These 7 Apps Are All That A Working Woman Needs In Her Life

Women are multi-taskers! We have some much going on in our minds that at times it is difficult to keep pace with all our thoughts. Thanks to the interesting world of apps, today many of our monotonous tasks and reminders can be effectively taken care of.Are you still struggling with all your day-to-day activities? Pass on the load to these super-efficient apps and spare yourself some much needed me-time. myPill Is it a task to stay on time with that birth control pill? Download myPill and ensure that you are protected all the time. Like a personal assistant, the app reminds you when to take the pill, tracks symptoms, suggests other forms of contraception, and also updates you on when to schedule a check-up with your gynecologist.     Safetipin In a line - this is your personal guardian cum bodyguard. Its GIS mapping service contains a location based tracking feature that enables you to track the location of your loved ones. Along with incorporating GPS tracking, it also stores emergency contact numbers and directions to safe locations. The app also suggests the SafetyScore of a place. So if you are venturing into a new location check the SafetyScore of that place vis-à-vis that of any other known place.    Hair Color Booth Love to get experimental with your hair color but always scared about how you will look post the experiment. Don’t worry the Hair Color Booth app lets you find out exactly how you will look with purple hair or with little blue streaks here and there. Choose from a mammoth range of color options to create that one unique combination.    HTW – Heel the World This is a one-of-a-kind fun platform for all the lovely women! A huge network of women are already using this platform to share and overcome hurdles that women typically face on a day-to-day basis like adjusting to new cities, jobs etc. due to career transitions. So, why not you? This forum also helps fellow women on issues related to relationships, career choices, finance related decisions etc. An exclusive app for the Indian women, this platform works in the form of communities where you can be a part of the travellers, foodies, mothers, artists, new in town, or pet lovers community to connect and mingle with like-minded women. No wonder it is said that only a woman understands what another woman wants! Period Tracker Are you unable to keep a track of your menstruation dates, thanks to your busy schedule? Outsource the task to the awesome Period Tracker and you will never be caught unawares on this front. It’s very simple! Just press a button on the onset of your cycle, Period Tracker will log the date and calculate an average from your last 3 months cycle to predict the start date of your next cycle. What's more? It also keeps a tab on symptoms such as bloating, acne, backaches, cramps, and not to forget, your mood swings.   Pose A one-stop destination to celebrate everything fashionable! Join this creative gang to learn about the latest in the fashion world and get access to the latest fashion inspirations that are one-of-a-kind. You can do a lot with this app - follow top bloggers and brands, keep a tab of what your favorite celebrities are wearing, catch on that vintage dress that you have been eyeing for long, straight from the stylish wardrobes of designers spread across the length and breadth of our country. You can also find like-minded stylists, share, and learn many fashion tips as you browse along.   Beautylish Get access to the latest beauty looks and make-up trends, pick up essential make-up and styling tips, and last but not the least, shop for some really amazing beauty products – all this on one amazing app.      Which of these apps did you find most useful? Tell us through the comments section below.  Article Source.....Polka Cafe

7 Best Women Safety Apps - Safetipin

Women safety has become the utmost priority of the Indian government considering the increasing cases of crime against women. There are various safety apps present on the play store designed for the protection and security of women. Therefore on this International Women’s day, we combined a list of best 7 safety apps for women, which will ensure that they are not alone anywhere they go. The basics of most apps are similar — a user-decided list of emergency contacts to alert, and transmission of GPS-determined location — but the newer ones are easier to use, almost intuitive.   Safetipin Safetipin is one of the good options when it comes to safety apps for women. The app is designed keeping in mind the concept of personal safety. It incorporates all the essential features such as GPS tracking, emergency contact numbers, directions to safe locations etc. The app also pins the safe areas along with their safety scores to go at the time of any problem. It also enables the users to pin unsafe areas and help others.  Safetipin is available in Hindi, Bahasa, and Spanish, besides English.   Raksha The Raksha app is designed to ensure that women stay safe always. The app comes equipped with a button, which will send alerts to your loved ones with your location in a situation of distress. You can select the contacts, which will be able to see your location. Moreover, if the app is switched off and is not working then also you will be able to send alerts by simply pressing the volume key for three seconds. The app also has SOS functionality and can also send SMS if stuck in a non-internet area.   Himmat The Himaat app is a free safety app recommend for women by the Delhi Police. In order to use the app, the user has to register at the Delhi Police website. Once the registration is complete the user will receive an OTP, which has to be entered at the time of completing the app configuration. In a problematic situation if the user raises the SOS alert from the app, the location information, and audio video will be directly transmitted to the Delhi Police control room following which the police will reach the location.   Women safety The next on our list is the Women Safety app that will inform and update your dear ones if you are stuck in an unsafe place. It will send all the details related to your location with just a tap of a button. The app will send an SMS to a preconfigured number along with your location and a link of Google Maps. The app will also click two pictures with the front and rear camera, which are directly uploaded to the server. The Women safety app comprises of three coloured buttons based on the seriousness of a situation. So, you can tap the one you want depending on your situation.   Smart24x7 The Smart24x7 app is supported by the various states' police just to ensure the safety of women and senior citizens. The app sends panic alerts to emergency contacts in a problematic situation. It also records voices and also takes photographs during the panic situation and transfers these to the police as well. It also has call center support, which will track down the primary movements of the user. Users just need to press the panic button and select the type of service required and then finally click on submit.   Shake 2 Safety The Shake2Safety app is the easiest to use. The user just needs to shake their smartphone or just press the power button four times to send an SOS text or call to the registered numbers. It works with the locked screen on and even without an internet connection. Moreover, the users will also have the ability to activate or deactivate the option of shaking the device to send an alert. The app can also be used in case of an accident, harassment, robbery or any natural calamities.   bSafe app   The bSafe app ensures the safety and security of women. It allows contacts follow you through a live GPS trail and also set a timed alarm which goes off if you haven’t ‘checked in’. Moreover, it will also make your phone ring with a fake call and also notifies the emergency contacts with the location, video and even siren.   Article Source........ economic times      

