06.03.2020

Women on the move: female perspectives enhance safety in public spaces

An initiative is providing new impetus in the transport sector to make travel better and safer for women in particular. In Bogotá, new ideas are already improving safety in public spaces.

Sustainable mobility is seen as the key to the cities of the future. And it entails much more than switching to climate-friendly means of transport. In this male-dominated sector, women often get a raw deal. Compared with men, they spend more time on the move in public spaces, walking and using public transport more often than men. That means that they are also more exposed to assaults and violence. Safety on public transport is therefore a key issue for women.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is committed to helping women assume a greater role in shaping modern transport systems. On behalf of the German Development Ministry (BMZ), GIZ is working to promote modern mobility in cities. As part of the International Transport Forum Summit, GIZ and BMZ organised the world’s first international conference to specifically address the role of women in the transport sector. Entitled Women Mobilize Women, the conference was attended by more than 200 experts from over 40 countries, who discussed new solutions for safety in public spaces and gender-sensitive transport planning. The conference was just the start, however. Within the space of a year, Women Mobilize Women evolved into an international network and the first port of call for information and innovative approaches. The Women Mobilize Women initiative was also chosen from 120 entries as one of the winners of the GIZ Gender Competition 2020 for its particular role in promoting gender equality.

A pilot project in Bogotá designed to enable women in particular to move around the city more safely is a good example of what gender-sensitive transport planning can look like in practice. Bogotá was the first city ever to analyse its entire network of roads and cycle lanes using an app to measure how safe women are on the basis of eight criteria. In addition, more than 14,000 women were interviewed about how safe they feel on public transport. The data was summarised as an index that tells people about the level of safety in the various districts and even on individual streets. The index provides a new source of information that will enable the city administration to prioritise measures such as improving street lighting to gradually make Bogotá a safe and attractive place for women to live in.

The findings from the index have already been put to use: five places with a particularly bad rating have been identified and redesigned in a participatory process involving the local population. Within a short space of time and with a great deal of paint and dedication, these neglected public spaces have been transformed into bright locations where people can meet and spend time together and where women and children can feel safe again.

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