Safe Cities
General Guidance
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Identify potential partners

Last edited: October 30, 2010

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  • Municipal governments are a necessary partner in safe cities for women programming because they are able to shape public services and policy decisions and because they usually control many resources. In addition, in democratic nations, municipal governments are generally an accessible source of power for citizens.
  • Police, health, and social service workers are excellent potential partners since their everyday work gives them a good perspective on the violence women experience in the city. They also have a critical role to play by offering protection and support services, and by developing violence prevention initiatives.
  • Urban planners should also be involved in partnerships, so that they can offer insights and influence around how the structure and design of the city can impact gendered relations and citizen security.
  • Journalists and other members of the media are also excellent partners because they can potentially influence the public in ways that governments cannot. This is because the media reaches many different groups of people, is easily accessible almost everywhere, and portrays events in a way that can shape public opinion.
  • Community organizations and women’s organizations also offer invaluable experience and contacts around action on local women’s issues.
  • Local women and girls are also necessary to include in partnerships because it is their safety that is the priority. Thus, their ideas and experiences are the starting point from which safe cities for women action can take place. Local women and girl partners should represent the different populations of women in the community. For example, there should be elderly women, women with disabilities, women from different ethnic communities, immigrant women, women with different socio-economic statuses and/or lesbian or transsexual women involved.
  • Other possible partners could include representatives from indigenous groups, youth groups, men’s groups, faith communities, school districts, food banks, and business organizations (Cowichan Violence Against Women Society, 2002, 4 – 42).

Australian Examples of Possible Partners  
[in addition to women and women’s organizations]

Politicians: local councilors and State/Commonwealth local representatives;

Education: individual schools, tertiary education, local representatives of ministries of education, adult education and vocational services;

Social Services and Agencies: childcare centres and other services for children like kindergartens and afterhours school care, family services, women’s services, men’s services, youth services, welfare and emergency income support, services for people with disabilities, services for low income communities, services for Aboriginals, services for new migrants, services for LGBTI community, emergency and non-profit housing providers, advocacy groups, services for drug users, sex workers and alcoholics, local representatives of ministries of human services or community development;

Sports and recreation organizations: recreation centres, professional and amateur sporting clubs;

Neighbourhood Groups: neighbourhood centres, local residents groups, service organizations such as Rotary, Zonta, Scouts and Guides;

Religious Organizations: religious leaders, particular houses of worship, religious charities such as the Salvation Army;

Health: hospitals, health centres and clinics, health advocacy organizations, primary care partnerships, maternal and child health nurses, local representatives of State public health ministries;

Policing: police-community relations officers or domestic violence liaison officers;

Justice: neighbourhood justice or conflict resolution centres (if they exist), local family violence court workers, legal aid clinics, representatives of State ministries of justice;

Public Information and Communications: libraries, community information centres, local newspapers and radio stations, including ethnospecific media;

Planning and Public Space Management: social and health service planners, land use and transport planners, economic planners, including those working in business development, urban designers, parks designers and managers, public works officers, and health and building inspectors;

Researchers: universities or research centres, local government research officers;

Private Sector: individual business leaders or businesses, local business associations;

Trade Unions and Professional Associations;

Private Charities and Individual Donors.

Source: The GLOVE Project. 2009. Fact Sheet #1: Creating Effective Partnerships to Prevent Violence. University of Melbourne and VicHealth. Available in English

  • Work with networks. Networks are groups of actors (governments, non-profit organizations, community groups, etc.) that focus on related issues. These actors stay in contact to let each other know about their work and ideas. Networks are useful for making important contacts, finding out about publications and events, and obtaining resources. Networks can exist at local, national, and international levels. They often have web sites or Internet discussion groups. Already established networks of actors who work on gender-based issues can offer quick access to audiences all over the region, country or even the world.  In order to establish contact with networks, safe cities for women programme partners should mention their project to network coordinators and ask if they can tell others in the network about it.

A few examples of networks that can be contacted by a safe cities for women programme are:

Women in Cities International (website available in English, French and Spanish);

Red Mujer y Hábitat de América Latina (website available in Spanish);

Rwanda Women’s Network (website available in English and French);

Huairou Commission (website available in English, French and Spanish);

Habitat International Coalition Women and Shelter Network (website available in English); and

GROOTS International (website available in English and Spanish).

