Kathryn Travers is the Executive Director at Women in Cities International. She has a background in criminology and sociology and did her master’s coursework in Costa Rica in International Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. Post this, she moved to New York to complete an internship with the UN in the Mediation Support Unit. While she was living in New York, Women in Cities International (WICI) reached out to her to work on a project that would include working with different groups of women who experience particular exclusion, for example, elderly women, urban aboriginal women, etc. “That project set the tone for me, about what kind of work I’d want to do and what my area of interest was”, she said.   Q. Can you tell me more about WICI and how your experience working with WICI has been? Let me first tell you about how WICI started. WICI is the outcome of the first International Conference on Women’s Safety which took place in Montreal, in 2002. At that time, the City of Montreal had a program called Femmes et Ville, “Women and the City” that worked on issues of gender inclusion at the city level. By the virtue of organizing this conference and discussing work in urban public spaces, the conference organizers unknowingly created an international network. Once this happened, they decided to formalize it so as to be able to maintain the network they had created and to strive to share knowledge and tools with a wider audience. So, at its origin, WICI was basically a network organization that aimed to make information available to all, for learning, advocacy, local level work, education and awareness purposes. To this day, WICI’s funding is project-based, and we have no core funding, which is an ongoing challenge for the organization. Our first few projects were mainly research based. For example, we got a grant to support a women safety award in 2004, which put a spotlight on good practices around the world. We also facilitated some online dialogues that we wrote up into short reports. Post this, we got into programming and technical assistance more. We were looking at how we were approaching women’s safety and inclusion in the city, and more importantly, how to be intersectional about it. We believe that women around the world have different experiences from one another because of their multiple identity markers so we decided to look at other issues that affect women as well, and not just safety. We evaluated the social and built environments and then started thinking about mobility, transportation and women’s movement around a city, as well and opportunities for women to participate in shaping the city. Our end goal is to make places and cities more sustainable even after we leave and one of the best ways to do this is through partnerships. We wanted to go beyond just bringing the government to the table and give importance to the fact that though the grass-root organizations need the government, the government needs them too, in order to understand the base of the problem. Due to this, we started being more deliberate with our training and made sure that both parties received the training or support they needed to be at equal levels before meeting each other. This way, all communication between the organizations and governments was fruitful right from the start.   Q. Can you tell me about your work in Canada on Safe Cities? And your adaptations of the safety audit and its use? The first project I worked on with WICI was a pan-Canadian project where we worked with four different cities with four different groups of women. In Montreal, we worked with differently-abled women. In the other three cities, we worked with elderly women (Gatineau), immigrant women (Peel region near Toronto) and urban aboriginal women (Regina), respectively. They all face different types of safety issues and it was so interesting because we worked with these groups individually first and then got them all together. When they all met, they loved it and found that it was so enriching and important to have peer learnings. More importantly, they expanded their own reflections about the challenges women face in the city to think about the needs of the women they met. So, in all four cities, tools like the women’s safety audit were adapted to include things like universal accessibility or longer street crossing times to make it easier for older women, among other things. After this, peer learning and exchange became a core principle of our work. I think a common mistake we make when talking about people living with disabilities is that we automatically assume a very prominent physical disability, most often requiring the use of a wheelchair, and that is not always the case. I had one really amazing experience with women without sight which I talk about in workshops and conferences till date. Doing an audit is a largely sight-based process where you note down what you see around you but working with these women we learned to expand the audit process to encompass all 5 senses. The women with limited or no visual ability would utilize their sense of smell and they would tell us things before we could see them. For example, once when we were walking, one of the women stopped us and told us to be careful as there might be broken glass around the corner because she could smell beer. It was so incredible to see the power of the human body to adapt to navigate the urban space using only its strongest senses. More recently, we did a project in Guyana, South America, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) where they were investing in infrastructure as part of the transformation of an informal area in a formal neighbourhood. So, we worked with the community women and did safety audits to prioritize what needed to be done first. For example, to add drainage in front of a primary school where the road flooded when it rained, or to add street lighting to the routes women took to go to the market etc., it was based on making spaces more inclusive, and on prioritizing urban upgrading in a way that not only responded to local priorities but that was also gender responsive. Lately, we are working more to try to find opportunities for influence where a budget is already approved so that we can make a difference faster. One thing we believe in is forming strong partnerships very early on in the project and not doing so only after the site diagnosis. If everyone a part of the project works together from the start, then the entire course of the project goes more smoothly.   Q. What do you think has been your biggest challenge and achievement while working with women or girls to build safe cities?   One of the biggest challenges is that whenever we work with the local people, we need to address their issues and show some results faster than sometimes possible. They are asked to give their time and participate in surveys and they do it on the promise of change. So, we have council meetings where issues are negotiated between different stakeholders who are ultimately responsible for implementing change and the local people who have expectations to see results quickly and we have to manage it. One thing we do is to identify the quick wins first so that people feel like they’ve been heard. Something like installing street lights in different areas is a time-consuming process and this is always difficult to explain to the local people who want to see immediate change. Another challenge for me, personally, is that we’re funded per project and sometimes it feels that as soon as we gain a good momentum, the funding finishes and this limits the potential impact of our work. This is the reason I believe partnerships can make a huge difference. If we’re not the only ones working on a project, then work can continue even after our time is up. When it comes to achievements, I think the small achievements along the way are always extremely motivating to continue with the project. The example of working with differently-abled women and their abilities to innovate and adapt the audits to still use the tool but to do so relying on their other senses is a story I share at all safety audit events. It has a big multiplier factor, because it inspires and motivates people. I think if we’re sitting somewhere and have the opportunity to make a difference, then it’s our responsibility and privilege to speak for women who can’t do it for themselves or who don’t yet have a seat around the table.   Q. How do you think the issue of women’s safety has evolved over the last decade? There have been many waves in the movement for women’s rights and safety. I think the #MeToo movement shed light on the fact that every woman, irrespective of fame, class or religion, has faced harassment in some form or another and the fact that Hollywood actors came out and openly spoke about it gave a lot of women the confidence to share their experiences as well. #MeToo showed us that harassment is a global problem and has created a space for conversations that were previously not considered as proper things to speak about. Another thing is that, in the past we have spoken about domestic abuse policy and how data was always required to make a case. Now, we are talking about harassment and saying that a woman’s experience and story holds importance too. #MeToo is a safe space for discussion but now we need to have a safe space for more than discussion, we need to focus on prevention and for taking action as well. This was a stepping stone in what I hope is a much bigger movement to not only acknowledge women’s experiences of harassment or violence, but of transforming social norms and working to end harassment and violence against all women and girls.  

