Urban Design and Women’s Safety Wed in Montreal

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.’
–Julie
Madsen
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