Urban Design and Women's Safety Wed in Montreal
The First International Seminar on Women's Safety introduced
participants to Montreal's innovative plan to place women's safety
concerns at the heart of urban safety protocols. Helen Drusine of
Women's Enews reports that this attention to women's
concerns will make a better city for all citizens.
The Montreal plan incorporates better lighting on streets, education of citizens to prepare for and intervene in violence toward women, and easily accessible telephones with which to call for help. The plan stems from the work of the Toronto's Metro Action Committee on Public Violence against Women and Children in the early 1990s, which solicited opinions from women and developed a method to 'audit' cities for safety.
The seminar, held in May, included women's groups from the Philippines, Ecuador, and other countries; community organizations; international agencies; and 150 specialists on women's safety from 20 countries and the United Nations. Each group demonstrated their own strategies to eliminate violence against women
'If women feel safe they will go out at night, they will patronize the theater, the movie houses, the business establishments,' Ann Michaud of Programmes Femmes et Villes (Women in Cities International Network) tells Drusine. 'This then gives them an equal voice, so they can be an influence in society, so that they can become more involved in government and all male-dominated areas.'
But it's not just women who will benefit from a safer city. Jan Peterson of the Huairou Commission, an umbrella group for women's organizations worldwide, says 'Women's safety affects everyone. If women are feeling safe, you know men will too.'