Our cities are unsafe for women, but what could authorities do to make them more inclusive, and liveable? Putting the spotlight on this was Safecity with Urban Thinkers with a panel on Urban Planning and Women: How can cities be better designed for inclusion? “When it come to living in the city we have to negotiate, If we ask if cities are planned for women, answer is no because women is a part of the setup of population,” asked urban designer Harshad Bhatia. He added, “Gender is more of a physiological preference, which needs a physical space & respect which is missed out at the planning stage.”
Anchor and Editor Faye D Souza, insisted on our flawed sense of protection for women. “We have this whole concept of protection and safety, we have politicians say women should be protected. I disagree, I don’t believe women should be protected & women should be offered equal safety. As a woman I pay equal taxes & not less because I am a woman. I should be able to walk out on street anytime without any reason freely.”
How can cities be better designed for women?
Shalaka Joshi, Gender Lead at IFC, said it was time we think about people who care about city & how to navigate it. “How does ride sharing open up economic participation for women. Does it? We surveyed bout 11K ppl across 7 countries. It highlights in the future there will be 10 million rides as day by 2030. What does it mean for that infrastructure? What does it mean to the opportunities it opens up for women who are in the workforce & women drivers who are not in the workforce not?”
Moderator of the discussion at the event, Meghna Pant asked if tech indeed was going to offer solutions. “We are using apps using everywhere. How can we use apps as an enabler for designing better cities for women.”
Advocate Nappinai NS said, “I have actually worked on one another app for a civil society organization, Its called is No app the whole concept was to utilise volunteers who may be available in a place where an incident might occur.” She explains further that the idea was that people would not have to call family members to a place where an incident might occur. “Therefore the volunteers may be a better alternative. The first issue I had was . What would happen if the volunteers join the culprit. What it they were involved in eve teasing a girl. It could. It was the issue we has to take into account. The app is also linked to the police when you press a button police would also be invoice.” She gave the example of how an app may have solutions for urban planning.
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Apps may be a great way but it does not substitute what govt can do through its infrastructure? Moderator Meghna Pant raised the issue of accommodation challenges for women. “Lets take a look at the infrastructure deficit in our city right now as simple as accommodation For single women are not giving out a place for rent. Renting a flat is difficult for women. 25 % of our labour force is women 15% of working women are in the urban space & yet in Mumbai we are not getting access to these things. If you basis needs are not give how are u going to self actualise?”
Apps may be a great way but it does not substitute what govt can do through its infrastructure? Urban planning for women is a must?
Harshad Bhatia added, “When we talk of housing its planning no individual comes in mind. A house is always looked as a container for a family, you will not come across a house designed for a single person.”
The panel also talked about the need for the dialogue for inclusive infrastructure being extended to have men. “Why we would we say men are not stakeholders,” asked Nappinai. “They are as much stake holders as the women are because Everything that impacts the women impacts the family the society . That is the reason why offences against women are considered offence against society. First step will be to make them realise that are a the stakeholders as well.”
Why we would we say men are not stakeholders – Nappinai
Cities in India are marked for their crime rates and have caused a fear factor. Delhi as the rape capital of the world for example. Unless we collectively talk about the need for better public spaces and a dialogue that is all inclusive, we are unlikely to make these cities more liveable. Shalaka Joshi added, “There is a personal narrative around empowerment & how you inhabit the public spaces around you. You realise you have a right to the public spaces in your city Its not protected by class or private etc.”