The Womanity Award: Making Cities Safer for Women About the Author: Laura Somoggi works for The Womanity Foundation, leading the Womanity Award for Prevention of Violence Against Women. The facts on violence against women are sobering: 1 in 3 women will experience violence during their lifetime1. This includes both domestic violence and violence in public spaces. A recent World Bank Study2 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. When I joined the Womanity Foundation in 2017 to lead the Womanity Award a programme that supports organisations working to end violence against women - I already had a good understanding of what makes women feel safe or not in the city. As a woman born in São Paulo and living in London, I feel it every day. What I didn’t know was the amount and variety of amazing initiatives around the world working towards creating safer cities for women and girls. In my role, I’ve learnt about projects from 70 different organisations, from 26 countries in five continents - all of which were nominated for the Womanity Award 2018. 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.
1 World Health Organization 2 2018, Global and Regional Trends in Women’s Legal Protection Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Harassment
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. We support what we call an Innovation Partner (IP) and a Scale Up Partner (SP). Innovation partners run unique programmes that can be scaled up via adaptation and replication with the partner in a new setting. The partners will look at specific local issues in the new area including social norms and culture. This model helps to create a new structure addressing violence against women (VAW), builds transnational relationships and strengthens the capacity of both partnering organisations. Importantly, the model prevents reinventing the wheel. Instead, we focus on scaling up and adapting innovative programmes that are proven to be successful. The Womanity Award is given every two years and supports a pair of organisations to work together over a period of three years. For 2018, our goal was to find projects that harness the power of women and men, businesses, public institutions, and civic society to design and develop, among others: • Gender aware architecture, • Better collection and data analysis, • Bottom-up neighbourhood mobilization, • Gender transformative approaches, • Urban public and private spaces promoting dignity and trust, • Initiatives that promote Women’s voice and visibility in public and private spaces, to prevent violence against women in urban environments. Multitude of approaches During the selection process, I had the privilege to read about and see many different approaches to tackling violence against women in urban environments. These included: use of technology to collect data about safety in different parts of the city and to provide information so women can make decisions about their itineraries, use of data to advocate with local governments for actual changes in the city’s infra-structure, community outreach to raise awareness of women’s rights to the city and to create advocates,
feminist urban planning which contributes to the democratization of planning and women’s active participation in city making, focus on adolescent girls who experience the city in different ways, engagement of men and boys as they have to be involved in the solution by, for instance, challenging harmful gender norms, use of street art to raise awareness of girls trafficking, self-defence training in schools so girls know what to do and boys know how to help as by-standers, work in airports and cities in country borders to prevent trafficking by training staff with humanised care to help identify potential victims of trafficking, refuges and crisis centres for women in situation of risk. With candidates from Papua New Guinea to Brazil, from India to Jordan, from Spain to South Africa, from Egypt to Uruguay – there is no doubt: women in cities face serious issues all around the world. The reality for many women is that they are restricted from living freely and from thriving because of the violence and threat of violence they meet. Sexual harassment and other forms of violence in public spaces are present everywhere. According to a statement from UN Women3: “When women and girls are not safe walking on city streets, selling their goods or shopping in marketplaces, commuting on public transport or simply using community toilets, it has a massive impact on their lives. Both the threat and the experience of violence affect their access to social activities, education, employment and leadership opportunities.” During the selection process I learned about the importance of not only focusing on crime, including violence against women, but also on the perception of safety. Anne Michaud4, expert and consultant in women’s safety and gender equality, gives a very clear example of the importance to address safety perceptions: if there is a sexual assault in a street where all the people who live are women, the “crime” has happened against one woman, but once all the population of this street learns about it, 100% of women increase their
3 2017, UN Women, Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces – Global Results Report 4 Anne Michaud brought an important contribution to the development of methodologies and partnership strategies in order to achieve safer cities for women, and shared the Montreal partners experience in numerous publications, conferences and training sessions worldwide. She initiated the 1 s International Seminar on Women’s Safety « Making the Links» in May 2002 in Montreal and is a co-founder of Women in Cities International.
perception of fear. This is why is so important to focus on perceptions, beyond crime, to have a proper gender perspective of what makes a city safe. The problem is global, but the solution can and should be adapted to the local context. This is exactly what the Womanity Award model is based on: respectful adaptation to new context. We support partnerships where there is no top-down or one size fits all approach between the Innovation Partner and the Scale Up partner. The partners work together to understand to what extent both the content and the methodology of the programme need to be adapted to resonate better with the community it will serve. The Awardees: Safetipin and Soul City Institute The thorough selection process saw 70 nominations shortlisted down to 18 pairs of eligible organisations. An Advisory Board and Selection Panel made up of experts reduced this again, resulting in 3 finalists and 1 winner. The final pair of organisations awarded were Safetipin, from India, and Soul City Institute for Social Justice, from South Africa. Safetipin is a social enterprise that has produced Apps, including My Safetipin App, which marks red, orange or green pins dropped on city maps indicating which areas are the safest for women. The Apps gather crowdsourced information of womenâ€™s feelings of safety and other criteria such as lighting, security, quality of walk path, availability of public transport, gender usage, among others. Safety information is fed into the app from womenâ€™s own experiences, focus groups with young women, volunteer research and live video footage filmed by Uber taxis moving around cities. 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. Last month, the government of Delhi commissioned Safetipin to do a citywide safety audit to make public spaces safer for women and for everyone. In Bogota, the local authorities have used the app to audit and improve bike paths in the city. Now, with the support of Womanity, they will be adapting the programme to South Africa, a country where the femicide rate is five times the global average (Statistics SA, 2016).
Soul City is recognised globally for its pioneering work using 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 aimed to reduce abuse and sexual violence on public minibus taxis, the most used means of transport in the country. One of the partners’ first tasks will be 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. Please check the partnership’s 2-minute Award video here.
The runners up Col.lectiu Punt 6 and Instituto Mujer y Sociedad One pair of runners-up were Col.lectiu Punt 6 (Spain) and Instituto Mujer y Sociedad (Uruguay). Their plan was to replicate in Montevideo a project called Liveable Environments: Applying safety audits to housing projects and the surroundings 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 of the audit, 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. Please check the partnership’s 2-minute Award video here. Plan India and Vishakha The other pair of finalists are Plan India and Vishakha and their plan was to adapt Safer Cities for Girls from Delhi to Jaipur, in India. The aim of the programme is 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.
They would work 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. Please check the partnershipâ€™s 2-minute Award video here. Womanity Support Womanity Award recipients 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 replication of the programme, over a 3-year period. In addition, the Womanity Foundation will include Safetipin and Soul City in its international network, providing profile raising and further fundraising opportunities.
More 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 foundationâ€™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).