A Gender Smart Investment for Women and Girls

While women and girls are increasingly able to realize their rights and contribute to society, they continue to face enormous challenges and disadvantages across Asia. Today data shows that no country can get ahead if it leaves women and girls behind. In the words of former World Bank President Robert Zoellick: “Gender equality is smart economics.” Beyond smart economics, progress on the new Sustainable Development Goals – at the heart of the UN Commission on the Status of Women held last month – will not be possible without gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Last week I had the pleasure of participating in the fourth annual Young Lotus Circle Soirée at the Sun Klein Gallery in New York City, hosted by The Asia Foundation’s Lotus Circle, a community of individuals, foundations, and corporations who raise private capital to rapidly respond to threats and challenges facing women in Asia. The event highlighted individual stories of women and girls whose lives were changed by The Asia Foundation’s work. Young Lotus Circle co-founder and advisor Lin Nie Jamison spoke about the importance of providing opportunities for women and girls in Asia to be able to make the critical decisions that affect their lives, and examples of impact she has seen over many years. “The Women’s Empowerment Program connects our resources with women in Asia to improve their lives. Just by being here this evening you have set in motion virtuous cycles,” she told the packed room. For example, in India, where domestic violence has become a source of national outrage, Lotus Circle funds were used to support SafetiPin, a mobile app which allows users to conduct “safety audits” in their cities and shine a virtual spotlight on unsafe areas for women. In Bangladesh, Lotus Circle funds are supporting women entrepreneurs to establish and grow their businesses by developing e-commerce websites that increase their access to information, innovative technologies, and external markets. And in Vietnam, Lotus Circle funding has allowed more than 200 girls in the Mekong Delta region to overcome substantial barriers to continue their education.   The Asia Foundation’s trustee emerita and long-time Lotus Circle advisor Gina Lin Chu also spoke at the Soirée. It is through Gina’s vision and commitment that The Asia Foundation’s gender smart initiative, which invests in opportunities for staff to obtain specialized skills in gender integration and women’s empowerment, is made possible. Through this initiative, our Women’s Empowerment team facilitates collaborative gender trainings to build our staff capacity to promote gender equality across all Asia Foundation programs. To date we have conducted trainings in six countries, most recently in Bangladesh in March. The trainings have an impact in three ways. First, it builds a gender lens among staff and a new understanding of how gender norms affect us all in many aspects of our lives. By identifying a few staff in each field office with expertise in gender to be part of a “gender committee,” to co-facilitate the training together, we focus on transferring knowing and skills and building local capacity. Second, it impacts our office environment, as the training facilitates discussions about our institutional commitment to gender equality and our organizational gender policy, which affects how we work together. Third, by using a gender analysis framework to critically analyze our programs and develop gender action plans, we ensure our programs identify the specific needs of women, men, boys, and girls and promote gender equality holistically. That evening, the enormous support and commitment to investing in women and girls across Asia were palpable. The passion of Lin Nie Jamison, Gina Lin Chu, and members of the Young Lotus Circle in the public, private, and non-profit sectors is deeply inspiring and makes the work we do at The Asia Foundation possible. Looking ahead, on May 11 The Asia Foundation will host its sixth annual Lotus Leadership Awards Gala and will honor First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani, named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people for her steadfast commitment to advancing women’s and girls’ rights in Afghanistan. Carnegie Corporation will be also be honored for its partnership with The Asia Foundation to improve access to university and advanced level education for Afghan women. Vartan Gregorian will accept the Lotus Leadership Award for Carnegie. Watch this space for a one-on-one interview with Gregorian in the weeks ahead. Article Source..........Asia Foundation

