Learning from women to create gender inclusive cities

The goal of the programme Gender Inclusive Cities: Increasing Women’s Safety by Identifying and Disseminating Effective and Promising Approaches that Promote Women’s Equal Access to Public Spaces (GICP) is to enhance women’s inclusion and “right to the city”. In order to achieve this goal, the programme focuses on three aims:

  • To identify and map the 'geography' of public gender exclusion and its interaction with other marginalised identities such as race, religion, and economic status
  • To identify the activities, tools and public policies that act as enablers of or barriers to greater gender inclusion and equality
  • To identify and pilot good practices related to gender inclusion.

There are many factors that contribute to gender exclusion or inclusion in cities and it is not possible for the GICP to address all of these factors. Therefore, programme research and action has focused mainly on women’s safety and women’s experiences of gender-based violence (GBV) as key factors that contributes to levels gender exclusion or inclusion. In particular, women’s experiences of sexual harassment and sexual assault in public spaces have been central to GICP work.

The GICP is a three-year initiative (2009 – 2011) that is funded by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund). It is being coordinated by Women in Cities International (WICI) and is being implemented by four partner organisations working on the ground in different cities: the Information Centre of the Independent Women’s Forum (ICIWF) in Petrozavodsk, Russia; the International Centre for Network and Information on Crime – Tanzania (ICNIC-T) in Dar es Salaam; Jagori in Delhi, India and Exchange and Services Centre, Southern Cone, Argentina - Coordinator of the Latin America Women and Habitat Network (CISCSA) in Rosario, Argentina. In all four cities, NGOs and women’s groups have already carried out some work on inclusion, safety and prevention of gendered violence.

Activities within the GICP have been designed in three stages, each of which incorporates monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

In the first stage, implementing partners in each city have devised and used a set of tools and methodologies to collect data on the state of women’s safety in their cities, including street surveys, policy reviews, women’s safety audits, and focus group discussions. The result of these activities is a mapping of women’s safety in Dar es Salaam, Delhi, Petrozavodsk and Rosario.

The next stage of the programme focuses on the development of intervention plans to improve women’s safety in each of the four cities, using the locally collected data. These organisations have also been engaging with different sets of stakeholders including local government representatives, community-based organisations, citizen groups, and the broader community. The importance of engaging with local government, police and other municipal bodies has been a central theme of the programme, so as to incorporate relevance, ownership, sustainability and the involvement of a wide set of stakeholders.

In the third stage of the programme, intervention plans will be implemented, resulting in evidence-based, locally-specific actions for the creation of safer environments for women and girls in each of the four cities. At all stages of the programme, the empowerment of local women and the use of local women’s knowledge as a basis for evidence on the state of community safety has been a priority. At the same time, efforts have been included to capture knowledge gained and to distribute the knowledge from this unique cross-cultural process to a wider international audience.


The purpose of this report is to share the data collected in the first year of GICP on the state of women’s safety in each participating city. The information presented here gives the reader an overview of what kinds of safety issues affect women in their daily lives and how these issues lead to the exclusion of women from city life.

These findings will contribute to the global knowledge base on gender exclusion in cities in two ways. First, GICP findings extend our understanding of how data can be collected and analyzed to draw conclusions about women’s safety and levels of inclusion or exclusion in a given community. Second, GICP findings add greatly to our substantive knowledge of women’s lack of safety and exclusion in public spaces, which is still relatively limited everywhere in the world.