kNOw fear – Making Rural Public Spaces Safe for Women and Girls
Fear of sexual violence against women and girls (SVAWG) in public spaces is a significant barrier to equitable development in India and elsewhere. SVAWG in public spaces has gained attention in India, but mainly in cities. In rural settings, where 70 percent of India’s population resides, violence of this kind is unacknowledged yet prevalent. Safety for rural women and girls is typically achieved by confining them to the home, which restricts mobility, leads to school-drop out and justifies early marriage. Governance structures at the local level, the Gram Panchayats (GPs), though constitutionally mandated to address issues of social justice and violence against women and children, have reneged on this responsibility.
SWATI in partnership with International Centre for Research on Women has undertaken a pilot initiative kNOw fear. The project looks at rural women’s safety in public spaces and its impact on their lives. The objective is to develop and validate an innovative evidence-informed model, which fosters freedom from violence and safety for women and girls in public spaces in rural Gujarat, India. The project will use gender integrated strategies and leverage ICT to empower women and girls to demand and lead change, while engaging young men as partners. The project concurrently builds capacities of GPs, catalyzing them to respond to SVAWG, thereby positioning public safety for women and girls as a critical component of rural local governance.