In Gurgaon, Going to Office is a Risky Business

Counted among one of the fastest growing corporate hubs in the country, Gurgaon is home to more than 250 Fortune500 companies. But it seems that the city has been unable to provide a safe environment to its large number of office goers, especially women. A safety audit conducted recently by social enterprise Safetipin has found that all major corporate or commercial hubs in Gurgaon score low on safety parameters. In the survey, the hubs were rated on nine parameters- lighting, openness, visibility, crowd, security, footpaths, transport, gender usage and feeling of safety. Areas with average scores below 1 out of 5 have been rated ‘poor’, those with scores between 1 and 3.4 have been rated ‘average’ and the ones with scores above 3.4 have been rated ‘good’.   Interestingly, among the six commercial hubs-- MG Road, Golf Course Road, Sector 34, Sector 44, Cyber City and Udyog Vihar-- only MG Road has scored above 3 out of 5.   Golf Course Road, which has several offices, hotels, and posh condominiums, was ranked one of the lowest with a score of only 1.6 out of 5. Safetipin has rated the area ‘average’.   The safety scenario of the area is important as at least 15 projects have been planned here, including expansion of Golf Course Road to make it a 16-lane expressway and southward extension of the Rapid Metro from the Sikanderpur station to Sector 56. Commuters passing through the area and corporate employees working here said though it is being developed rapidly, safety has not been given due importance.   They said there is very little police presence in the area most of the times.   “Thousands of people come to this area every day but it has no streetlights, sign boards or footpaths, making commuting very difficult. Also, policemen are rarely seen patrolling the area,” said Ankita Singh, whose office is in the area.   Similarly, the DLF Cyber City road, a 2-km long circular loop which has more than 10 buildings, has scored only 2.3 out of 5, which is ‘average’. The buildings house hundreds of corporate offices where over three lakh employees come to work every day.   Most of those working in the area agreed with the survey results. According to them, the place is plagued by several problems like lack of footpaths, police presence and streetlights. Women working in the area say a lot of stretches there are dark and they feel unsafe at night.   “There is a wine shop very close to my office and a lot of people park their vehicles there at night,” said Yashika Batla, an employee of a Gurgaon-based MNC who lives in Delhi.   Udyog Vihar, which has several companies in and around it, has also scored low in the audit. It has been given a score of only 2.9 out of 5, which is also ‘average’.   Office-goers complain that public transport facilities and last-mile connectivity in the area are very poor.   “The area is lined up with big and small firms, but there is no last-mile connectivity in Udyog Vihar. It is difficult to find an autorickshaws in the area, especially at night. Also bus services are not available here,” said Ridhima Singh, employee of an MNC in the area.   Similarly, Sector 44, which has several offices, hotels and even a cultural hub, Epicentre, has not scored high. The sector has scored 1.5, performing badly on four parameters of security, transport, lighting and gender usage.   Sector 34, which has the office of the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon, has also fared badly in the survey, scoring an average of 2.1.   “There are a lot of dark stretches around Sector 34. Another major problem faced by us is frequent waterlogging,” said Anuraga Basu, a resident of Sector 34.   Pooja Misra, an employee of a private firm in Sector 44, said, “The area is crowded all the time but we rarely see police patrolling the roads.”   Surprisingly, MG Road is among the top scorers in the commercial area category, with an average score of 3.4.  The road, with nine malls on each side and a metro station, is infamous for poor safety, with several incidents of drunken brawls being reported from here in the past. Residents of the area said though the area is well-lit and has many options for last-mile connectivity like auto rickshaws, buses, and metro, it is unsafe at night. “My parents do not allow me to travel alone on MG Road after 9pm. There are several bars and clubs and there have been cases where drunken men have created a nuisance on the road,” said Harshita Pande, a resident of the city.   