Using Technology to reduce violence against women and girls

Report from STATT: Tackling Gender Based Violence with Technology

A collection of case-studies was released this week, looking at technology based solutions to gender-based and sexual violence.

To access the full report, please download the attached document.

An excerpt from the introduction:

A growing body of literature supports STATT’s experience that technology-based solutions can have a positive impact in addressing GBV, but also points to a number of challenges associated with the use of such interventions. The organisation commissioned this report to contribute to the available literature and deepen understanding of how organisations working in conflict-affected and fragile contexts are using mobile and internet technology to prevent or respond to gender-based violence.

Specifically, STATT wished to explore, through the collection and analysis of a series of case studies, key lessons learned around the:

  • Effectiveness and impact of these new technologies in the prevention and response to gender-based violence;
  • Costs, financial backing for, sustainability and scalability of such projects;
  • Relationship between the technology and ‘traditional’ work to tackle gender-based violence;
  • Challenges and advantages associated with using these technologies in interventions to address gender-based violence.

The resulting report is organised in five sections: introduction, methodology, overview, case studies, and main findings and recommendations. The overview sets out the main findings from an initial literature review; the section on case studies outlines the approaches and learning from seven technology-based solutions developed and implemented in very different contexts in Africa, Asia and Latin America; and the final section analyses and reflects on the implications of the
learning from the literature review and case studies for further work in this area. It is hoped that policymakers, practitioners and advocates of high quality and responsive GBV initiatives will find the results presented in this report relevant to their work.


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Rehtaeh Parsons' father to speak at Ottawa theatre production on sexual violence
January 18, 2017

The trial of former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi sparked a national conversation about sexual violence cases and how they play out in the justice system.

That discussion has now entered the creative realm with a dance-theatre production called The Ghomeshi Effect, opening at The Gladstone on Thursday. The show presents real stories of sexual assault to explore the effects of language and violence.

Throughout the show’s nine-day run, guest speakers will take part in TGE Dialogues, a series of panel events about sexual assault, rape culture, PTSD and the legal system.

The performance begins with keynote speaker Glen Canning, the father of Rehtaeh Parsons, a Nova Scotia teenager who was sexually assaulted by four boys at a home near Halifax in 2011. Rehtaeh ended her life April 4, 2013, following months of cyber-abuse and victim blaming.

After the death of his only child, Canning became an advocate for victims of sexual assault.

The Citizen spoke to him about his life of activism since his daughter’s death.

Q. What is your impression of the message behind The Ghomeshi Effect?

A. I think using art is always good for highlighting social injustices. I think what they are putting on is fantastic, good for them. And I was really honoured to come and talk about my daughter Rehtaeh and her story and the role men take in violence against women.

Q. What will you be talking about? What is your message?

A. I want to talk about (Rehtaeh’s) case and I want to talk about rape culture and the victim blaming that was involved — and the victim blaming that is involved in essentially every sexual assault.

Q. There’s a group aimed at engaging men in the prevention of violence that will take part in the panel. What are your thoughts?

 A. MANifest Change is a good group. I know there’s also ManUp in Ottawa. It’s a fantastic group of young guys in high schools talking about violence against women. I believe it inspires them to start speaking up and speaking out. And more importantly, it inspires them, hopefully in a good way, to be very aware of the bystander effect and to not be a bystander.

Q. What do you mean by the bystander effect?

A. Bystanders are a huge part of the problem and that’s part of my message as well. It’s people who don’t do anything. People who will see something happening or a person in distress or in trouble and not think that it involves them and they just don’t want to do anything about it. The bystander (issue), I know in my daughter’s case, it could have made a difference, a big difference, but it just never happened. It’s hard because it’s four young guys in a home with her, completely vulnerable and not one of them stood up.

Rehtaeh Parsons is shown in a handout photo from the Facebook. Credit: Facebook

Q. What can people do to help those who have been victims and are in need of social support during the aftermath?

A. No one really came to (Rehtaeh’s) defence the following week (after the assaults) when everyone was labelling her and attacking her. If you know somebody is being really wronged, just do anything, do something. Send them a message, send them an email, send them a tweet. Say, ‘I’m glad you are in our school. Thinking of you today.’ It’s important to (instil) empathy in kids. And if they start getting involved with that with each other, they are going to see other social injustices go on and they are going to start talking about them too.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length.