Wed, 22 May, 2019
By Shreya Basu

I got the chance to talk to Meera, from Madanpur Khadar, who featured in the rap song “Khadar Ki Ladkiyan”, which is a song that the girls of that community wrote and sung explaining their troubles and asserting their right to the city. This song was produced as a part of the Aana Jaana (coming and going) project. Meera is now working with Jagori and asserting her right to the city every day!   Keep scrolling to know more about Meera, the obstacles she has faced and how she overcame them.   Q. Tell me about where you live and your experience living there.    I moved to Madanpur Khadar in 2000 because we got relocated by the government. When I first moved there, it was a scary place- there were no amenities and no viable transport option (there was a mini bus but it was always crowded and a very unstable mode of transportation so I didn’t use it much), so it restricted a lot of girls, including me. I had to stop my education in 9th grade. I eventually got back to studying many years later, when the infrastructure was improved. It is a much better place to live now but there is still a lot of scope for improvement.     Q. How did you become a part of the Aana Jaana project and how was your experience?   We have all been working with Jagori since 2009. That time we used to attend meetings and go for some events. It was in Jagori only that we were introduced to the Aana Jaana project that was organized by King’s College, London. We were asked if we wanted to be a part of the project, share our experiences of living in Khadar and traveling around the city, and we all agreed. We had to do safety audits of our colony and identify which areas where safe and which dangerous. We did these audits using Safetipin. The project was one year long and so we had time to do a lot of things. We made a Wikipedia page where we wrote about Khadar and our troubles in the community, which was a great learning experience because we had no idea how to do it before this project. We also made a rap song to show our struggles because we felt that music could connect with everyone. We never expected it to be so appreciated and to be in the news and even to be interviewed!   Q. How did your family and community react to the video? Did you feel any change after the video released?    I didn’t face too much problem from my family. There was the issue that we had to manage this project alongside work, so we had to meet up late in the evenings and every Sunday. Life had become very busy at that time but it was our wish to take it up so even though it was tough, we were doing it happily. When our song had initially come out, we got a lot of positive feedback and that was really nice. My friends also told me they really liked the song and I think it made them feel that they could also openly say what they felt. I felt very proud to be able to talk about my community on such a public platform.   In the beginning in Khadar, it was so unsafe that I myself didn't want to go to the market alone. Now, however, I don't fear going anywhere by myself and that’s a change for my community to see. They still think that girls should always wear a scarf, never go out, not speak too much and definitely not talk to boys. They used to comment before but now they just give looks and I have gotten used to it so it doesn’t bother me.   Q. Do you have brothers and sisters? How do you think treatment for your brother is different from yours?   I have one sister and 4 brothers. The problem of gender was there in the beginning but now it’s not as much. This is mostly because of Jagori. There has been a change from within me and it has spread to my family and community. My neighbours sometimes still ask about where we are and why we go out so late but they have reduced asking a lot because they are also starting to get used to it.   Q. How was the experience of shooting a video?   It was a little strange, at first because we had never worked in front of a camera before. Nandan bhaiya, who was our videographer would keep pointing out our mistakes. He would keep asking us to emote more and be expressive. On top of this we had to shoot in public so people would always stare. During the making of the video, there was a little agitation but once the video was made we were all very happy and could only remember all the good times we had while shooting.        