Even four Metro stations-- Huda City Centre, Iffco Chowk, MG Road, and Sikanderpur-- in the city have not passed the safety test. No Metro station, other than the one on MG Road, scored an average of more than 2 out of 5 in the Safetipin audit.  Iffco Chowk Metro station scored the lowest with an average score of only 1.5, followed by the Huda City Centre station with an average score of 1.7. According to metro commuters, there are many dark and deserted stretches around these stations and this makes them unsafe. Also, the last-mile connectivity is poor and police presence is very low. “There is very little security around metro stations. CISF officials keep a strict vigil inside the stations but as one steps out, there is no security at all. Last-mile connectivity is also a problem,” said Nikita Sharma, a college student.   The police, meanwhile, said they are taking several initiatives to make the city safer. “The police have taken serious initiatives like ‘Romeo Free Gurgaon’ and community policing. We will make more efforts to ensure that the residents of Gurgaon feel safe on roads,” said Balbir Singh, deputy commissioner of police (crime), Gurgaon.   ‘I was robbed while on a morning walk in Sec 15’ Shalini Baweja, a 38-year-old entrepreneur who lives in Sector 15 part -1, goes formorning walk in the area every day around7am.  According to her, on January 19, while she was walking, two men on motorbike approached her and asked for the way to a golf course in the area. “While I was talking to them, one of them got down from the bike and snatched my gold chain,” said Baweja. “They then threatened me that if I shout for help, they will shoot me. One of them had a gun. The pillion rider then asked the driver to flee the spot,” she said. Baweja said there was no one on the stretch in the morning so she did not raise the alarm. She said since the incident, she has changed her morning walk route as well as the timings. In another case, An 80-year-old resident of Sector 15 part 2, Namisha Patel said two men cheated her and fled with her diamond ring worth Rs 2 lakh in October. She said the incident took place at a garden close to her house in the posh Sector 15 (part 1). According to the police, Patel had gone to the garden for morning walk when a man approached her, acting as an acquaintance. “He resembled a neighbour and so I thought it was him. He said he had started a new transport business and touched my feet for blessings saying it was his birthday that day,” Patel said. “Then suddenly he pulled out my ring and fled. His accomplice was waiting for him on a scooter. I returned home immediately and informed my family. The police was informed and a constable from the Civil Lines police station came and took down my complaint,” she said. The police said they are investigating the case. ‘My parents do not allow me to hire auto at night’ Priya Kumar, a 21-year-old resident of the city, uses the metro to go to work in Delhi every day. She generally finishes her work around 9 pm and takes the metro to return home. Kumar said she reaches Gurgaon around 10:30 pm and her parents make sure that someone goes to pick her up from the Sikanderpur Metro station as the area around it is not safe. “My parents do not allow me to hire an autorickshaw to reach home from the station,” said Kumar. “There have been many incidents when I was followed by drunken men who passed lewd comments at me. I cannot shout back or raise my voice as there is no police presence in the area at night,” she said. Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road (MG Road), on which the station is located, is infamous for incidents of crime against women. The area around the Metro station is not properly lit and sees a comparatively lower footfall after 8 at night. Located on the mall mile of the city, the station is close to shopping complexes which have a number of clubs and bars. Many incidents involving drunken men have been reported from the area. The police have taken several initiatives to check such incidents, including the ‘Romeo Free Gurgaon’ campaign. Though policemen are deployed on MG Road, they cannot cover the entire stretch. Personnel are generally deployed towards the MG Road metro station as it sees a higher footfall and is close to the malls. “There are several police jeeps in the area but they are mostly deployed towards the MG Road station. The area around Sikanderpur Metro station is deserted after 10 pm. I feel very scared in the area,” Kumar said. Article Source.... Hindustan Times                