New webcams, shelters installed along 'Highway of Tears'

Security measures hope to improve safety on section of highway where dozens of women have disappeared

The Canadian Press, Dec 26, 2016

The B.C. provincial government has installed webcams and bus shelters to improve safety along Highway 16. Dozens of women are believed to have disappeared along the section of highway, between Prince George and Prince Rupert, known as the 'Highway of Tears'.

The B.C. provincial government has installed webcams and bus shelters to improve safety along Highway 16. Dozens of women are believed to have disappeared along the section of highway, between Prince George and Prince Rupert, known as the 'Highway of Tears'. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press) ​

The province says four new webcams are up and running and six new bus shelters have been installed along Highway 16 to help improve safety for those taking the route. The government said the new highway cameras complement three new webcam views that were activated on the highway in Smithers over the summer.

The webcams are meant to increase the safety and visibility of pedestrians and motorists along the road, also known as the Highway of Tears.

It's part of a $5 million plan to improve safety along the 800-kilometre stretch of highway, where dozens of women are believed to have disappeared over the past several decades.

[Graphic design]

New initiative aims to fight sexual harassment at Toronto bars — through drink coasters
'On The Table' is a series of locally-designed coasters meant to spark dialogue at Toronto venues
by Lauren Pelley, CBC News, Jan 09, 2017

These eye-catching coasters aim to spark dialogue about sexual harassment and consent, featuring designs from various local artists including Hazel Meyer (left) and Lido Pimienta (right). (Aisle 4)

As co-owner of two Toronto bars, Phil Cacace has heard plenty of stories about harassment from female staff and clientele.

"They get followed all the way home from work sometimes," says the co-owner of Wenona Craft Beer Lodge and Tall Boys, both found on the stretch of Bloor Street West between Dufferin and Christie Streets.

"Or taxi drivers want to know if this is where they live and this is where they work. Or they come back from the bathroom, take a sip of their drink, and don't remember the rest of their night."

That's why when Aisle 4, a Toronto-based curatorial project promoting socially engaged artwork, contacted Cacace about a new sexual harassment awareness project involving beer coasters designed by local artists, he jumped at the chance to participate.

"This is still the harsh reality of the bar scene, and all too often it's brushed aside or tolerated," he says.

The project — cheekily called 'On The Table' — is a series of coasters designed to spark conversation about gender-based violence and sexual harassment in bars, clubs, and other venues.
Aisle 4

Left to right: Emily Fitzpatrick, Patricia Ritacca, Renée van der Avoird, and Shannon Linde are all members of Aisle 4, a Toronto-based curatorial project that initiates and promotes socially engaged artwork. (Aisle 4)
Coaster series features 4 local artists

Featuring designs from Toronto artists Jesse Harris, Aisha Sasha John, Hazel Meyer and Lido Pimienta, the coasters will be distributed to at least 15 bars during the Toronto Design Offsite Festival that's happening from Jan. 16 to 22.

The four women curators behind Aisle 4 — Emily Fitzpatrick, Shannon Linde, Patricia Ritacca, and Renée van der Avoird — hope the project creates a larger dialogue about harassment beyond just chit-chat over pints.

"It's not a government PSA. It's a more subtle intervention in people's lives," says Linde.
Coaster project Aisle 4

"Listen to your gut" reads a coaster design from local artist Aisha Sasha John. (Aisle 4)

Fitzpatrick says 10,000 coasters will be printed, featuring phrases like "Consent matters" on one design by Pimienta.

Contributing to the project was a no-brainer for the Toronto-based, Colombian-born interdisciplinary artist.

"It matters because I'm a woman, and I don't often feel safe, and I've been a victim of sexual harassment myself, so I know what it's like to feel like you're just holding this secret and feeling like if you speak out, you'll be blamed for it," she says.
Goal is to create a 'larger dialogue'

So will it have an impact? Toronto-based cultural commentator Candace Shaw, who isn't connected to the project, says anything that starts a conversation about harassment is helpful, but this type of project might not make a big concrete difference.

"There are certainly a lot of people out there who are committing sexual assault that a coaster is not going to affect," she says.

Even so, the women behind Aisle 4 hope the project at least gets people talking.
Aisle 4 coasters

The eye-catching coaster project is meant to spark dialogue about gender-based violence and sexual harassment, with designs like this from Toronto artist Jesse Harris and others. (Aisle 4)

"The main goal would be to just create a larger dialogue about these issues," says Fitzpatrick, who says the project is funded by the Toronto Arts Council and has been in the works for about a year.

