Women's Safety Audit

 

A Women's Safety Audit (WSA) is a participatory tool that is used for collecting and assessing information about perceptions of safety in public spaces. It is a process that brings people together to walk through a physical environment, evaluate how safe it feels, and identify ways to make it safer. This methodology, based on the premise that the users of a space are experts in understanding the space, was developed in Toronto, Canada (1989), by METRAC and has been adapted and used in over 40 cities around the world,

 What does a safety audit involve?

A safety audit consists of a group of women walking in public spaces of their neighborhood (a street, a public square, a park, etc.) to identify the physical and social characteristics that make these places safe or unsafe. To conduct such audits it is important to choose routes that are taken by women every day to drop their children to school or the health centre, or a street or an avenue where people come to catch public transport to go to work.

This working method allows us to look at our neighborhood in a way that is different from our everyday perspective. It allows us to become acquainted (or reacquainted) with the places we live and move around in everyday, but from a different position and perspective.

The identification of the 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. It is advisable to conduct safety audits close to dusk, allowing you to begin the journey during the daylight; wait for dusk; and  then return along the same route in order to see how the neighborhood, streets and public spaces change at night. It is also important that the following people be invited to take part in the safety audits:– a public official, so he/she may explore the neighborhood and understand its needs through the eyes of the community.– a community leader, so he/she may sense the insecurity experienced by women, and support actions to prevent violence against them.

Women’s Safety Audits are crucial to assessing the safety and accessibility of a city and its public spaces for women and other vulnerable groups. 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 factors that need to be considered while conducting the safety walks:

  • Physical characteristics: Lighting, signage, visibility, isolation, escape routes, maintenance
  •  Social organizations & Policing: Assess ongoing community processes and actions to see whether they play a role in making women feel safer
  • Usage of spaces: Who are the users of the area; are there vendors, shops. Are there people of all ages and gender?

Jagori has conducted over 40 safety audits in Delhi with many partner organisations. To know more write to safedelhi@jagori.org

To undertake a safety audit trainingor to take part in one, write to safedelhi@jagori.org

To read more click women safety audit