  • Provide examples of your work and contact information. It is easier for networks to share your work if you provide them with text, pictures, or web links that they can share with others. Many networks have web sites where you can provide a description of your programme with contact information. This will be posted publicly for others to see use. If your initiative does not have a web site, give a contact name and email address.

  • Join and/or create an online discussion group to meet others working on the issue of women’s and girls’ safety. Wherever there is an online discussion forum about safety issues, women’s issues, or community issues, make a post about a local safe cities for women programme or about recent activities related to safe cities for women. Alternatively, safe cities for women programmes could research and initiate their own discussion group in order to provide the public and programme partners with an easy way to discuss and learn about key issues.

 Case Study: Yahoo! Discussion Group, urban_women: Women and Urban Issues.

The organization Women in Cities International (WICI) posts information about its activities on this discussion group website, moderated by the Toronto Women’s City Alliance. There are 72 members who belong to this group and each member receives an email about each post. That means that 72 people representing different organizations in different parts of the world are receiving information on WICI’s activities. At the same time, WICI receives posts by other members of the discussion group about their activities relating to women and urban issues. Through this kind of medium, different actors can find potential partners who work on similar projects and have similar understandings of women’s safety.  Website available in English.

  • Hold or attend a networking event. A networking event can occur in person or online. The idea is to bring together representatives from many organizations and initiatives on women’s and girls’ safety in one place. At the event, representatives can meet with each other, share information about their work and objectives, meet potential partners, and learn about new strategies, ideas, events and funding.

Case Study: Sharing Our Knowledge for Action: An Online Exchange Forum on Gender Equality in Cities

Women in Cities International.  This document is a summary of an online networking event held by Women in Cities International (WICI) in May and June 2006. The event was held in concert with the Third World Urban Forum, which took place in June of the same year. The purpose of the online exchange was to document input from representatives of international women's groups who wished to contribute to the World Urban Forum, but were unable to attend. This publication documents how the online exchange was put together, the challenges of creating an online exchange, and the results of the exchange.

In order to create this event, WICI enlisted the help of professional technicians to develop the interface, using free TikiWiki technology. WICI also enlisted the help of partner organizations for discussion translation. Over four weeks, four different themes were topics of discussion. These were: Develop a Model: Partnerships for Equality in Large Cities; Sustainable Community: Government Partnerships on Gendered Violence; Gender Mainstreaming and Local Governance; and Knowledge Networks for Women’s Health and Safety. Members of WICI’s board of directors took turns moderating the discussions each week. In all, the online exchange forum generated 2 765 visits from 195 people in 22 countries. Each discussion topic received between 91 and 1 280 consultations. The main challenge faced in this project was having the capacity to deal with complicated technical issues on a time sensitive basis (Michaud, 2007).  Available in English, French and Spanish.


Building Partnerships to End Violence against Women: A Practical Guide for Rural and Isolated Communities (Community Coordination for Women's Safety Project, 2005). British Columbia Association of Specialized Victim Assistance and Counselling Programs, Canada. This is a guide for organizations to build partnerships with other community actors in order to prevent violence against women. The benefits of partnerships, as opposed to fragmented approaches, are examined, as are topics such as relationship-building, clarifying commitments, information sharing, diversity and more. Tools, challenges faced, and case studies are provided.  Available in English.

‘Finding Resources’ in Leading Community Change: A Workshop Guide to Build Women’s Volunteer Leadership Skills (Women’s Voices in Leadership Project, 2006). Status of Women Council of the Northwest Territories: pages 73-74. This handout gives a list of questions for leaders to ask when organizing a new community initiative. It also provides a list of potential partners of programmes working in a Canadian context.  Available in English.

Peer Exchanges: A How-To Handbook for Grassroots Women's Groups (Jeanetta, S., 2007). Huairou Commission. This handbook is a guide on organizing and implementing a networking event for grassroots women's groups. It gives detailed background information on the concept of peer exchanges, as well as instructions on preparing for, hosting, travelling to, and evaluating a peer exchange. Women's organizations working in a Safe Cities for Women Programme can use this tool to meet, learn from, and partner with other women's organizations doing similar work. Available in English.