Wed, 15 May, 2019
By Shreya Basu

We always talk about our work and projects, but now we want you to know a little bit about the incredible people we meet along the way.  Laura Somoggi, from the Womanity Foundation, was our mentor during our time as finalists for the Womanity Award for Prevention of Violence Against Women (VAW). It was an extensive process but definitely worth it. Keep reading to know more about Laura, her journey and thoughts!   Q. Could you tell me a little about yourself?   I am a Brazilian and have been living in London for 13 years now. I was a journalist for 10 years before I moved. I wanted to work with social impact issues, so moving countries was a step to change careers. I did a Master’s at the London School of Economics and then started work with Unilever. I worked there for 8 years and was responsible for managing cross-sector partnerships with global NGOs and UN agencies, focusing on international development work. I also led the women’s empowerment agenda for a year. After this, I moved from the private sector to the non-for-profit, joining the Womanity Foundation in June 2017, to lead on our programmes focused on tackling violence against women. Womanity helps empower women and girls in emerging markets to shape their future and accelerate progress within their communities. We design and implement our own programs to achieve meaningful impact in two areas: Disruptive Media Solutions Institutional Development. I also sit on the board of trustees of the Latin American Women’s Rights Service, (LAWRS)  an NGO based in London that work on advocacy and also services for Latin American women living in the UK, including support on social benefit issues, migration issues, violence against women, employability, among others.   Q. Tell us about the work Womanity does. How do you find and select organizations for the award? What are the social criteria you look at?   The Womanity Award was first launched in 2014 with the goal of finding innovative programmes tackling violence against women to be adapted into new geographies as a way of scaling them up. We support a pair of organisations for three years to work together in carefully adapting the programme respecting the local context and social norms. It is a very refreshing approach when compared to some more top-down replication models where programmes are copied and pasted across different countries. We provide funding, capacity building and also leverage both communications and networking opportunities for our partners. We are now in the third edition and in each iteration, we focus on a specific theme related to VAW. In 2014, we focused on Engaging Men and Boys for Violence Against Women. In 2016, the theme was how to tackle Online Violence Against Women. In 2018, the theme was Creating Safe Urban Environments for Women - and this is the year that Safetipin and Soul City were selected for the Award.   Our selection process is very thorough and extensive. It takes around a year from the time we start selecting organisations to when we give the Award. We have four rounds of shortlisting and there is an advisory board of experts who help in choosing the finalists. The three pairs of finalists then go through a 3-months funded mentoring process to work on the final proposal, which includes a field visit to the country where the programmes will be adapted. Finally, we also do financial, legal and safe guarding policies due diligence processes. After going through such a comprehensive process, we are always confident about who we are giving the award to. Ultimately, our goal at Womanity is to strengthen the global network of organizations working to tackle violence against women in different countries. We want to catalyze collaborations and create opportunities for co-learning and knowledge sharing. The power of partnerships cannot be underestimated.   Q. How do you think the issue of women’s safety has evolved over the last decade?   I think there is a lot more awareness about the fact that women don't feel and are not safe both in public and private spaces. This happens in every country, affecting women from different backgrounds, social classes etc. It happens to everyone, everywhere. I’m also glad that there is an increase of awareness about the fact that violence against women is totally related to the power dynamics in our patriarchal society. Movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp made this very visible. These movement also challenged perceptions as well. I remember that years ago in Brazil, catcalling wasn’t even considered harassment by many women – and this is changing. Also, with more women speaking up about their experiences, it encourages others to do the same. We also have to focus on how the extent of safety perception affects a women development opportunities. If we feel afraid of walking in certain streets, taking public transport at certain times this may limit our choices of places to work or schools to study. So besides being a moral issue, fighting violence against women impact the economy as well.   Q. What is a safe public space according to you?   