Gender violence in public spaces: Studying the approaches and theorising the pathways of change On Going

Area(s) of work: Gender

Duration: June 2020 to May 2023

Status: On-Going

Funder/ Partner: Ford Foundation

Feeling unsafe in public spaces takes a variety of forms all over the world. The experiences of violence prevent women’s full participation in public life and influence their sense of self, their understanding of vulnerability and has implications for women’s access to freedom of movement, education and livelihood. The importance of addressing women’s access to public space is not about ‘safety, but about equality and independence for women.

There are several organisations working to combat public violence against women and it is critical to examine these efforts made – these micro-systems of resistance – where small changes and decentralised action have led to changes in the participation of women in public spaces. In this project, we are trying to map the ways in which long-term social change can be influenced when we consolidate and understand these micro-mechanisms across time and place, especially concentrating on the processes that have allowed the social change to occur. Through this process, we hope to understand the mechanisms by which social change is taking place.

In order for us to gain an understanding of the social problem within its social context, this study will examine the approaches of three different organisations in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Telangana to understand and map the process of change that each of the organisations are trying to influence to address gender violence in public spaces. The three organisations are: (1) Swati in Gujarat,  (2) Doosra Dashak in Rajasthan, and (3) Bhumika Women’s Collective in Telangana. Swati is currently working on an implementation project that interacts with the rural governance structures such as the Gram Panchayats to raise and address issues of public violence in rural areas. Doosra Dashak focuses on the entire ecological environment of adolescent boys and girls and tries to enhance their participation in public spaces through the use of technology and collectivisation. Bhumika is working with the institutional actors such as the police to counsel and resolve cases of public harassment in slums in Hyderabad.

Project Contact: Niveditha Menon