Safer cities for women

Safer cities for women

The perception of security in cities

In 1996, some mayors in Africa asked UN-Habitat to accompany the processes that were being carried out to mitigate violence and insecurity, which is how the Safer Cities program came into being, in which 77 cities are currently participating.

Over the years, the program consolidated better strategies to define the causes that produce violence and found that it is important to make appropriate interventions to the real needs of each community. It is also essential to have an administrative management willing to listen and implement the proposed solutions.

Public space, a synonym of insecurity for women

Historically, men have been in charge of city planning. Priorities in the occupation of space have been established according to the male vision, which in most cases fails to consider the needs of the female population.

The levels of insecurity experienced by women in public spaces are concerning. A study conducted by the Development Bank of Latin America found that women perceive public transportation as a dangerous space, from the moment they walk to the end of their journey.

Buenos Aires, Quito, and Santiago de Chile were the cities that participated, and it was shown that in the absence of light, insecurity increases for all pedestrians, but women have the aggravating factor of feeling exposed to harassment or rape.

The study found that one of the strategies used by women to prevent insecurity is to change routes, but this affects travel time and, in some countries, such as Mexico, there has been a decrease from 64% to 52% of women users of public transportation in the last 10 years.

Project: “Safe roads for women in Iztapalapa”.

Fear of public spaces is a constant that is lived from the female reality, and on this scenario, government entities must implement action plans to reduce insecurity. Clara Marina Brugada Molina, Mayor of Iztapalapa Mexico, created a project to reduce the perception of risk in the busiest areas of the city and included panic buttons throughout the route to alert authorities of crimes.

The intervention, called Caminos Seguros para las Mujeres (Safe Roads for Women), involved community participation to understand the reasons that accentuated insecurity and which were the most visible sources of violence. In addition to illuminating the roads, the construction sought to generate a pleasant environment for the inhabitants of the sector, so they decided to paint murals along the route and widened the sidewalks. In an interview with El País, Brugada said, “If a girl can walk down the street at night, free and safe, then anyone can do it.”

The figures show that crimes in the area decreased from 1,084 to 587 per month, but paradoxically, reports of rape and harassment increased. According to the prosecutor’s office, this is due to the fact that women are now less afraid to report because they feel supported by the entities that monitor the project.

This initiative puts into practice the strategies proposed by the Safe Cities for Women and Girls program while recognizing the administrative management of Mayor Brugada, demonstrating that the participation of women in public office promotes solutions to the needs of the general population, while addressing the inequality experienced by women in the use of public space.

You can be part of the change, join this movement on behalf of yourself or hundreds of victims who have not been able to find their voice to speak out against this scourge.

Find the multiple options we have to get involved with the movement and make your voice heard.