Well, I think in a very general sense, it's a place where we feel free. A place where there are no limitations, where I can walk without worry and not have to constantly check over my shoulder. Also, as I learned from Safetipin already, there are several dimensions that influence how women feel in the public space: lighting at night, the presence of other people in the street (especially women),  and how open are the spaces and if you can see other people and can be seen. On that respect, I saw something really similar in my hometown São Paulo (Brazil) and Johannesburg (South Africa). In rich neighborhoods the houses have very tall walls and fences, so when you walk in the street, you feel very isolated and vulnerable – if something happens to you, nobody can see you and you can’t see anyone. What makes private spaces feel safer can have the opposite effect in the public space.   Q. Do you feel there’s a difference in the public spaces in all the cities you’ve lived?   I have lived most of my life in São Paulo, Brazil, which is a big city and not safe. When I moved to London, which is also a big city, I felt much safer. I can walk alone at night which is something I couldn't do in Sao Paulo except maybe in some specific areas. I know that there is harassment and violence in London as well, but the probability of something happening in London is much smaller than in São Paulo. As a woman, I’m never completely relaxed when outside, I need to be aware of all movements around me, especially at night.   Q. What do you think can be done to improve women’s rights and safety in the future? I believe that we need to have more women working on urban planning, so women’s needs are considered when thinking about the use of the urban space. Women and men use the city in very different ways. I’m reading a brilliant book called Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez, and she gives numerous examples showing these differences. She gives evidence, for instance, that transport as a profession is a ‘highly male-dominated” and they have bias from their personal experience when planning. Also, very few governments disaggregate data by sex so all the information about how people move in the city is seen as one when the reality is very different. Women do 75% of the worlds unpaid care work and this affect their travel needs: they drop children off at school before going to work, they do groceries on the way home, while men, in general, just go to work and come back.   We need more women making decisions and creating space for more women to make decisions. But it’s important to say that it’s not enough to just have them at positions of power but also having women who are willing to do things differently. It’s not just a numbers change, what we need is a system change! We do not need more women thinking like men, we need more women and men to be able to think outside the norm. Through the years, we have seen the world through male lens and always considered anything different as an exception. Challenging the status quo is very difficult, but I think that exception needs to be made a mainstream way of thinking.                  

Wed, 08 May, 2019
By Shreya Basu

Diya Nag is a Senior Program Officer with The Asia Foundation’s country office in New Delhi. She is a development professional and lawyer. She has studied Human Rights and Sociology, has a Juris Doctor with a specialization in Global Law and Practice and is a member of the New York bar, First Appellate Division. She has accomplished so much with her work and I’m thrilled that we got the opportunity to speak with her. Keep reading to know more about her views on gender stereotypes and the progress for women in the last year! Q. What does #BalanceForBetter mean to you? For me, #BalanceforBetter means there needs to be more equality, not just between the various genders, but between the mainstream and the marginalized. #BalanceforBetter means everyone gets an equal chance to work, live, play, learn, thrive, and enjoy life. Q. Do you see a gender disparity within your work circle or friends' groups? If yes, how do you tackle it? If no, what is your view on it?  I am 36, which means many of my friends are new parents. If one spouse has to take a backseat from their career and focus more on childcare, it is usually the mother. I’ve tried to change this by calling attention to this gendered decision, privately. Sometimes it works, sometimes people just shrug and move on. Q. How do you think women participation in public spaces has improved in the last few years?  It has increased, but that is inevitable. The women’s movement has never regressed, only progressed. We need to make sure more women are participating in the workforce, though. Women’s unpaid work is still unaccounted for. Q. What progress have you seen for women in the last year?  The #MeToo movement brought attention to the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace like never before. Women have been experiencing this for decades but in 2018 we all stood up together, and said enough is enough! Q. If you could give out a message to all the young women out there just entering the work field, what would it be?  Stand up for yourself as a woman in these three ways:  1) Argue for raises and promotions when you feel you deserve them;  2) Demand flexibility from your employer to accommodate for child and elder care responsibilities and/or pregnancy; and  3) Fearlessly call out sexism / gender bias when you see or experience it

