Safe Cities for Women Safe cities for all
Safe Cities for Women Safe cities for all
Solution proposed by:
Women and Habitat Network of Latinamerica, CISCSA Argentina. Ana Falú promotor of the safe cities program in the region.
In a Nutshell:
Fragmented cities have become more complex with the emergence of the increase of violence, use of time, and means of mobility. Urban violence affects women’s lives in the city in a different way. Poverty, inequality, ongoing gender-based division of labor, domestic and public violence are all critical and important hurdles affecting women from exercising their citizen rights.
Where and When:
It was implemented in about 10 countries of LAC: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, among others. On going program in several countries. The regional program was implemented from 2006 to 2012.
The recognition of urban violence against women just because being women. The inclusion of gender violence and women´s rights to use the public spaces in the security policies. The visibilization of the different violence suffered by women in the private and public spheres: the continuity of violence against the bodies of women.
Security Councils of women in the neighborhood’s. Police protocols on violence against women. Capacitation on line courses addressed to different stakeholders including security actors. Observatories of cities, violence and gender, among others. The visibilization of Male violence—primarily occurring in public spaces— taking place among men and generally having to do with organized crime-linked groups. Violence against women in public spaces, on the other hand, tends to be random and could affect any woman, regardless of class, education, age, ethnicity or place of residence. (Kessler,2008; Falú, 2009a)
The Right to the City (Le droit à la ville) (Henri Lefebvre, 1968) provides a political perspective that emphasizes the satisfaction of citizen’s needs, and the “rescue of man as the protagonist of the city he has built.” Given that concept, David Harvey’s question (2008) takes on new relevance: What rights are we talking about? And about whose city? Or perhaps stated in a different manner: Who defines and builds the city? Who benefits from its public goods and different services? (Falú, 2013). Focusing on questions of inclusion and gender, feminists from various disciplines have been doing research that pays attention to these questions. These efforts have brought to light the subordinate positions and conditions in which women in cities find themselves, that are grounded in a powerful and ongoing gender-based division of labor. Women’s place is deemed to be in the private home environment, out of the public eye: “…men linked to productive work—income generators—and women seen as responsible only and exclusively with regard to domestic and reproductive tasks: caring for the children and running the household.” (Falú, 1998). In Latin America2, starting in the 1980s, numerous theoretical works focused on the subject of the relationship between women and the cities, adding new arguments to the feminist voices. All of those served to contribute significantly to advances made in the 20th century regarding women’s rights, establishing treaties, international agreements and platforms, national laws, etc. The rapid globalization process accentuated changes in the territorial structure of cities at a high social cost. In recent decades there appears to have been a consensus regarding the most important results of globalization and neoliberal policies in the non-stop changes in cities, approaches to urban life and, more specifically, how that is planned and managed (Falú, 2009a). There is nothing to indicate that the present global process has contributed to easing the problemof segregation, but rather that it has made it only deeper and more complex (Falú, op.cit).
I will address to one experience: The Women´s AGENDA. Committed to the Problems in their City. Aims and Objectives of the Experience The Agenda for Women in the City, Without Fear or Violence grew out of cooperation among organized managers, experts and women in the communities of the northeast, western and southern Districts of the City of Rosario, Argentina. Drawing up the Agenda brought to the fore these women’s political decision to include within it demands and proposals seen as essential to living in safer cities and with inalienable rights, thus creating an instrument with political and governmental impact. The Agenda’s aim was to bring the issue of violence against women to light and move forward on the issue of equal opportunities for women. In this regard, the Agenda served as a learning tool within the negotiation process among various players in the political sphere, resulting in consolidating women’s neighborhood organizations, systematizing their demands, and addressing questions of citizen education and training. The process involved participative feedback in identifying the causes of violence in the respective areas. Among the methodological tools applied were: walks through neighborhoods, focus groups, and on-the-street and home surveys. The Process Several meetings were held to establish the Agenda’s aims and intentions. Priorities were established, focusing on the need for preventive action, attention to, and control of, violence against women—including that against lesbians and within work contexts—as well as reviewing budgetary questions. In addition, actions were taken to have a voice in the electoral platforms of various political candidates. Thus, the demands and proposals were as follows: • Create the means and budget to give visibility to, and promote, women’s action groups. • Demand neighborhood play centers for children that encourage women’s active involvement. • Heighten social awareness of violence against women and encouraging media coverage of the subject. 66 Monograph City, Social Inclusion and Education In 2014 The Agenda for Women in the City set forth the following: 1. Respect for a violence-free life in the city. 2. Put into effect National Law 26.485 regarding Comprehensive Protection to prevent, sanction and eliminate violence against women. 3. Strengthen the city council’s program aimed at addressing and preventing issues of gender violence in neighborhoods. 4. Implement Equal Opportunities Plan III. 5. Include gender and safety questions in urban planning. 6. Increase decentralization of social/cultural activities to make public spaces more accessible.
For women to play a role in their cities’ story and be productive participants in that, requires a paradigm change that needs a close examination of the theoretical coordinates that place them in the position of objects and the creation of a network of actions and public policies established between the government level and society at large. Women’s right to the city is a key factor in the development of a real citizen democracy, allowing women to express their aspirations, needs and demands and simultaneously enjoy full use of the city’s public goods and services. Addressing and removing the critical hurdles set forth here requires a symbolic and cultural transformation and involves a change regarding both formal and non-formal education: alter the ongoing gender-based division of labor, inequalities, unfair work conditions for women (particularly with regard to non-visible caretaking and childrearing) and violence against women. With regard to the last point, though the issue has been addressed on a public level, it remains the primary thorn in the side of women’s lives, both at home and outside of the home. The Women’s Agenda experience and its associated methodology is part of this change geared towards education and training leading towards active citizenship. That is not based only upon the words and actions of experts on the subject, but also upon raising the voices of women who live this experience on a daily basis and are “expert voices to be heard.” They must become active and committed participants in improving the conditions of life in their neighborhoods, and not simply recipients of interventions and planned actions by specialized teams. While commitment to the issue and intellectual reflection are necessary (Borja, 2013), there must also be motivation and action on the part of citizens, as well as an investment on the issue by those in power who are in the position of taking action. In this regard, we have turned to the joint action taken by specialists, local authorities and women in the community, taking into consideration their knowledge of the neighborhood, the city, their spaces, and the streets and transport systems to which they need to have access. Not only is freedom of movement in the neighborhood important, but so is attention to health and education issues, and social services for the elderly. In sum, addressing all of the tasks and experiences that women take on.