

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