Wed, 06 Mar, 2019
By Shreya Basu

Maliha Abidi is a 23-year-old artist and writer. She is from Karachi, currently studying Neuroscience at the University of Sussex while also continuing her passion for art and spirit for women empowerment through various projects, one of them being her upcoming book “Pakistan for Women”.  Q2. What does #BalanceForBetter mean to you? I think as a woman, I have a ton of responsibilities- I am a daughter, a wife and an artist. It’s really important for me to have good relationships with both my father and husband as I value them the most but my priority is my mental space. I want to support my family and have them do the same but I can’t do that if I’m not thinking clearly. It’s important to have a healthy mind, healthy lifestyle and healthy communication to handle everything right. Q3. Do you see a gender disparity within your work circle or friends' groups? If yes, how do you tackle it? If no, what is your view on it? I myself, have not seen it a lot, but that does not mean it doesn’t exist. It is very prevalent in my country, I know that. I’ve been fortunate in life and I come from a privileged household but that doesn’t mean that I deny or don’t believe the stories of others. I think that’s a fundamental problem with the movements like #MeToo that have come up in the last year- just because people don’t see it, they think it’s a lie. I think we need to create a community and society where people feel comfortable and safe enough to share their lives.  Q4. Do you use public transport frequently? How do you think women participation in public spaces has improved in the last few years?  I have lived in San Francisco, UK and Pakistan and have used some public transport in all these places. In UK, especially to travel for university, I face problems with delayed trains but no harassment as such. In Pakistan, I have taken rickshaws for short distances and personally, have not faced any problem. It might have to do with the fact that I don’t travel alone much, I always have my cousins or friends with me. There are a few stares here and there but luckily I have never faced any aggression or problems. I think this also stems from my statement previously about how I do come from a privileged household. Q5. As a person in your line of work, do you feel that there are stereotypes and types of things that you're expected to do? How do you feel about the same? How do you overcome it? I definitely feel that there are stereotypes and expectations and they’re different for me as an artist and me as a woman. As an artist, I feel a lot of people think that it’s easy and a quick process to create art which is not true. It takes time and effort especially because I do all my work with hand and don’t use any software. I don’t do much commercial work, instead I work on projects and platforms. I have worked with UN Women, which was a great opportunity. As a woman, I feel like the fact that I got married young draws a lot of negative attention to me. My marriage was my choice and I’m happy but a lot of people pity me for it and question me for it which I don’t appreciate. I also feel like my hijab adds to it. People automatically think that I’m oppressed because I’m from Pakistan. I think I derived some inspiration for my book from here. I want to show that not all South Asian women have the same problems and struggles. I’ve written about women who are trying to come up with solutions to their individual problems and in turn are helping many others.  Q6. Anything else you would like to add about the last year and the progress for women? Have you seen more women on the forefront or has it remained the same? The last year for me has been a lot about my book. I’ve been fortunate enough to speak with many of the women featured in the book, one of the big names being Malala. I think it’s important to understand that no matter what platform you have, be it Facebook or Instagram, try to be the voice for those who don’t have one. I’m proud to say that my book is the first of its kind in Pakistan because there are so many inspiring women who don’t always get the apt recognition for their work. I’m happy to say that I have played a small part in doing that!

