A ground-breaking women’s safety app partnership has won the global Womanity Award 2018 at Tech4Dev UNESCO Conference, Lausanne

  • SafetiPin and Soul City Institute, two women’s rights organisations who will together launch a suite of safety apps for women in South African cities has won the Womanity Award 2018.
  • The SafetiPin apps use live video footage filmed by Uber taxis and crowdsourced data from women and volunteers to show safest areas of cities for women.
  • The Apps are currently being used by over 100,000 people, mostly in India (yesterday announced as the most dangerous country in the world for women by the Thomson Reuters Foundation) with widespread success. In Delhi, seven different government departments have used the apps’ data to make urban areas safer for women.

Lebogang Ramafoko, CEO Soul City (left) and Kalpana Viswanath, CEO Safetipin (right)

The prize

The Womanity Foundation awards the partnership – SafetipPin based in India and the Soul City Institute of Social Justice, based in South Africa –  up to 300,000 Swiss francs worth of technical support to replicate and adapt the Safer Cities apps programme in major metropolitan cities across South Africa over the next three years. The team will work with government, citizens, community organisations and public transport operators to prevent violence against women.

How do the SafetiPin apps work?

  • The flagship app – My SafetiPin – places red, orange and green pins on virtual city maps indicating which areas are the safest/ least dangerous for women.
  • Factors assessed include lighting, quality of walk/ cycle paths, gender balance in the streets and general feeling of safety on streets and on public transport.
  • Safety information is fed into the app from women’s own experiences, focus groups with young women, volunteer research and live video footage filmed by Uber taxis moving around cities.

Commenting on the announcement, Rafia Qureshi, Executive Director of The Womanity Foundation, said:

“The title of this year’s Womanity Award: ‘Creating Safer Urban Environments for Women’, is very timely. In the last year, a growing number of women have taken to social media to reveal the true extent of the abuse and threats they face daily in their cities.

“With more people living in cities than ever before and the trend set to continue, this situation is highly concerning. Presently, women and girls find themselves avoiding multiple areas around their hometowns, or not wanting to go out after dusk. It means they cannot participate fully in life, work, education or social time and are severely restricted from living a fulfilling life. This is the reason for our theme this year.”

The problem of violence against women in South Africa

South Africa has a femicide rate five times the global average (Statistics SA, 2016). One of the duo’s first tasks will be trying to make public minivan taxis safer for women in South Africa. They are widely used by women because alternatives are limited, but are known for being highly unsafe. Last year, concern and terror among users of the vans escalated to a disturbing new level when a woman passenger was abducted in Johannesburg and raped in a taxi in front of her 10-year-old son.

The future of women’s safety in the wake of #MeToo

Kalpana Viswanath, co-founder and CEO of SafetipPin comments: “Initiatives like the #MeToo campaign provide public and online space to get more people to engage with the issue. This is the time to take this discussion from personal stories, to making stakeholders accountable and asking for change. It’s about taking the #MeToo story and saying “now what? how do we ensure this issue around women’s safety changes?” That’s where SafetipPin comes in. We hope to have the same success in South Africa as we have in Delhi, and across India, as well as in cities in Africa and South America.”

Lebogang Ramafoko, CEO at the Soul City Institute, comments: “This work arises out of our commitment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, especially to achieve full gender equality by 2030. We are excited to win the award because it allows us to partner with a successful and innovative Southern organisation that will enable us to improve safety for women. With the partnership we will be able to work with young women in the RISE Clubs to map their communities and use data as an advocacy tool to improve safety for women. We are also excited that we will be able to work with local government to use data to have more gendered responses to urban safety.”

 

Notes to editors

About the Womanity Award 2018:

The 2018 Theme: Creating Safer Urban Environments for Women is about building safer private and public environments, as well as harnessing the power of women and men, businesses, public institutions, and civic society to design and develop better urban spaces for women.

With the Award, the Womanity Foundation brings together complementary organisations working to reduce and prevent violence against women. Each finalist team comprises of an innovation partner, in this case SafetiPin, and a scale-up partner, i.e., Soul City. Together they will adapt and expand a successful women’s safety programme, in this instance the SafetiPin apps, to new cities and territories, respecting women’s voices, local context and social norms.

About the award package:

The winning pair of partners will receive a package of up to Swiss CHF 300,000 worth of professional services, staff time, learning field visits, impact measurement, and any relevant expertise or resources necessary for the scaling up of the program, over a 3-year period.

Entry and selection:
Finalists were chosen from 70 nominations received from 26 countries via a thorough evaluation process with support of an expert Advisory Board. Three pairs of finalist were chosen:

  • SafetiPin, India and Soul City, South Africa (SafetiPin apps in South Africa)
  • Point 6 Collective, Spain and the Institute Mujer y Sociedad, Uruguay (Liveable Environments programme in Uruguay)
  • Plan India, India and Vishakha, India (Safer Cities for Girls)

About the winners

SafetiPin

Founded by a wife and husband partnership in Delhi, the apps place SafetiPins on maps to show which areas are safe for women. The name was inspired by the fact that, in India, traditionally women used the safety pin as a defense against street harassment. SafetiPin has expanded from a single app into a technology platform. It currently has two active apps:

1 My SafetiPin – using red, orange and green pins to show the safety of different areas

2 SafetiPin Nite – an app to collect data using moving vehicles to capture photographs at night

Soul City Institute

The Soul City Institute has traditionally used a combination of mass/social media, social mobilisation and policy advocacy to bring about social change and is currently running a safer taxis campaign. Its mission is to create a just society in which young women and girls are safe, and have the opportunities to enable them to reach their full potential.

Check out the partnership’s 2 minute award video here

About The Womanity Foundation

The Womanity Foundation believes in a world where all women and men enjoy equal and full social, economic, and political rights. Guided by this vision, Womanity aims to empower women and girls in emerging markets and accelerate progress within their communities.

Womanity, and its network of partners, ignite positive change through innovation, collaboration, and scaling. Womanity provides education and vocational training, helps scale women-focussed social enterprises and replicates initiatives proven to prevent violence against women. The foundation’s work also challenges harmful gender norms through media.

Womanity is an independent private foundation established in 2005 and registered in Switzerland, Afghanistan, the UK and the USA (under the auspices of the King Baudouin Foundation USA).