Case Study: Leticia's story as a Local Pathways Fellow

Case Study: Leticia's story as a Local Pathways Fellow

“The.. fellowship gave me the tools to make the change I want to see in my city. The program also gave me confidence, independence and power, which I had never experienced before.. Today I continue to fight for a safer city for women, but this time being part of the government.”

Project: The voices of Belo Horizonte women: Collectively building public spaces that are safe and inclusive for all

Fellow: Leticia Pinheiro Rizério Carmo, 2019 Local Pathways Fellow (Belo Horizonte, Brazil)


In Belo Horizonte, Brazil, women and girls face violence not only in their homes and relationships but also in public spaces. Whether due to intimidation, harassment, or fear, violence limits women's mobility, influencing the way women use and occupy the city. This brings deeper reflection on where, how and when women are allowed to walk in their own cities.


To understand how to plan and manage urban environments so that they are safe and inclusive for women and girls, managers and planners must have accurate information about women’s experiences in the city. The best way to do this is by consulting and making them an integral part of the decision-making process. As a Local Pathway Fellow, Leticia organized two large seminars with the Belo Horizonte government, bringing together civil society, academia, and the city council to debate the lack of a gender perspective in the city planning. Also, she organized a Women's Security Audit in the outskirts of Belo Horizonte in order to bring women together to evaluate public spaces' safety and to recommend changes and improvements. The Women's Safety Audit is a participatory methodology designed to provide detailed information on women's safety issues and to empower women to work with local decision-makers for positive change in the community.


The events, workshops, and activities organized during the Local Pathways program brought together more than 200 people, including city officials, students, urban planners, and civil society organizations. The women's safety audit carried out on the university campus gained national attention, as it was part of the urban circuit organized by the UN-Habitat. Besides, in collaboration with civil society organizations, Leticia has secured a budget of approximately $ 20,000 from the state government to finance new mechanisms for reporting harassment on public transport, which will soon be implemented across the city.


During the first six months of research and investigation, followed by another six months of implementing my solution, I cannot count how many times I asked myself, will I make a difference? Dealing with such a complex problem that involves multiple actors made me doubt myself and my ability to make an impact. However, I knew that I should try to put my energy in ideals that I believed, to change the reality of my city.  

I have been harassed many times in Belo Horizonte, both in public spaces and on buses. When I went out alone at night, I felt the fear of not coming home alive. I was afraid for my friends, for my sister, for all the girls I didn't even know. It was this fear of the city that made me want to change it. The Local Pathways program gave me the tools to make that change. The program also gave me confidence, independence, and power, which I had never experienced before. I am proud to have chosen this path. After seven months that I finished the program, I was invited by the city hall to create a gender plan for two important projects in Belo Horizonte. I am now part of the government, and I will continue my fight to create a safer and more inclusive city for women and girls.

Leticia Pinheiro, Local Pathways Fellow (Belo Horizonte, Brazil), UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Youth Initiative

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