Safer cities for women: the finalists
Since the emergence of the #MeToo hashtag in 2017, the disturbing reality of the scale of violence against women at home, work, school and outside in their cities has come to light in the mainstream.
The finalists of the third edition of the Womanity Award 2018, themed ‘Creating Safer Urban Environments for Women’, are making global cities, transport systems and public spaces less threatening for girls and women.
The Womanity Award unsurfaces innovative solutions around the world and focuses on the power of collaboration to address the root causes of Violence Against Women (VAW). At the heart of the Womanity Award is the aim to take these solutions to scale through a carefully supported process of adaptation by partner organisations in new settings.
With the support of The Womanity Foundation, organisations from different parts of the world expand their reach into new geographies, with the aim of preventing violence against millions more women and girls.
Womanity Award programme manager Laura Somoggi says: “Creating safer private and public environments means harnessing the power of women and men, businesses, public institutions, and civic society. They need to collaborate to design and develop – among other things – buildings which feel safe for women, streets which are well lit, safer public transport and solutions which involve women’s voices. Our finalists are very much at the leading edge of this work.”
Creating safer urban environments for women: the finalists
The Womanity Award 2018 finalists have been chosen from 70 nominations across 26 countries from five continents.
Three pairs of finalists were selected. Each includes an Innovation Partner (IP) and a Scale Up Partner (SP). Innovation partners run a unique programme which will be scaled up via adaptation and replication with the partner in new settings. The team will look at specific local issues in the new area including social norms and culture. The finalists are:
- Col.lectiu Punto 6, from Barcelona, Spain (IP) and Instituto Mujer y Sociedad (IMS) from Montevideo, Uruguay (SP).
- Plan India from New Delhi (IP) and Vishakha from Jaipur, Rajasthan (SP), both in India.
- Safetipin, from New Delhi, India (IP) and Soul City Institute for Social Justice from Johannesburg, South Africa (SP)
Creating safer urban environments for women: The Finalists’ Programmes
Liveable Environments: Applying safety audits to housing projects and the surroundings – Col.lectiu Punt 6 and Instituto Mujer y Sociedad
From Spain and also having worked in Colombia, finalist Col.lectiu Punt 6 are a collective of feminist urban planners, architects and sociologists.
Their Liveable Environments programme works with local women and governments to assess safety in the city. They look not only at public spaces, but also housing developments and the surroundings to see where improvements can be made.
With the results, Col.lectiu Punt 6 designs and maps plans for safer urban spaces and new social housing developments with features such as more visibility and better communal places for women inside and outside the home.
The collective plans to work with the Instituto Mujer y Sociedad (IMS) to replicate the programme in two neighbourhoods of Montevideo, Uruguay.
IMS has more than thirty years of experience in providing legal and psychological assistance to victims of gender violence, helping reduce violence against women and girls, and creating knowledge and education programmes on gender-based violence. They work very closely with local civil society organisations and the government on the defence of human rights.
Plan India Safer Cities for Girls strives to increase girls’ and women’s safety in India and access to public spaces, as well as amplify their voice on how they want their cities to be.
Plan India works with governments and gives training to boys, families and communities to promote a supportive social environment for girls. The programme also creates and promotes safe youth clubs and community safety walks. They have a particular interest in addressing and preventing violence in public spaces and on transport, particularly sexual violence.
After the pilot programme in Delhi, Plan India found that 15% more girls reported always feeling safe in public spaces and 48% more girls said they were starting to get involved in local issues.
Plan wants to extend the programme to at least 20 cities. As a finalist, they will work with women’s rights organisation Vishakha to expand the programme to Jaipur, the largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan.
Vishakha is a respected organisation which played a key role in a major petition in 1997 in India which led to the Supreme Court issuing guidelines for prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace that year. They have a very strong relationship with local communities in Jaipur.
Finalist Safetipin has produced four Apps, including My Safetipin App, which sees red, orange or green pins dropped on city maps indicating which areas are the safest for women. Women’s safety apps gather crowdsourced information of women’s feelings of safety and other criteria such as lighting, quality of walk/ cycle paths and gender balance in public spaces.
The Safetipin Apps are currently being used by over 85,000 people in 12 cities, mostly in India but also in others such as Bogota, Nairobi, Manila and Jakarta.
In Delhi, seven different government departments have used Safetipin’s data to make improvements, including to fix all dark areas. And in Bogota, the local authorities have used the app to audit and improve bike paths in the city.
Safetipin is partnering with the Soul City Institute for Social Justice for Young Women and Girls in South Africa. This scale up will allow the support to be geared to a country which has a femicide rate five times the global average (Statistics SA, 2016).
Soul City is recognised globally for its pioneering work on social change communication. It uses a combination of mass/social media, social mobilization and policy advocacy to bring about social change. It is also currently working on the Safe Taxi Campaign to reduce abuse and sexual violence on public minibus taxis, the most used means of transport in Johannesburg.
More freedom to live, work, learn and socialise: Why safer cities for women are so important
A recent World Bank Study (2018) shows that four in five countries have laws to protect women from sexual harassment outside the home, but these laws often do not cover harassment in the streets.
The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has set the elimination of “all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres” as one of its specific goals.
Negative impacts for women’s health and wellbeing
“The very unacceptable present reality for women all around the world is that they are restricted from living freely and from thriving in cities because of the violence and threat of violence they meet”, says Somoggi, from Womanity.” We are working with all finalists to provide funding, capacity building and publicity support because we want them to be able to further strengthen their power to create safer lives for women and girls.”
According to a statement from UN Women: “The inability to be safe in cities reduces women’s and girls’ freedom of movement. It reduces their ability to participate in school, work and public life. It limits their access to essential services and their enjoyment of cultural and recreational opportunities. It also negatively impacts their health and wellbeing.”
The Womanity Award will provide the selected pair of organisations with a package of support that includes technical assistance, mentoring, learning field visits, and impact measurement – all geared towards the adaptation and scale up of the selected programme over a three-year period. The chosen organisations will be announced in June 2018.
Ultimately, this Award urgently seeks to bring an end to a world where young girls are scared to walk to school and a woman can be raped in front of her 10-year-old child while taking a public taxi – a widely reported incident which happened just last year in South Africa. The Womanity Award 2018 looks for an end to this currently bleak reality that half the world’s citizens face. By seeking to further grow the impact of such ground-breaking programmes, we are several steps closer to a safer, more equal world.