Women’s Safety Audit – Public Spaces
Conduct women’s safety audits (WSAs) in public spaces.
Organization: Women in Cities International, JAGORI
About the Wise Practice
Women’s Safety Audits (WSAs) are crucial to assessing the safety and accessibility of a city and its public spaces for women and people of other equity-seeking genders. A safety audit consists of a group of women walking in public spaces of their neighbourhood (a street, a public square, a park, etc.) to identify the physical and social characteristics that make these places safe or unsafe. The safety walks are conducted before and after dark to see how public spaces are transformed at night. Essentially participatory in character, the audits identify the spaces that are unsafe for the vulnerable groups, as well as the factors causing the lack of safety or the exclusion of these groups. The identification of problems allows us to make very specific proposals to the decision-makers to improve the safety of our streets and that of the public spaces in the neighborhood.
Goal 1: Prevent and eliminate all forms of violence and harassment against women and girls in private and public spaces, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation (NUA 13c, 39; SDG 5.2; CEDAW article 6).
Quantitative and qualitative data resulting from the safety audit tools are used to measure the progress of the audits. Jagori’s handbook contains steps and a sample checklist of factors to consider, including characteristics of the physical environment, social organizations, and usage of spaces.
In 2013, a phone-based application called Safetipin was launched in Delhi. The app is used to quantify data points related to safety perceptions and experiences and provides a Safety Score for a place or area. In the app, each audit appears as a pin, and each point gets uploaded immediately and is then available for anyone to see. The red pins signify unsafe points, orange a bit safer and green pins would indicate relatively safe points. Until 2022, this app has performed 339,378 audits in 65 cities in 16 countries worldwide.
Panel discussions, research and publication of findings, as well as policy and practice changes are outcomes of the audit.
In Delhi, data collected through WSAs were used by government authorities to address gaps in city infrastructure and services. For example, 40,000 dark spots were identified on 421 stretches of roads. East Delhi and North Delhi Municipal Corporations undertook the responsibility to fix the street lights with government budget allocations.
Inventory of groups using women’s safety audits and review of what worked.
Audits conducted in various parts of Delhi revealed that insecurity and fear define women’s experiences as they negotiate public spaces during the day and night. The audits pointed to the main factors affecting women’s safety included infrastructure, usage of space and the nature of social institutions and policing.
Resources and More Information
- UN Habitat Report (2007): Women’s Safety Audit What Works and Where
- Jagori (2010): Understanding Women’s Safety: Towards a Gender Inclusive City
- Jagori (2010): A Handbook on Women’s Safety Audits in Low-income Urban Neighbourhoods
- UN Women (2019): Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces for Women and Girls Global Flagship Initiative: International compendium of practices
Updated: December 14, 2020