Mon, 04 Mar, 2019
By Shreya Basu

Pranita is a 26-year-old independent artist based out of Mumbai. She is an illustrator and type designer. She’s done some amazing work, my personal favorite being the #ShutUpAndStopStereotyping calendar which I keep on my desk. Check out her work/products at We asked her a bunch of questions and here are her responses for you to see! Q. What does #BalanceForBetter mean to you?  Balance is always tricky, for anything to balance - there needs to be a sense of equality. Be it balancing your work & social life, or balancing gender norms. #BalanceForBetter to me would be practicing the idea of equality in every aspect of life. Q. Do you see a gender disparity within your work circle or friends' groups? If yes, how do you tackle it? If no, what is your view on it? Fortunately, I haven't particularly come across gender disparity. Although, I am very aware of the amount of disparity in society, especially in work spaces & salary structures. Although, we're living in a time where feminists are rising, equality is being taught amongst children & hopefully, there should be a fairer work environment for the coming generations. Q. Do you use public transport frequently? How do you think women participation in public spaces has improved in the last few years?  There is an entire local Mumbai train dedicated only towards women travellers around the peak evening hours. This definitely shows encouragement towards working women. A decade ago, it was unsafe for a woman to climb into the men's compartment. That isn't the case today, times are definitely changing! Q. As an artist, do you feel that there are stereotypes and lines of artwork that you're expected to do? How do you feel about the same? How do you overcome it? YES! I have worked with a few clients who ask for the illustration to be "lesser plump" "fairer skin" "remove the curls, make her hair straight" - I have always tried to reason with these clients. My response to such changes is always along the lines of - "If you're brand is more inclusive; it will reach out to a larger audience" - This almost always helps.  At first, such situations would often make me a bit angry. Although now I realise that a little bit of educating these people is all it takes to change their mind-set. A lot of people are conditioned to be a certain way & don't realise it when they're stereotyping. I have an entire calendar dedicated to gender stereotyping!  Q. Anything else you would like to add about the last year and the progress for women? Have you seen more women on the forefront or has it remained the same? There has been a rise in feminists (both male & female) globally. There have been movements (like #MeToo) that are helping give a voice to men & women. Locally, there are artists (illustrators, musicians, poets, etc.) who have been communicating via their art about feminism and equality. I believe when the youth starts talking about gender equality, their voices will be heard sooner or later. Education & knowledge is the key to progress. There has been a massive change in how women are perceived in the last few years, and I feel truly lucky to be alive in a time of change!

Fri, 01 Mar, 2019
By Shreya Basu

Kuala Lumpur is a Malay phrase for “muddy confluence” which is hardly a glowing description. Actually, there was little to be excited about in the early years at the meeting of two murky rivers when a handful of mining community settled there. Yet, despite its unpromising origin, Kuala Lumpur has grown up full of confidence and has asserted its presence at the global stage hosting the Malaysian Grand Prix, Commonwealth Games and recently the World Urban Forum (7-13 Feb), a premier international UN-Habitat conference on pressing urban issues of today, namely, rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies. At the heart of KL’s central business district and within the precinct of the Petronas Towers, KL’s instant icon (two slender tapering steeples linked by a delicate skyway half way up), lay the arena for the Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum with a theme “Cities 2030, Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda”. It was the first major conference following the 2016 adoption of the New Urban Agenda at Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador. The Forum’s focus was on the New Urban Agenda as a tool and accelerator for achieving Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. 22000 participants from 165 countries, among them more than 100 Ministers and Deputy Ministers, debated concrete implementation steps and how to work together building the Cities 2030, Cities for All. The NUA aligns with SDG 11 on making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Gender Equality (SDG 5) is among its various other aims. Safetipin’s participation as an organisation which works towards making cities safe and inclusive was primarily to engage in this global open discussion, to raise awareness, share lessons learnt, exchange ideas, develop best practices and to contribute to the collective knowledge of sustainable urban development. Safetipin was invited to various events to share its experience and lessons. During the forum, it was very reassuring to learn about Safetipin’s presence at the global scene as an innovative technological solution to address urban safety. Safetipin an effective tool to gather geo tagged data impacting safety, popped up in many discussions. And in many, it was seen as a powerful driver of change. At an ITDP networking event - What does Transit Oriented Development mean to you? - Safetipin stressed on the difference in the mobility patterns of women and men and why such patterns must be addressed in TOD from a gender equality perspective. At another side event on Sustainable Transport by Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) at the German Pavilion placed inside the fantastic WUF 9 exhibition space, found Safetipin’s solution to be unique to address urban mobility and safety among other strategies adopted to make cities inclusive. The event Using Apps to Address Gender Based Violence saw the presentation of three apps that address violence and was followed by a productive discussion on how to ensure that apps can be more widely used and useful for women in situations of distress. The benefits as well as limitations of technology were discussed. Huaiwei in partnership with UN Habitat organized a session on Measurement of Safe City Approaches which had presentations form many countries including South Korea and Safetipin from India. The aim of the session was to assess different ways of measuring indicators of how to make cities safer using technology, big data and other kinds of data that will enable deeper understanding. At yet another side event on Asia’s Solution to Asia’s Urban Challenges: Delivering the New Urban Agenda through South-South Cooperation by The Asia Foundation – looked at various challenges and strategies undertaken by various approaches in the global south to address its own urban issues. Safetipin was seen as such a solution which was developed in the south and is being used extensively in the south. Safetipin’s own side event – Using data and technology to build inclusive public spaces in cities – presented experiences of collaboratively collecting data by partnering with Safetipin in order to build inclusive public spaces. Stories from low income settlements to cooperation from enthusiastic youths were shared while collecting data in India and other countries. Safetipin’s co-founder Dr. Kalpana Viswanath represented Safetipin at the above sessions along with Rwitee Mandal, an urban designer working with Safetipin. Kalpana also moderated a high profile UN-Habitat event – Urban Planning and Design for Local Implementation which focused and debated on policy recommendations in the implementation of the NUA. Kuala Lumpur successfully hosted the weeklong WUF 9 and would be remembered by all the participants world over to have attended a brilliantly organized and managed event at the state of the art Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in sunny and drizzly KL. Kuala Lumpur Declaration was announced at the closing ceremony which said – “Led by a strong spirit of collaboration, creativity and innovation, we share our aspirations for the future of Cities 2030 as the Cities for all where no-one and no place is left behind.”

