By talking about the concept of safe cities for women and girls on the street and in places where people gather, you can make the issue seem commonplace and accessible. Try starting a conversation with something like “Do you think this space is safe at night? I feel as though…” or “that woman looks like she is having a hard time with all of those groceries. I wonder if she has a safe and easy walk home…”. A Raising Voices guide recommends the following tips for holding impromptu discussions:
Hold discussions in pairs so each facilitator has back-up;
Get permission from community leaders or decision-makers first;
Keep discussions short and direct;
Encourage people to talk about the discussion afterwards with other people they know.
Tips for impromptu discussions are located as follows:
Michau, L. And D. Naker. 2003. Mobilizing Communities to Prevent Domestic Violence. Raising Voices. Kampala, Uganda: Phase 2, page 108.
ACTIVITY: “Health Centre Outreach” Activity. Although focused on domestic violence, this activity can also be used to raise awareness about safe cities and communities for women and girls. In this activity, a mixed local audience waiting for health services is targeted for awareness-raising through short, interactive presentations.
Source: Michau, L. And D. Naker. 2003. Mobilizing Communities to Prevent Domestic Violence. Raising Voices. Kampala, Uganda: Phase 2, page 104. Available in English.
Create Community Watch Groups
In many communities, police protection is weak or non-existent for women. Physical infrastructure that can improve women’s safety, such as street lighting and well-planned streets, may also be lacking. While it is ideal to acquire community assets such as a protective and adequate police force, this goal may not be immediately attainable. As an immediate and practical measure, safe cities for women actors can consider starting a community watch group initiative. This kind of initiative engages members of the community to volunteer their time to form patrol groups in public spaces (usually at night). The presence of community watch groups can increase women’s safety and deter crime when members are properly trained about women’s safety and women’s equality. Members must also be trained to ensure that they are able to deal with situations of violence. It is also advisable to provide members of community watch groups with equipment such as flashlights and whistles. In Guatemala, the Women Workers’ Committee has created such an initiative. They have also provided women with flashlights and whistles to use when they travel in public at night. To read more about the Women Workers’ Committee initiative, see the MADRE web site. Available in English and Spanish.
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