The organization ALS SafetiPin created an application for smart cell phones that allows georeferencing factors that threaten the safety of women in public spaces at night. The methodology was transferred from India and adapted to the Colombian context to use it in Bogota under the theme "Using SafetiPin to build safer cities for women".
The Observatory of Women and Gender Equality of Bogotá aims to generate strategic knowledge on the situation of women in the city and disseminate it among the citizens, women's organizations and all those in charge of making decisions, in order to overcome the physical and cultural barriers that impede women enjoying the city and the night quietly and freely. In the framework of the International Seminar of Safe Cities, realized in Bogota in 2013, it was found that in the city of New Delhi, India, an organization called ALS SafetiPin had created an application for smart cell phones that allows georeferencing factors that threaten the safety of women in public spaces at night.
The methodology was transferred from New Delhi, India, adapted to the Colombian context and applied in Bogotá under the theme "Using SafetiPin to build safer cities for women". As a result, it was possible to carry out an investigation in which the technology developed in India was used in Bogotá through cellular devices adapted to five vehicles. Information was collected on eight variables that help to determine the safety of women: illumination, openness of the space, visibility, number of people occupying the space, presence of public and private security, road status, proximity to public transport and presence of mixed genders.
Increasing the well-being of the citizens, in harmony with the global agenda 2030 for the fulfillment of the Objectives of Sustainable Development. The pillars on which the project stands are: (i) equality in quality of life; (ii) urban democracy; (iii) community building and citizen culture. This means the public intervention serves the vulnerable population as a priority, in such a way as to materialize the constitutional principle of equality and the effective enjoyment of rights.
“Preventing, punishing and eradicating violence against women. It also promotes guaranteeing women's rights to freedom, life, physical and psychological integrity, recognizing their body as the fundamental exercise of identity and human dignity not to be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; right to personal and human security; access to justice in equity, in order to live without fear, both in the public and private pheres” (Article 11, Decree 166 of 2010, Bogotá).
Ensuring the "real and effective protection, safeguarding and materialization of the rights of diverse women, that is, promoting their participation and their social organization in the Capital District” (Mission of the District Secretary of Women, Bogotá).
Unveiling and making visible those factors that, together with the patriarchal culture, constrain freedom and create barriers for women in public spaces; advancing in overcoming the historical circumstances that place women as subalterns and draw limits, which sometimes circumscribe them to private spaces.
The District Secretary of Women, in agreement with ALS SafetiPin, georeferenced various points in the city, which were analyzed in the light of eight variables that can determine the safety of a space for women after six in the afternoon. Altogether, 17,708 points (road intersections) in Bogotá were geo-referenced, of which 36.6% were located in the west side localities of the city.
The most populated areas of the capital, which are Suba, Kennedy and Engativá, have the highest representation in the total of georeferenced points. The figure below (Gráfico 1) shows the distribution of the points captured in each locality. The town of Sumapaz was not included in the investigation due to its differences with the other localities, for instance its distinctly rural characteristics.
The research routes were defined jointly with groups of women who participated in the Local Councils of Security for Women in 2015. These meetings were attended by representatives of women in their diversity (adults, youth, caregivers, disabled, indigenous, Afro-Colombians, people of diverse sexual orientations etc.), who based on their experience and knowledge prioritized the areas and sections in which the research was conducted, through a social cartography exercise.
The coverage of the research was broad, although a deficit occurred in localities with a rural component, such as Usme, Chapinero and San Cristóbal, where the conditions of the land and the insecurity, paradoxically, did not allow to include a greater number of evaluated points.
The data on each of the variables measured by the SafetiPin tool in Bogotá – lighting, openness of the space, visibility, number of people on site, presence of security (public and private), state of pathways, proximity to public transport and mixed-gender presence – was analyzed.
The results show that intermediate safety conditions predominate in Bogota in relation to the variables analyzed with the SafetiPin technology platform. Without it being a trend or always the case, it can generally be observed that the localities where the inhabitants have greater purchasing power, have better security conditions.
As the security of women and their appropriation of public space to enjoy the city, are fundamental issues in exercising their rights as citizens, a proposal is being made to the decision-makers to replicate the successful cases of ensuring safety in the city, as well as to turn more attention to the places that have been identified as potentially dangerous by using the SafetiPin tool.
As unsafety in public spaces is a phenomenon that is present for various reasons, the response to improve it must also be multi-sectoral, (involving several sectors in the district, but also national administration). In this context, it is important to highlight the role of education and culture in solving problems such as for example street harassment. While more police or imprisonments cannot adequately address the issues, higher education levels and a drastic change in the divided culture in Colombia, can lead to denaturalizing and reducing practices of sexual abuse and harassment against women.
Securing public spaces must be designed and implemented with the participation of women, as they are the ones who live the violence and have deep reflections to contribute in the debate. These initiatives must be supported by public policy, such as Public Policy on Women and Gender Equity.
Professional/ Direction of Knowledge Management
District Secretary of Women
Mayor's Office of Bogotá, Colombia