Wed, 07 Mar, 2018

Who designed your latest mobile phone app? Probably a bunch of 20-somethings. Apps, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and other digital advancements are designed by young people mostly for young people. Imagine if we could channel their youthful energy and ingenuity to produce useful development outcomes. It can happen. At the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, young delegates used virtual reality to design spaces for displaced young people, and built a mobile app for fundraising. But the potential is tremendous for youth to use such technologies for much greater development impact. Young people are nearly twice as networked than the global population as a whole. In most of the world’s least developed countries, they are nearly three times more likely to be using the internet than the rest of general public. Information and communications technology (ICT) has helped youth to mobilize, collaborate, socialize, and have a voice. Asia and the Pacific, home to 60% of the world’s youth, should lead the world in using technology to make a difference in developing countries. One key area where ICT can make a difference is on social accountability, by putting information from the citizen's perspective directly into the hands of the government officials who have the capacity to make change happen. Its potential was highlighted during a recent pilot initiative by ADB using Safetipin. This map-based mobile application collects safety- and transport-related information from audits conducted by users to generate safety scores that can then be used to improve the security of cities for pedestrians. Is Manila safe for pedestrians? The Youth for Asia team from ADB’s NGO and Civil Society Center collected 1,946 audits over 3 months in Manila, the Philippines’ capital city. The pilot mobilized 144 young people on the ground and raised awareness among over 400 youth on issues like pedestrian safety. Awareness was raised primarily among Filipino university students through capacity building workshops, but the team also reached out to youth across the ASEAN region through events. The broader incentive was to explore ways in which youth can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goal No. 11 on safe cities for all. The data provides us with an analysis of how people feel about their safety in Manila across various parameters. For instance, at 25% of the locations surveyed there was poor lighting, and 39% lacked access to transport within 400 meters. Half of the locations did not have any security, 21% had either no or substandard foot paths, and 45% had low visibility. The overall feeling of safety was rated as average, with a score of 3.2 out of 5. Further data analysis can provide urban planners with feedback on what infrastructure upgrades are most needed.   An interesting feature of the pilot study is that the team conducted intensive capacity building sessions prior to the audit walks. We ran training sessions at local universities to explain how to use Safetipin and its parameters, as well as to highlight the value of ICT-based social accountability tools. This exercise greatly improved the quality of the data. Students made good use of the comment box in the application to provide qualitative information on the areas they were auditing, and did not limit themselves to only rating the different predefined parameters. Youth should be partners in development A few takeaways from our experience are: Youth genuinely care and will go that extra mile to contribute to a cause that affects society at large. Even during heavy downpours in Manila, the youth were spirited and continued to audit the roads. Youth have the ability to take risk and deal with uncertainty with the hope that this will lead to larger good. Auditors from the Girl Scouts of the Philippines overcame parental apprehension and secured consent to join the team to conduct audits. Youth have a certain kind of resilience and optimism that creates an atmosphere conducive to positive change. There were some technical glitches and connection problems, but participants did not give up and agreed to repeat the exercise when the data was not stored properly the first time. We have the data and numbers that prove why youth should be partners in development. By using Safetipin, we were able to mobilize youth to gather information needed to improve the quality of life in their city. The next question is: how can we scale up these small stand-alone initiatives and integrate them into larger projects both within and outside ADB? Mobilizing youth to generate data for social good can create the momentum for change. It’s just a matter of thinking big and putting together smart plans, so youth aren’t just beneficiaries of development – we can actually make it happen.  

