This summer our Plan International Account Manager, Lucy Hawkes, visited our Safer Cities for Girls project in Nairobi, Kenya. Lucy explains how Plan International and CBRE are helping girls to affect the change that they want to see in their communities, and make it safer for them to travel to school and work.

go pros 1The girls that we are working with in the district of Embakasi face horrendous challenges every day, many tell me about being regularly sexually assaulted and harassed on the streets. Some parents are too scared to send their children to school or to the shops, for fear of what might happen. One nine-year-old girl tells me that if she gets lost on her way home in the evening, she can't ask for directions or help because it is known that men will direct her down the wrong street, follow and sexually assault her.

Change is needed in how girls are seen and valued by boys and the community, and girls safety needs to be prioritised. With the help of CBRE, Plan International is working in Embakasi to make the district safer, more accountable and inclusive.

go pros 2Our Safer Cities project, is training girls and boys in a curriculum to promote gender equality; including gender-based violence, healthy relationships, being confident and assertive and campaigning for gender equality. The girls have also carried out Safety Walks to map the dangerous areas of Embakasi and make recommendations for change.

With knowledge, confidence and skills, the young people are now able, with the help of Plan International, to work with the local government and campaign for improvements to the city's infrastructure, for example with installation of street lights and street names. Something as simple as a street name in this informal settlement will allow girls to explain where they are if they are in danger or avoid getting lost in unsafe areas.

go pros 3Girls in Kenya rarely have an opportunity for their voices to be heard, especially when it comes to city planning. Whilst I was visiting the project we trained the young people in how to use small durable go-pro cameras to capture their experiences of the project and show where they want to see change. As well as being lots of fun, the girls and boys found it hugely empowering to learn how to speak on camera and to feel that their views mattered.

We will be bringing you the voices of the girls and boys in Embakasi by sharing their short clips and updates, so you can hear directly how CBRE's fundraising is changing the lives of young people in Nairobi.