Insights from Safetipin’s 10th-Anniversary Conference and Workshop

Insights from Safetipin’s 10th-Anniversary Conference and Workshop

Growing up in a city, the echoes of caution — “Don’t step out late at night,” “Get home before it gets dark,” “Don’t go out alone” — are familiar refrains for many girls. The expectation was that, as adults, these restrictions would dissolve. Unfortunately, the reality often falls short. Recently under the UP government’s Safe City project, private coaching institutes have been restricted from allowing girls in “late-evening classes” to ensure their security. While the intention is to create a safer environment, questions arise about the effectiveness of imposing restrictions on girls’ mobility during specific times. This challenges the idea of freedom and limits girls’ choices. We need robust urban policies to change this narrative to enable women and marginalized communities to move and grow without fear. The journey towards this change has been Safetipin’s mission over the last ten years.

As the year draws to a close, we reflect on our most impactful conference of the year: “Shaping our Cities: Towards Gender-Responsive Policy and Practice. It was hosted on November 2nd, 2023 at the India Habitat Centre, with support from Fondation Botnar and Women Mobilize Women, GIZ to commemorate our 10-year journey.

The conference wasn’t just an event but a celebration — a gathering of change-makers determined to transform cities into safer, inclusive, and equitable spaces. Over 160 participants from government bodies, NGOs, academia, media, and women’s and youth groups joined for a common cause: to make cities better, responsive, and equitable. Witnessing the diverse group of Safetipin partners and supporters over the years was a powerful testament to the organization’s impact.

“Cities make us. They shape our lives, our careers, and our stories”. Dr. Kalpana Viswanath’s statement echoed profoundly with everyone present. To truly address our complex challenges, we must focus on creating gender-inclusive systems, fostering an economy of care, and upholding the ethics of care. Let’s delve into why this perspective is vital for shaping sustainable and equitable cities.

Women have started claiming their rights and are accessing opportunities for education and employment. However, fear of violence and harassment restricts them from achieving their goals most of the time. Therefore, it is crucial to integrate gender equality into the fabric of urban development, with inclusivity, accessibility, and equal participation for all in our city spaces. It is not just about roads and buildings; it is about fostering a city where everyone feels safe, can move freely, and has an equal stake in the urban journey.

In shaping urban governance, the significance of data supported by evidence cannot be overstated. There was an emphasis on the power of information to drive policy changes that could effectively address gender disparities.

The youth hold the key to prosperity. However, numerous barriers hinder our potential contribution, particularly limited access to education, vocational training, and employment opportunities. A powerful message echoed during the conversation – the imperative need to empower and actively include the youth as agents of change.

Amidst the insightful discussions at the conference, a key learning emerged in the discourse on enhancing women’s engagement in the mobility sector. It highlighted the crucial role of well-crafted policies that prioritize inclusivity and equality, acknowledging women as vital contributors and stakeholders in the dynamic realm of mobility.

The day peaked as people from different backgrounds shared insights and enjoyed vibrant conversations. In a shared moment of reflection during the reception friends and partners.
graciously shared their unique experiences and perspectives, offering a glimpse into the enduring partnerships that have been created over the decade.

Workshop on Building Feminist Cities:
The second day of Safetipin’s milestone celebration witnessed an engaging workshop on ‘Building Feminist Cities: Towards Inclusive and Sustainable Transport Systems’ in collaboration with Women Mobilize Women at The Park Hotel, New Delhi on November 3rd, 2023.

The discussions during the workshop were rich and varied. The conversations underscored a crucial shift in perspective—from the mere protection of women to the empowerment of women as active citizens asserting their rights. Central to this empowerment is ensuring accessible public transport. Stress was placed on the importance of adopting a gendered lens in urban planning to address these challenges comprehensively. Listening to the insights from the narratives of women working in the transportation sector offered us a fresh and enlightening perspective. There are many hurdles that they face, including gender-biased job delegation for metro operators and the absence of basic facilities like separate toilets, sanitary pads, and childcare leave. Embarking on their roles in the transport sector, women operators encounter a myriad of challenges. In the intricate web of urban planning, public transport systems often overlook the diversity of commuters, especially women and other marginalized communities. There is an urgent need to craft policies that consider the entire journey, making public transport inclusive and responsive to diverse needs.

As a conclusion to two days of intense conversations, the participants dove into the collaborative crafting of manifestos, envisioning cities that embrace feminism and inclusivity during the final session themed ‘A Manifesto Towards Feminist Transport Systems.’The creative endeavor saw a dynamic use of diverse props, transforming the process into innovative map-making. This engaging exercise didn’t just mark the end; it set the stage for a hopeful future. The ultimate goal was to establish a global learning network poised to exchange resources and knowledge, ensuring the momentum continues.

Catch the conference highlights in this video.

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