Safe Cities
General Guidance
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Public Awarness

Last edited: October 30, 2010

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What is public awareness?

Public awareness is the public’s level of understanding about the importance and implications of women’s and girls’ safety in cities and communities. Raising public awareness is not the same as telling the public what to do – it is explaining issues and disseminating knowledge to people so that they can make their own decisions. High public awareness occurs when a significant proportion of society agrees that the safety of women and girls in the city is an issue that is of great importance to all citizens. Low public awareness occurs when a majority of people do not know or do not care about women’s and girls’ safety in the city. There are two main areas to focus on when raising awareness about safe cities for women. First, there is general public awareness, which involves widespread understanding and acknowledgement of the issues on a societal level. Second, there is self-awareness, which occurs when individuals understand how the concept of safe cities for women affects them personally.

There are different ways to raise public awareness about safe cities for women. It can be done through specific planned events, poster campaigns, websites, documentaries, newspaper articles, in schools and workplaces – any publicly available medium. Different examples of strategies for raising awareness are presented throughout this section. Ideally, programme partners would combine a few strategies together, each tailored to the priority and specific groups of the population.

Methodologically sound approaches to raising awareness, together with sufficient exposure have been shown, through social science research, to have an effect on knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.  It is usually more effective to create a coordinated, long-term awareness-raising campaign than to create large, short-term campaign. This is because when the concept of safe cities for women is talked about over time, its importance becomes normalized – it becomes a normal part of people’s everyday lives. By contrast, if there is only one single campaign to address the issue of safe cities for women, people may forget about the issues once the campaign is over. By taking different approaches at different times, awareness can be raised all over the city, using current events and issues as a backdrop for talking about safe cities.


Why is public awareness important?

Public awareness is important because safe cities for women are created when people in cities work together to eliminate violence against women and girls. In order to work together, the public needs to have a common understanding of what violence against women and girls is, and how it relates to women’s and girls’ safety in their communities. The public also has to believe and share values that women’s safety is an important issue in the community.

See the public awareness section for more information.