Women's Safety: Interventions & Impacts

UN Women Global Programme on
Safe Cities Free of Violence against Women and Girls and
Feminist Leadership for Social Change

This series captures the learnings, challenges and the developments on the issue of women's safety in the city supported by UN Women and partnered by Jagori. Violence greatly impacts the lives of women and girls. It compromises their freedom of movement and reduces their ability to access essential services and livelihood opportunities, adversely impacting their health and well-being. The articles focus on this critical issue looking at the different interventions being carried out in the city and their impact. The features also highlight collective actions and voices as part of the One Billion Rising campaign to end violence against women.



Domestic Workers Discover There's Strength in Numbers

By Anuradha Shukla

Deprivation has been an integral part of Savita's life from the very beginning. Whereas most children could eat what they wanted, buy the clothes they liked and go to school, these were ‘luxuries’ that her family of five simply could not afford. Her parents had shifted base from a small hamlet in Cooch Behar district of West Bengal to Jaipur in Rajasthan, in search of employment and the only way for the little one to ensure she got two square meals a day was by contributing to the family earnings. Savita was only 13 when she first started doing domestic work along with her mother. There were times when she was on the job for nearly 10 hours a day but she did it without complaining in the hope that, sooner or later, things would get better. That has not happened till date. Mistreatment at the hands of employers continues to be a part of her work environment and her standard of living has not improved much. The only difference now is that she has the confidence to stand up for her rights as an individual and a worker because she is part of a union, where 12,000 other female unorganised workers support each other’s bid to establish their own identity.

* “I understood that my employer cannot hit me. So the next time she tried to raise her hand, I told her I would go to the police. She was appalled and I eventually lost that job but I am happy that I spoke up for myself.”

WFS REF NO: INDoc01J                            1,290 words

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Let's Talk About It: How India Is Breaking The Silence On Gender Violence

By Gunjeet Sra

Sarang Gupta, 18, was spending his summer vacations doing the regular Class 12 grind - tuitions, home, TV - when he chanced upon a newspaper clip that changed his life. As he read the detailed report on the violent death of a young woman, he felt he "had to do something". So, with the help of eight friends and 60 volunteers the youngster organised Shakti, a run for women's empowerment in his locality and managed to pull a crowd of 300 to participate in the event. Although his parents would have much rather preferred that he prepare for engineering entrances, he wanted to "make a difference in society". In fact, today, Gupta has initiated a group, Students for Change, to influence his contemporaries to take a stand for women and their rights. Like this young champion, there is Manak Matiyani of ComMutiny-The Youth Collective, Arvind Gaur of ASMITA theatre group, Jessie Hodges of Kid Powered Media, among several other activists and social groups that are using innovative ideas, including theatre, poster campaigns, sports and short films, to initiate greater community engagement to deal with the menace of gender violence. After all, "change is indeed possible, once we stand for it together".

* Madhu Bala of Jagori, a Delhi-based women's resource centre, believes, "People's involvement is imperative because it exemplifies that one can move forward and combat such issues with collective effort."

WFS Ref: INDO414J                            1280 words

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A Tech SafetiPin That Enables Women To Secure Their Lives

By Taru Bahl

It took the gruesome gang rape and murder of a promising young girl for India to sit up and begin an earnest debate on women's safety. From changing policies to bringing in more punitive laws to creating safety cells within organisations, a plethora of interventions have been floated - with varying degrees of success. However, the one safety net that has really caught on with millions of tech savvy urbanites is the free, innovative, and now even intuitive, personal safety mobile application. While most regular apps, like VithU, Circle of 6, Scream Alarm! or Nirbhaya: Be Fearless, are designed for emergency situations, providing options for transmitting instant distress "help me" signals and location details via SMS or Facebook, there are also those like Safetipin, which comes with features like GPS tracking, directions to safe locations and pins showing safe and unsafe areas on the map, to guide women to stay safe in their daily lives. Of course, even as most female users acknowledge that they feel confident knowing they have a security backup at the tap of their smart screen, they strongly believe that "at the end of the day, it is a woman's instinct and her own sense of well-being that can keep her from harm's way".

* According to Kalpana Vishwanath, co-founder of Safetipin, "The app is an evolving platform, one that will take further shape as more women download it, use it and add to its interactive value."

WFS Ref: INDO216J                            1200 words

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Three Years and Counting… Striking, Rising, Dancing Against Violence And Patriarchy

By Chetna Verma

"We lie to ourselves that 'it is my choice'. Most of the things done by women are to please the society. We are the target of capitalist patriarchy, pornography, trafficking and cosmetic industry. They want us to surrender but we must rise against it."… On the streets where eve teasers roam free and from where rapists can pick up any woman they want to violate and brutalise in the worst possible ways, in offices where women are vulnerable to sexual harassment, inside homes from where the vicious cycle of gender discrimination begins, and in each and every space where patriarchy rears its ugly head, thousands of girls and women have answered the call of the One Billion Rising (OBR) movement - to break the chains of confinement, dance to the tunes of freedom and speak up loud and clear against gender violence. As far as movements go, OBR, which has completed three years, "celebrates and liberates" women everywhere, encouraging them to "stop seeing themselves as victims" and "take back control of their lives". Rural and urban, illiterate and learned, able and disabled, women, men and alternate genders, everyone under the inclusive OBR umbrella has found a voice and heart to demand a society that sees women as individuals in their own right and not as puppets who merely fulfil their gendered roles.

* "How do we liberate ourselves from the stranglehold of patriarchy? We dance, we sing, we take to the streets."

WFS Ref: INDO213J                            1200 words

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