Fri, 10 Feb, 2017

The safety of women is an important concern in cities around the world. Data shows that women are at risk of sexual harassment and violence in many, if not all cities, especially after dark. This prevents many women and girls from participating in city life. The United Nations has identified the need for safe and inclusive public city spaces as one of its Sustainable Development Goals. The co-founders of Safetipin — one an expert on women’s safety and the other on technology and apps — combined their skills to make a mobile app that addressed this problem. Safetipin is an app that seeks to use technology and data to make cities more inclusive, safe and violence-free for women and others. At the core of the app is the Safety Audit — a methodology of assessing public spaces that have been used in more than 40 cities around the world, according to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. It consists of the following parameters, which all contribute to the perception of safety: LightingOpennessVisibilityCrowdWalk pathAvailability of public transportSecurityGender diversityFeeling Safetipin took this methodology and used it to make a mobile app that collects user data for each of these parameters. The app is free to download and can be used in any city around the world. Any user can perform safety audits of an area, and the app collects and shares the information for others to view, creating an interactive platform for people to share data about safety.   So far, Safetipin has collected data in more than 30 cities in India and beyond. This information can help users make safer decisions about where they travel. The data is also shared with city stakeholders to help them improve the safety of the cities by pointing out deficiencies and problems in public spaces that make them unsafe. The app lets users access safety data immediately, letting them see how safe neighborhoods are and contribute their own findings. Furthermore, Safetipin has a tracking feature through which women can request to be tracked by a friend or family member if they find themselves in a vulnerable situation. Safetipin has been designed to help women make safer decisions and to provide data to urban stakeholders to improve safety. The aim is to work toward preventing violence against women so they will be able to safely enjoy public spaces in cities all around the world. By deciding to make a mobile app that addressed this important issue, Safetipin’s founders are helping to build safer cities through mobile technology.   Download MySafetipin App Download Women Safety App

Mon, 19 Dec, 2016

The Secretariat of Women of Bogota (SDMUJER), in the representation of Metropolis Women, made the presentation "Building Safe Cities for Women with Safetipin", as part of the learning forum on mobility which took place at 5th UCLG Congress. Carlota Alméciga Romero, director of knowledge management at SDMUJER, and César Pinzón-Medina, professionally specialized in the SDMUJER, in collaboration with Kalpana Viswanath, director-founder of Safetipin – a mobile application that allows citizens to share information on security in public spaces –, were responsible for including the gender perspective in the session. They focused their presentation on the state and the perception of security of women during their travels around the city, and how to build a safer Bogotá for all, with the participation of  its citizens. The project, led by SDMUJER and articulated with several institutions and international enterprises, initiated in the framework of the International Seminar of Safe Cities held in 2013 in Bogota, which involved other cities that integrate the network: Medellín, Mexico City, Montréal and New Delhi. Since then, two phases of the project have been carried out: in the first phase, 4,000 km of streets were mapped; in the second phase, more than 300 km of the network of bicycle lanes in the Colombian capital were traveled. In this framework, SDMUJER is now collecting three levels of information very useful for decision-making: points identified as unsafe by Safetipin points that women of different neighborhoods have identified as unsafe locations points where there has been at least one act of violence   Download My Safetipin App  

Thu, 24 Nov, 2016