About the challenge

Active Learning Solutions

Girls and women in cities across the globe disproportionally live in fear while navigating around a city, especially once it gets dark. Fear of possible violence shapes women’s ability to use public spaces, and compromises their sense of freedom and inclusion in the city.

Gender-based violence is a global phenomenon today and manifests itself in all parts of the world. In the past decade, there have been several studies that have tried to explore the nature and manifestations of the problem of violence against women (VAW) in cities. 

A study by Hollaback and Cornell University in 2014 that interviewed over 16,000 women across countries, reported that over 50% of women in Europe and 75% in the US reported facing their first incident of harassment before the age of 17. Over 70% reported anger and anxiety over facing sexual harassment in the street or outdoors. Over 81% of women interviewed had experienced some form of sexual harassment. In a study from the UK in 2019, among women aged 18-24, 86% said they had been sexually harassed in public spaces (YouGuv). In a research conducted in Delhi by UN Women, over 80% women respondents had faced sexual harassment in the street in the past year. 

About the solution

My Safetipin, is a personal safety app designed to collect data on women’s experience in public spaces. At its core (available for free from Apple’s app store Google Play store) is the ‘Safety Audit’, a participatory tool for assessing information about perceptions of urban safety in public spaces. 

The audit is based on eight parameters that impact safety, including physical infrastructure such as lighting, openness, walkability and public transport as well as social usage of spaces. The app allows any user to enter data about the status of physical infrastructure, as well as to share how they feel in any specific geo-tagged place in a city. It collects and collates the data, making it visible immediately to all app users. In this way, the app becomes an interactive virtual space for conversing about safety and perceptions. 

In addition, the app has personal safety features like ‘Nearby Places’ to locate nearby police stations, medical clinics, bus stops, banks or other places a woman might want to seek out if feeling unsafe. ‘Tracker’, another feature, is there to track or get tracked by family or friends and ‘Safest Route’ to provide the safest route (superimposed on Google Map directions) based on safety audits conducted in the area. These features are convenient and useful for women to navigate their way in the city.

The data from My Safetipin is further analyzed for use by city governments, urban planners and other stakeholders. The organization managing the app, Active Learning Solutions, has a mission to build a world where everyone can move around without fear, especially women. My Safetipin aligns with the global initiatives like UN SDGs, the New Urban Agenda and is a global partner of UN Habitat’s Global Network on Safer Cities.