Smartphone Apps That Can Add to Your Sense of Security

Women safety remains a major concern in India, with gender crimes increasing by the day. Instances of eve-teasing, stalking and even rape are on the rise in cities like Delhi, Bangalore, and Calcutta. And this has created a sense of urgency among people. The software industry has responded to the crisis by putting out a slew of women safety apps, which can be easily installed in smartphones and can send quick distress signals to law enforcement agencies should the need arise. Here’s a look at some top performers in this area.   My SafetiPin is a personal safety app which guides users around cities based on a safety score of its areas. The app has a robust personal safety tracker feature to act as your personal guardian. The SafetiPin GPS navigation app lets you track a person who has turned his/her “Track Me” button on. You will receive an alert and can choose to invite friends or family to track you. It uses your phone’s GPS locator to record information about your location and uses GPS tracking to connect you with friends and family whenever you feel unsafe. The user’s movement can be traced in real time on a map – which means that a crisis call can be responded to without any time lost. Users can also find the safest route around a city using this app. You can view alternate routes from one place to another, and select one that’s deemed the safest as per the app. The safety ratings are based on research and are statistically validated. The app also allows users to pin unsafe areas in order to help others.   Raksha: Women Safety Alert -The Raksha app is designed to ensure that women stay safe in all situations outdoors. This app comes equipped with a button, which, once pressed, sends alerts to your friends and family along with your location. Users can of course nominate and authorize the person, or a group of people, receiving the distress call. You can also send location alert to others without switching on the Raksha app — simply by pressing the volume button on your phone. In most safety apps, users are only allowed to nominate and send distress messages to any five people. But in this one, multiple contacts can be added to your personal list. There’s a also a quick dial option to reach the local police. The best part is that even if the app is switched off and is not working, you’d still be able to send alerts by simply pressing the volume key of your phone for three seconds. The app also has SOS functionality and can send SMSes in case the user doesn’t have internet access.    Himmat -  This is a free app recommend for women by the Delhi Police. In order to use this app, the user has to register on the official Delhi Police website. Once the registration is finally complete, the user will receive a one-time password or an OTP, which is required to configure the app on your smartphone. In case of an emergency, users who have this app installed on their phone can send an alert simply by shaking the phone, or alternatively by pressing its power button/soft button. As soon as the button is pressed, the app transmits an SOS alert, including the data about the phone’s present location, to the Delhi Police control room. An SMS alert will also be sent through the app to five of the users nominated friends or relatives. On top of that, an automatic message will be posted through the app on the user’s Facebook and Twitter timelines. The app also has “Safety Tips” module, offering a first-aid guide.   Nirbhaya: Be Fearless - This one is an android-based application which can send distress calls or emergency messages to a specified contact or group. The app sends an alarm by way of an SMS, with a location tag of the user, to the configured group through the GPS system. The user can also shake her device to send an emergency message even if the phone is locked — the message is delivered directly to the group of contacts as assigned to the SOS key. The users can also mark their current location or any other on the map as safe or unsafe — with the option of writing more elaborate comments on specific areas. Correct location, information and communication with and from the app are dependent upon the basic hardware/software requirements, which include an active data/SMS plans, minimum talk time and active GPS functionality.   VithU  -  VithU App is a Channel V initiative to curb problems related to women safety in Indian cities. VithU is an emergency app that, at the click of the power button of your smartphone twice, begins sending out alert messages every two minutes to your contacts that you feed into the app as designated receivers or guardians. The default message says: “I am in danger. I need help. Please follow my location.” The app lets a potential victim skip through the number-punching, and lets her push the phone’s power button twice to instantly send an SOS alert to contacts. The receiver gets a link to your updated location every two minutes. The app also offers updates on reported crimes in Indian cities, and has a user-friendly “Tips Feed” section for safety tips in emergency situations. Article Source -

Crowd-Sourcing Safety - Safetipin

Initiative encourages use of SafetiPin app   U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma and Canadian High Commissioner to India Nadir Patel on Thursday inaugurated the “Campus Ambassador Programme: Making Delhi City Safer”.   The initiative aims to empower the youth to play an active role in developing and planning safer cities and hopes encourage them to use a newly-developed app, SafetiPin, to collect safety-related data and report on violations or issues around the city.   SafetiPin is a United Nations-supported tool to enable development of safer cities through a collection of data, crowdsourcing, information sharing and engaging people to make the city a safer place. Users will be able to check the safety score of an area using the map-based app, which uses nine parameters to come up with the score.   The app also acts as a GPS-enabled tracker, allowing users to switch on the “track me” device if they are traveling in an area they feel comfortable in and people on the user’s list will be able to track them till they find their way home.   Kalpana Viswanath, the co-founder of SafetiPin, said the app believes in using technology to make cities safer and more inclusive for women. “The app provides critical information that helps people make safer decisions while moving around a city and alerts you if you are in an unsafe area,” she added.   The initiative is part of the Frame Her Right campaign, an initiative inspired by Half the Sky Movement, which was launched in 2014 as part of a USAID-funded public-private partnership seeking to challenge harmful gender norms and behaviors. Coinciding with International Women’s Day celebrations, PVR Nest has tied up with the initiative to screen the campaign film at select theaters for 90 days.   Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Verma said the launch of the Campus Ambassador Programme was both timely and necessary as India has the world’s largest youth population. He felt that globalization, technological advances and spread of social networking offer new opportunities for the youth to connect and become more active participants in finding solutions to the world’s toughest development challenges. The launch was followed by a panel discussion, in which actor Kalki Koechlin participated.   Stating she was glad that society was consciously moving in the right direction towards women empowerment, Ms. Koechlin she was excited about the fact that the programme had so many different stakeholders who had joined together to contribute to a significant cause.   Speaking about PVR’s role in the initiative, Ajay Bijli, the CMD of PVR Ltd., said since the ultimate crusaders of this women’s safety programme are our youngsters, PVR will connect with them through various films and student-focused content.   Article Source.............The Hindu

