Right to the City

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Illustrative photo: Safetipin.com

In India and globally, many women and girls experience multiple and different forms of violence and harassment in public spaces. To address this issue, UN Women launched a Safe City and Safe Public Spaces Programme in November 2009 in New Delhi. The programme focuses on influencing legislation and policies to prevent and respond to sexual violence against women and girls in public spaces and transforming attitudes and behaviors. Financed by the Norwegian Embassy, the programme is currently being implemented in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Last week a delegation from the Royal Norwegian Embassy, together with UN Women, visited the Badarpur locality in New Delhi to experience first hand their work on Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces. The work is implemented by UN Women’s partner Jagori, an Indian NGO and women’s collective and SafetiPin, a mobile and online platform used to perform safety audits. Jagori organized a meeting with the community women and girls. They gave a demonstration of a safety audit, a method to identify vulnerable spots in their localities used for advocating with local authorities to make public spaces safer for women.

SafetiPin is a mobile and online platform used to perform safety audits by collecting data about safety in cities. They map the nature of public spaces using 8 parameters – lighting, visibility, security, walk path, transport, openness, gender and crowd, which together contribute to the feeling of safety. Based on the rating of each of the parameters, a Safety Score is generated. The Safety Score is a reflection of the perception of safety at that particular location, and is the average of all safety audits done in that area. The factor that has the highest impact on safety perception is lighting followed by visibility and security.

In 2016 the Safe City and Safe Public Spaces Programme has trained 25 government functionaries from the Public Works Department, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation and Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation, to collect safety data in public spaces and identify elements that make certain public spaces unsafe for women and girls. Following these trainings, more than 2,000 women’s safety audits have been conducted in Delhi, including the 15 most frequented metro stations and 10 popular tourist locations. The Government of India has adopted the Women Safety Audits as a key strategy, as referenced in the Draft National Policy. Further the New Delhi Municipal Corporation and the Public Works Department has been using the data collected through these safety audits, and addressed the gaps in city infrastructure and services in several places.