Essential Services

Essential services include clean and walkable pavements, well lit streets, parks, subways and other open spaces and better situated and maintained public toilets. Public infrastructure and services such as pavements, street lights, parks and other open spaces have been repeatedly cited as factors which make Delhi unsafe for women. Inappropriate positioning, dirty and unlit public toilets are seen as a risk factor for women.

Jagori’s work on water and sanitation specifically in two resettlement colonies of Delhi, Bawana and Bhalaswa has combined the issue of basic services and women’s safety in an effective manner. This action research aims to develop perspectives and competencies of women in the selected communities to explore gender sensitive management and governance of their local services and resources, with a focus on the safety of women and girls. It was found that women and girls are primarily responsible for managing households and they spend hours in queues to fill water or bring water from one area to another. The process of safety walk helped break the silence for men and those women that had not participated in community prevention and redressal programs undertaken by Jagori.

Due to inadequate infrastructure in the toilets, women either face sexual harassment or feel loss of dignity. Since planning of new settlements and building of infrastructure without a gender sensitive angle, it only perpetuates violation of women’s rights. Through Jagori’s initiative in these two settlements, the capacities of a core group of women and youth were built on the issues of local governance and their rights.

Women safety guidelines were provided to MCD, PWD, and other agencies involved in providing and managing public infrastructure, services, and amenities. Safety audits were conducted in other parts of the city. Sensitization and awareness building initiated by Jagori among local security guards, park attendants, car parking contractors on women safety issues. Detailed checklist on women safety was provided to all service personnel. Women involvement and support to RWAs (Residents’ Welfare Association) and MTAs (Markets Traders’ Association) will help curbing the issue.

Night shelters are an important public service provided by the state for the homeless. Safety of homeless women is a huge issue both within and outside the night shelters. Standards to improve night shelters from a safety standpoint were suggested by Jagori.

For more info:

A Handbook on Women's Safety Audits in Low-income Urban Neighbourhoods: A Focus on Essential Services