Only 18 per cent of Nairobi is safe, safety audit report shows

An audit report by the Nairobi City County and UN Habitat’s Safer Cities Programme shows that only 18 per cent of the city is safe.  The report dubbed “The City’s Report on the State of Urban Security” is based on a city-wide urban safety audit carried out between March 2015 and June 2016 by the county government in collaboration with Safetipin, a map-based online and mobile application.  As a result of the report, City residents are now able to ascertain the safety of their neighborhoods.  The report covered 744 kilometers of roads in Nairobi with the audit showing that only 18 per cent of Nairobi is safe, 56 per cent of streets in the capital fairly lit, 35 per cent having good visibility and 56 per cent having access to public transport. The report corroborates findings of another one released mid-2016 by Numbeo, a free database of user-contributed data about cities and countries worldwide.  It placed Nairobi at position 46 in the crime index report with a score of 63.24 and position 231 in the safest cities in the world and a safety index of 36.76 in the 277 cities surveyed. SAFER LIVING IN CITY   Speaking during the launch, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero said the unique application provides a holistic approach to addressing safety and security that will foster safer living in the city.  “This Safetipin application audit has indicated where people feel unsafe and why they feel that way.  “With these revelations, the county government will be able to plan and act to effect change through formulation of informed policies, decisions and investments that support the promise of a safer Nairobi for its citizens,” said Dr Kidero. He added that the audit report is also expected to provide an opportunity for stakeholder engagement and promote a multi-stakeholder approach to crime prevention that will allow all stakeholders to deliver measurable improvements in safety. DEVELOP SAFETY STRATEGIES “This audit will allow all of us, including the national government, to deliver measurable improvement in safety. It also presents us with another step to generate data to help the county in developing strategies to build a safe city,” he added. Governor Kidero also revealed that the county was planning to establish a modern centre for learning aimed at building the capacity of the county’s security team and empower them to better respond to urban management and governance issues arising from rapid urbanisation. On her part, co-founder of Safetipin India, Dr Kalpana Viswanath, said that the technology was a platform that uses data to make cities more inclusive, safe and free from violence, particularly for women and girls, by collecting information and engaging individuals and institutions to create solutions. “Apart from Nairobi, Safetipin methodology has been successfully applied in New Delhi in India, Bogota in Colombia and Jakarta in Indonesia. “This platform will save lives, make urban dwelling enjoyable and improve the environment for business,” she said.         Article Source.....Nation              

Apps to make women feel safer

Have you been scared of coming back home alone at night? Do you tend to look over your shoulder when walking on a secluded lane? If you are a woman in India, chances are high that your answers would be ‘yes’. Feeling uncomfortable and unsafe in the public spaces is not something uncommon in our country. Women can now turn to technology to help feel a bit safer. Several apps have been designed focusing especially on women’s safety. We take a look at some of these apps and what they do to help you lead a safer life. All the apps mentioned here are free on Android.   VithU: “I am in danger. I need help. Please follow my location,” is the message which will be sent to the saved contacts on this app if the user presses the power button twice consecutively. The message will be sent every two minutes, along with the link to the user’s updated location. The user can also look for safety tips on the “Tips Feed” section. Eyewatch Women: In situations like assault, road rage, accidents, lonely places, personal security threats, among others, this app sends out emergency alerts, locations, audios, visuals, along with other details to the contacts saved with the app. It uses GPRS, GPS and 3G for figuring out and sending the information. It sends SOS alert if the device is not connected to GPRS. When the user hits the alert button on the app, the phone camera will automatically start to make a video of 20 seconds or take five photographs and they are sent to the app’s secure server. It automatically calls up to three people who are saved with the app. On receiving the alert, the concerned people can check all the detailed information on the Eyewatch Alert Dashboard and take necessary steps to save the user. TellTail: The Delhi Multimodal Transport System launched this app for the purpose of women safety in the capital. It has three features, namely – Track Me, Track by Vehicle and Panic Button. With Track by Vehicle button, the users can share their location by using the GPS installed in autos, buses or other public transportation in the city. Track Me button can be used by the GPS on the user’s smartphone. There are three ways by which alerts can be sent to the ‘concerned’ people: The user can open the app and press the panic button; With the setting on, the user has to click the power button three times to activate the alarm; User can also shake the phone with a jerk three times to set off the alarm, setting needs to be turned on for this also. The receivers also need to have the app installed. They will receive an alarm, in case the GPS on the user’s phone is not turned on, it will still send a cellular code to figure out the tentative location. If the internet on user’s phone is off and GPS is on, SMS will still be sent which can be reverse geocoded if receiver’s phone has an internet connection. Safetipin: This map-based application lets users rate, share information and bring about a discussion on the safety of different locations. It basically helps users in checking the safety of any location. There are certain set of parameters, on the basis of which a safety score is assigned to the locations. Streets and roads are properly lit or not, if the area is deserted, are many women seen on the road or not, the proximity of public transport, are some of the parameters taken into consideration. Safety audits are conducted by the users who have downloaded the app and the Safetipin team. The purpose of this activity is to be able to assess the safety and to generate enough data so that improvement can be brought about. Other feature of the app includes allowing family members or friends to track the user’s real time location.  Article

