National municipal policies and laws for safe cities for women and girls

What are Gender-based National and Municipal Policies and Laws for Safe Cities?

Public policies encompass goals, decisions and actions undertaken by the government in order to address a problem. Public Policies are interrelated sets of goals, decisions, and actions developed by governments that seek to respond to a public problem that has been identified as a priority or that is something the existing government committed to addressing (Burijovich; 2005). A public policy typically proposes action strategies, programmes that respond to these strategies, and goals that the action strategies and programmes are supposed to reach. As with any other policy, public policies around safety and security from a gender approach imply a process consisting of the following steps: 1) Problem identification; 2) Assessment of the problem; 3) Proposing solutions to the problem; 4) Selecting and implementing one or more of the proposed solutions (for which budget allocation is necessary); and 5) Monitoring and evaluating results. For the development of any public policy, it is important to do a baseline assessment, that is, the problem identification phase will require gathering and analyzing information on women’s perceptions of insecurity, as well as objective data on gender-based violence. During this baseline assessment, as well as during the next stages, it is necessary to include women's insights in order to find the best solutions to the problem, taking into account their specific needs and contexts. A gender perspective should be incorporated in all stages of planning and designing public policies for crime prevention and community safety initiatives.


Why are Gender-Based National and Municipal Policies for Safe Cities Important?

Gender-based policies in crime prevention and community safety are important because they consider how women and men are affected differently by real and perceived threats of violence and crime.

Since women perceive the threat of personal harm due to violence or crime differently than men, the effects of crime, violence and insecurity are experienced differently by women than they are by men.

A gender-based approach to crime prevention and community safety aims to eliminate negative gender stereotypes, relations, and inequalities which cause crime and insecurity at the local level.

Traditionally, crime prevention approaches have focused on strengthening the police and justice systems as ways of reducing crime (Whitzman, 2008b). More recently however, crime prevention efforts have taken a more social approach through the reduction of economic and social isolation, and through community mobilization focused on violence prevention. (Bodson et al., 2008). This approach is more in line with that of safer cities and communities. Municipal gender-based policies in crime prevention and community safety are approached in an open and participatory manner. These strategies should focus on empowering women to take active roles in increasing safety (Shaw and Capobianco, 2004).

Municipal crime prevention and community safety programmes aim to reduce the causes of crime and insecurity at the local level.

In general, community safety or safe cities programmes focus on reducing or eliminating factors that contribute to social and economic exclusion as a way of targeting the root causes of crime and insecurity. At the same time, these approaches engage communities to work with them to identify additional programming and policy issues which contribute to crime and insecurity across a variety of different sectors such as government, law enforcement, health care, environmental design, and others. (UN-HABITAT Safer Cities Programme, no date; Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, 1999).

See the section on gender-based national and municipal law and policies in programme implementation.