Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
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On January 11, SGI-USA cosponsored the Second Annual Special Assembly of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women at its Culture of Peace Resource Center in Santa Monica, California. The theme of the assembly was "Safe Cities: LA," focusing on how to make Los Angeles a safer and more equitable city for women and girls. Some 100 people, including community organizers and entrepreneurs, attended the event, part of UN Women's Safe Cities Global Initiative.
With the goal of laying the groundwork for a future when Los Angeles would be declared a UN Safe City, the assembly featured presentations, short films, performances, and a panel discussion of speakers involved in community development and safety issues from victim support to policing. Participants also broke into smaller groups to discuss topics such as exploitation and human trafficking, bullying in schools, access and agency, urban environments and health, and emotional well-being and creative expression.
Highlights of the event included Santa Monica Mayor Pam O'Conner's declaration that January 11 be made UN Global Safe City Day in Santa Monica, as well the sharing of stories of personal triumph over the dangers of urban life. In one short film about Blank Noise, a community project based in India that aims to confront street harassment, citizens were shown making "Safe City Pledges" in which they vow to take personal action to stop street violence and make cities safer. At the LA event, assembly attendees were also invited to write their own Safe City pledges.
UN Women, full title the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, launched the Safe Cities Global Initiative in 2010 to develop comprehensive approaches to the prevention of and response to sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls in public spaces.
The holding of this assembly at the SGI-USA Culture of Peace Resource Center, which opened in 2005, fits with the center's mandate to serve as a hub for expanding informational networks and civil education to support the UN's Culture of Peace program.
[Adapted from a report from SGI-USA; photos courtesy of SGI-USA]
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