How a woman can feel safe and own her city

A white dress with a lace overlay. It was one of my favourites. I wore it when I felt good about myself. I wore it for brunches, to meet friends and occasionally because I wanted to look nice. My beautiful white dress now stained a big fat scarlet letter…a memory of how for a brief period of time I was the lightning rod for slut shamers across the country.” Aishwarya’s account is part of Blank Noise’s ongoing I Never Ask For It campaign. You can contribute by submitting an audio account of the sexual assault you faced along with the garment you were wearing when it happened. The idea is to co-create a public installation made up of 10,000 garments and their stories by 2020. The venue should be a place of public significance such as India Gate, founder Jasmeen Patheja believes. “How deep-rooted is victim-blaming? How are spaces of violence connected? What does it mean for you to revisit something you’ve experienced and end blame? This is about anyone who is made to feel vulnerable and is made to feel shame,” says Patheja, who juggles many such complex yet fundamental ideas at Blank Noise, a network that seeks to transform attitudes towards private and public sexual violence. “We are in the process of co-creating a safe place together, a space that is not judging you,” adds Patheja, who started Blank Noise in 2003 as her final thesis project at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru. If you want to be inspired by the ideas surrounding women’s safety and our responses to everyday sexual violence, you need to look beyond the protective surveillance industry of CCTVs and mobile apps that invade your privacy rather than offer you any real assistance and, of course, court-sanctioned anti-Romeo vigilante squads who hunt down couples in public spaces allegedly to keep street harassment in check. Patheja’s response is my favourite but three state initiatives are also worth tracking. The Hyderabad police has been operating gender-sensitized SHE Teams comprising around four personnel (with at least one woman officer) for more than two years now. They roam the city incognito and speedily book perpetuators of street violence once a complaint is registered. In Pune, the municipal corporation recently converted old public transport buses into public loos. The buses are now equipped with five toilets, a shower area and a machine that dispenses sanitary napkins, The Indian Express reported. “Initially, women would hesitate to enter the bus, but once they check the cleanliness and safety, they use the facility and give good feedback about the service,” one attendant told the newspaper. In Mysuru, the police commissioner plans to equip the city’s 25,000 autorickshaws with an optically readable QR code by June. Anyone who downloads an app and registers can scan the prominently displayed code when they hail an auto. The app tracks the journey and offers more than one way to trigger an alarm that registers in the police control room if anything goes wrong. The app also offers you the option of recording the fact that the auto driver refused your ride. “In an ideal situation, all auto drivers would register and all commuters would have smartphones,” says police commissioner A. Subrahmanyeswara Rao, who knows this idea will have to evolve as it gets under way. Often ideas work best when it’s a partnership. Safetipin, an app that collects data about our streets in an attempt to make the city safer, has worked with the New Delhi Municipal Council to do a last-mile connectivity audit of the city’s Metro stations; the tourism department to evaluate the safety of 10 big city monuments; and with the public works department to identify 7,483 dark spots in the city. Safetipin does this by collecting data on factors that can improve our streets: the number of working streetlights, the presence of organized vendors, the state of pavements. “Public space improvement is a low-hanging fruit, much easier than mindset change,” says co-founder Kalpana Viswanath. One unusual cross-border partnership is between Why Loiter?, a campaign (born from a book by the same name) about the need for women to reclaim public spaces, and Girls At Dhabas, a similar initiative in Pakistan where roadside dhabas (eateries) are a male preserve. Why Loiter? inspired the Pakistani initiative and the two groups have been in touch on social media since 2015. Last year, they partnered for Why Loiter’s annual year-end campaign encouraging women in India and Pakistan to loiter, then post about it on social media and tag it #WhyLoiter. “We are friends and comrades and support each other in the common goal of: Let’s have more women out there loitering in public spaces. One day we hope to actually hang out and loiter together,” says Sameera Khan, co-author of the book. Then there are those citizens who don’t wait around for a non-governmental organization or a government agency to help them fix the problem. At their main campus in small-town Rajasthan, engineering college students of BITS Pilani recently united to remove a 40-year-old girls’ hostel curfew. Student union members went from door to door polling female students: “Should the girls’ hostel in-time restriction be removed?” Has the in-time restriction hampered your productivity and performance?” Parents were co-opted to support the move by signing a letter to the university. “The important thing about this letter is that it was phrased not to be a ‘No-Objection Letter’ but as a ‘Letter of Faith’ reaffirming the parent’s faith in their daughter’s decision making and in the institute’s decision to remove the curfew. An objection is a negative statement, but faith is a positive one,” says student Sibesh Kar in a blog outlining how they did it. The university didn’t respond formally, but the curfew was lifted. Sometimes, faith is all you need.  Article Source.. Live Mint    

