Safe Cities
General Guidance
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General Guidance

Last edited: October 30, 2010

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Once problems have been diagnosed, partnerships have been secured, and an action plan has been developed, it is time to work on the ground. This means taking all of the values and ideas that safe cities for women programme partners have been working on and instituting them in the community. No matter what issue programme partners decide to tackle (transportation safety and accessibility, better lighting, service coordination, sexual harassment related to all of these, etc.), they should remember that a safe city for women and girls involves many different approaches. No one approach is right, and different approaches can be combined as the programme moves along. What is important is that actions focus on achieving the goals that programme partners have set (Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, 2002, page 67).


Make sure that everyone is contributing to programme actions.

Because every safe cities for women programme is different, there will be different roles and different actors involved in each community. At this time, someone or some organization should be in charge of ensuring that each partner is doing their part and meeting any deadlines that have been set (Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, 2002, 69). This person or organization can check in with partners on the phone, by email, or at meetings. Another way to keep track of action is to set due dates for reports. These reports can summarize activities that have occurred and the successes or challenges have accompanied them (WICI, 2007, 23).


Develop capacity among programme partners.

When implementing any main strategy for safe cities for women, partners will learn a lot about whether or not their planned actions will actually work within the community - municipal governments will learn more about what is politically viable, women’s organizations will learn how to communicate with other agencies about gender issues, local residents will learn about how they can most effectively make the programme work. There will necessarily be times when the skills and learning abilities of partners do not match with the required activities and programme needs. Identifying capacity development needs at the outset of the programme, and providing opportunities for capacity development throughout the programme will give everyone a chance to work better, together (WICI, 2007, 25). For more information on developing capacity among partners, see the getting started section and the capacity development section. 

Review the conceptual framework.

The conceptual framework that safe cities for women programme partners create is only meaningful if all partners attempt to follow its results framework, workplan and timeline, etc. At meetings with partners, it is important to review the conceptual framework and workplan in order to determine if the programme is on track. If partners find it impossible to keep up with goals and objectives that they set, the expected results and workplan may be too ambitious. It is okay to adjust the timeline if partners cannot meet all of their deadlines. For example, if, after three months, an objective statement declares that all safe cities for women partnerships should be established and, in reality, programme partners are having difficulty establishing contacts with local women’s organizations and the police, it might be necessary to extend the objective deadline. This would be preferable to missing out on valuable partnerships with local women activists and the police force.

Remain focused on goals and objectives.

Safe cities for women action occurs over a long period of time – awareness campaigns can extend over years, research might need to be developed over months, and governments and project partners can change from time to time. Throughout the process, initial ideas about the best way to address community needs may be proven wrong. New ideas will surface that seem more appropriate. New actors will bring fresh perspectives. During this time safe cities for women programme partners should remember their initial goals and objectives. When the programme changes, these guidelines should be kept in mind. Alternatively, goals and objectives might need to be adjusted if they prove problematic in practice (Whitzman, 2008b, page 191).


Keep up group morale.

Safe cities for women programmes can seem to be the most exciting and inspiring in their initial stages because everyone is discussing their values and ideals. When it comes to implementing action, work can seem challenging. During this process, it is advisable to regularly check in with partners and celebrate small successes (WICI, 2007, page 25). Moreover, rather than being discouraged by issues that arise, such as budget cuts, programme partners should focus their concentration on adjusting the programme to face realities and challenges (Whitzman, 2008b, page 191).

Plan for setbacks.

Setbacks in any large initiative are common. Because participation in a safe cities for women programme entails a large commitment from partners and communities, there will be many instances where goals and objectives are threatened by time and/or financial constraints. There may be instances of ideological setbacks that need to be resolved, or there might need to be additional time scheduled to complete some actions. This is normal and should be considered part of a process which helps everyone involved understand what a safe community is and why it is important (Cowichan Violence Against Women Society, pages 5-71).


Incorporate monitoring and evaluation.

Although monitoring and evaluation will be dealt with in detail in the monitoring and evaluation section, it should be noted here that any safe cities for women initiative should be monitored regularly throughout implementation, to assess progress and bottlenecks, and document achievements and lessons learned. This includes timely documentation assessing key programme activities, such as sensitization or training sessions. . For instance, if programme partners hold an awareness week about planning for women’s safety at the local mall, the actors responsible for the event should record their impressions and understandings of what happened as soon as possible after that week – did people understand key concepts? What display did people tend to gravitate towards? Were there questions about safe cities for women that programme partners could not answer? Providing short-term goals for each step of each component or activity will give participants a sense of whether or not their action was successful (perhaps, in the case of the example above, one goal could be distributing a certain number of leaflets to the public) (Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, 2002, page 70).


Embrace compromise.

Any safe cities for women programme will involve conflict among partners with differences of opinion. This should not stop programme partners from taking action. Instead, partners should aim to include all viewpoints, and to accept that trade-offs and compromises are always going to be part of making communities safer for women and girls. Moreover, programme partners should note that many conflicts and tensions result in a learning process that makes the entire programme and its relationships stronger and richer.