September 2022 – Efus is redoubling its commitment to promote a gender-based approach to urban security issues with the incorporation, last summer, of the Women in Cities Initiative (WICI), a non-profit network founded in 2002 focusing on gender equality and the participation of women in urban development.
Efus is thus embedding the gender perspective across its activities, offering members its expertise combined with that of WICI in the design and use of gender-based methods and tools, promoting the inclusion of women in local security forces, and promoting gender-based approaches to public space protection and urban mobility.
Methods and tools: gendered audits
A key element of the strategic approach to urban security, audits are meant to appraise as correctly as possible the security ‘landscape’ of a given locality as well as citizens’ perception of security, which must include the perceptions of the different groups of population that live in or visit the city, including women and girls.
Indeed, among other vulnerable groups, women and girls have a specific experience of urban spaces. They are often subject to catcalling, threats, intimidation, harassment, sexual attacks or rape. Since violence against them tends to be underreported and thus underestimated in official statistics, using women’s first-hand accounts in local security audits helps decision makers to develop a more nuanced understanding of the local security situation.
Inspired by the Women’s Safety Audit tool first developed in Canada, further expanded by UN-HABITAT, and benefitting from WICI’s experience, Efus is pleased to now offer its members support in conducting gendered security audits.
Methods used to conduct gendered security audits
There are different methods to conduct such gendered audits, the main ones being:
- Analysis of gender-specific data. Gathering data from different institutions across the local urban security landscape, if possible disaggregated by sex, age, education, socioeconomic situation, residence status, etc.
- Exploratory walk. A group of local women walk through a chosen space, often at night, identifying factors such as inadequate or absent lighting, negative graffiti messages, and other elements that make them feel unsafe. They produce a report that feeds into the security audit.
> The Safetipin apps can be used in carrying out such exploratory walks.
> During the last World Urban Forum (WUF) in Katowice (Poland) in June, UN-Habitat Safer Cities with Efus, WICI, VibeLab and Safetipin conducted an audit walk and discussion to explore nighttime safety through a gender-equitable lens. More information here.
- Street survey. Distributing short multiple-choice questionnaires asking women about their perceptions of safety in public spaces.
- Discussion groups with residents. Integrating a gender perspective into existing consultation mechanisms.
Promoting the incorporation of more women in local police forces
Although increasing, women’s presence in law enforcement remains unbalanced, standing at one in five across the EU, according to Eurostat.1 Yet, research has shown that female officers are less likely to use excessive force, are more skilled at addressing violence against women and sex crimes, and also help to improve police-community relations.
Although there is limited empirical research on how to recruit more women in police forces and retain them, mentoring and peer support are often mentioned as some of the best measures to help women overcome the barriers they persistently face in law enforcement.
Through WICI, Efus offers its members to organise peer support groups for women in security professions and to match senior female mentors with more junior mentees. As such, Efus proposes:
- Women in local policing network. The idea is to set up a network gathering women working in local law enforcement that will be a platform where they can share their experience and advice with colleagues from other local and regional authorities in Europe.
- One-to-one mentoring. Junior women employed in law enforcement will be matched with a more senior female colleague in a similar setting with the aim of helping them to overcome professional obstacles and to identify opportunities to enhance their career development in law enforcement.
Expert consultation on gendered approaches to public spaces and mobility
More broadly, Efus offers through WICI expert consultation on gendered approaches to the management and protection of public spaces and urban mobility.
On a case by case basis, we are happy to put our longstanding combined experience at the service of local authorities that may be contemplating strengthening the protection of their public spaces or helping female citizens circulate more freely and stress-free through the city.
> If you are interested in taking part in this initiative, please fill in this questionnaire so that we can know more about your interests and identify the specific topics you might want to explore with WICI.
> We will keep you updated on our upcoming activities on gender-based urban security approaches in the next issues of this newsletter and through Efus Network