Gender Makes a World of Difference for Safety on Public Transport

Urban environments are not gender-neutral. Architects and urban designers are increasingly seeking to understand how gender-sensitive design can combat the spatial inequities faced by those who identify as women and girls of all demographics, races and socio-economic groups. Public transport spaces, for instance, incubate many systemic issues. The observable differences between how men and women travel around cities can be attributed to the gendered power hierarchies entrenched in our society. As suggested by a University of California study, this may stem from our long history of gender inequality, which reinforces rigid binary definitions of femininity and masculinity. To this day, women are more likely than men to have extra domestic and caregiving responsibilities, but fewer transport options. This affects their travel patterns. Women are more likely to move between multiple destinations throughout their daily commute. Gendered inequalities in transport use open a myriad of additional concerns. For women, this includes a disproportionate fear of victimization in public transport spaces. Places of sexual harassment The spatial factors of public transport do not exist separately from these systemic gender issues. In particular, the scale and transitory nature of trams, trains, buses, taxis and ride-sharing services give perpetrators a guaranteed close and anonymous proximity to their targets. Women also feel more at risk in areas near to public transport. These spaces include pedestrian subways and bridges, stations, access and bike paths. As a result, avoiding danger in these areas has become a priority for women as they move around the city. Sexual harassment, as defined by the Centre Against Sexual Assault, is a crime that includes: stalking, unwanted touching, obscene gestures, voyeurism, unwanted sexual comments or jokes, sex-related insults, pressuring for dates or sex, indecent exposure, being forced to watch or participate in pornography, offensive written material, and unwanted offensive and invasive interpersonal communication through electronic devices or social media. It's reported to affect one in ten women. But the actual figure is likely to be much higher, as over 80% of sexual crimes against Australian women go unreported. The fear of sexual harassment in urban areas is so widespread that a 2016 national survey found Australian girls and women regularly modify their behavior to reduce their risk of harassment. More are staying at home rather than going out at night.  When they do go out, women make meticulous decisions about their clothing and limit their movements to particular areas of the city. Many completely avoid public transport spaces. This indicates that women are internalizing the message that safety from sexual harassment is solely their responsibility. Public transport providers perpetuate this message by advising commuters to regulate their behavior to stay safe. Travelers are encouraged to sit with other passengers, use the carriage closest to the driver's cabin, plan ahead to avoid extended waiting times, and keep to well-lit areas or designated "safety zones". This advice fails to acknowledge the role of gender in public transport safety. It also causes passengers who don't feel safe to become hypersensitive to their surroundings.  The provision of CCTV cameras and alarm buttons is important, but these may become useful only after a sexual crime has already been committed. So new approaches to safety need to be pursued. Of course, sexual harassment in public transport spaces is not exclusive to Australia. Several nations, including India, Pakistan, Mexico, the UK, Japan, Malaysia, Egypt, Philippines and European Union states, have introduced segregated public transport or taxi services as a response. In Australia, a female-only ride-sharing service, Shebah, is operating in Melbourne, Geelong, Sydney, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, with more locations on the way. The problem with short-term solutions Gender segregation is, however, only a short-term solution. It's problematic in that it reinforces the gender stereotypes contributing to the societal causes of sexual violence. Importantly, segregation marginalizes individuals from the LGBTQI community and those who have fluid or non-conforming gender identities. The present victim-blaming approach to safety on public transport does not only affect cis-gendered women. For example, the New South Wales Police website advises LGBTQI people to "wear something over your outfits, such as a jacket or overcoat, or consider changing at your destination" if "frocking up for the night (for example, in 'drag' or something revealing)". At a fundamental level, segregation perpetuates a rape culture that blames victims and frames all men as threats to women. It's a knee-jerk response that reinforces outdated power dynamics and erases the complexity of gender identity. Designing for safety Society is now acknowledging how factors of race, age, disability, socioeconomic status, sexuality, and gender intersect to influence the everyday lived experiences of Australians. We need to rethink our approach to safety design to reflect this understanding. By 2030, public transport use is predicted to grow by 30% in Australia. So it's crucial to create gender-sensitive, safe and accessible public transport spaces. Currently, sexual harassment does not significantly influence the safety design of our public transport environments. Instead, safety measures are generalized and gender-blind. But if we are to properly address this widespread issue, we need to include diverse voices in the conversation and conduct more research into how these environments contribute to sexual harassment. Collating data on the experiences of women and girls in cities, using geolocative methods and analysis, has produced promising results. Crowd-mapping techniques extend activist campaigns such as the international Everyday Sexism Project, South Asia's Safetipin, India's Harassmap, and the Australian pilot of Free to Be. These digital campaigns encourage women who have experienced or fear sexual harassment to disclose the location and context of their experience "in their own words, without the restrictions on a narrative form associated with the traditional justice system". With negative experiences resulting in entrenched behavior in women navigating through the city, creating safe public transport spaces is critical. We urgently need to build on the emerging data and develop new approaches to the design and delivery of urban transport that productively supports the needs of all urban Australians. Article