So far, an assortment of bars and venues across the city have signed on, including Civil Liberties, Cold Tea, Get Well, the Gladstone Hotel, Track & Field, Unlovable, and Wenona Craft Beer Lodge.

OC Transpo launches new online tool to report harassment
Posted by ROSE on July 1, 2015

Patrick Smith, Ottawa Citizen, June 17, 2015

A two-year-long wait finally paid off Wednesday, as OC Transpo introduced a new online tool that will allow riders to report harassment.

The service had originally promised a security tool similar to this one in its 2013 10-point safety plan, but consultations and discussions with a safety working group delayed the process until now.

“We’re so excited. This is so long overdue,” said Julie Lalonde, director of Hollaback! Ottawa, part of the working group pressing for the measure. “We’ve finally gotten OC Transpo to recognize the types of violence that we’ve been trying to put on their radar for two years.”

The online incident reporting tool, accessible through OC Transpo’s website via the “Safe Travels” menu tab on the home page, is part of the fleet’s new transit safety campaign in conjunction with the Ottawa police. The tool accepts reports from riders dealing with violence, vandalism of buses or Park-and-Ride stations, harm or threats to riders or drivers and any form of violence based on gender, race, disability or orientation.

The phone app challenging violence against women in a Mumbai slum

Domestic abuse is rife in Dharavi slum, but a new project uses a smartphone app and trained community workers to improve the reporting of violence

A woman potter carries earthen pots through traditional pottery kilns in the Mumbai slum of Dharavi, setting for Slumdog Millionaire.

A female potter carries earthen pots through traditional pottery kilns in the Mumbai slum of Dharavi. Photograph: Shailesh Andrade/Reuters

Mumbai’s Dharavi slum is home to anywhere between 300,000 and 1 million people. Bhanuben was born and brought up here and knows the place like the back of her hand, and the challenges of surviving in this “teeming slum of 1 million souls”.

“There is a high incidence of gender violence here, but I have been lucky,” says Bhanuben, a mother of two sons, adding: “My husband is a good man.”

Data from the National Crime Records Bureau shows that 43.6% of all crimes against women are by husbands and relatives

Violence against women is pervasive in India and much of it – domestic violence, dowry deaths, acid attacks, honour killings, rape, abduction and cruelty – is at the hands of family members. Data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that an Indian woman is most unsafe in her marital home: 43.6% of all crimes against women are by husbands and relatives.

In multi-ethnic Dharavi, the problem is compounded by the fact that most women are poor and uneducated. The relentless pressure to survive, lack of space and unhygienic living conditions lead to malnutrition, deprivation and disease – and often abuse of vulnerable women and children.

SNEHA started working with women in Dharavi in 2001 and has since supported 300,000 women and mobilised 130 women’s groups to educate and support survivors of violence.

“While the number of cases of domestic violence has been increasing every year in the slum, we felt there was a gap in reporting of such incidents thanks to lack of a support structure and societal norms that force women to keep quiet,” says Nayreen Daruwalla, director of SNEHA’s prevention of violence against women and children programme.

To improve reporting of violence, SNEHA launched the Little Sister Project in 2014. Funded by the UN development programme, the project trained 160 local women to identify and report incidents of gender violence using Android smartphones that are loaded with an open data kit (ODK) form and an app called EyeWatch.

“Earlier we would write the case details in a register... it was cumbersome. But now with ODK, we do it electronically,” explains Bhanuben. The information is then stored in a central database maintained by SNEHA. The identity of survivors is kept private.

The EyeWatch app, which has been developed by a firm called Indianeye Security, is a mobile-based platform that allows the community workers, known locally as sanginis, to take audio and visual clips if they witness an incident. Once the app is activated and an alert has been raised, a call goes through to an SNEHA employee who can offer assistance.

“This technology helps us crowdsource cases of violence, track cases of repeat violence and understand more about the prevalence of violence in Dharavi,” says Daruwalla. “We believe reporting violence is the first step in preventing violence.”

Mumbai's Dharavi is Asia's largest slum and home to up to 1 million people.
Mumbai’s Dharavi is Asia’s largest slum and home to up to 1 million people. Photograph: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images
The app, SNEHA believes, encourages increased reporting of violence, lets community members know what assistance is available, and helps NGOs understand more about the prevalence of violence in Dharavi. The interaction is two-way: sometimes sanginis come to know about a case and approach the survivor; at other times, survivors seek out sanginis to report incidents.

“Our volunteers are trained to advise survivors on [the] availability of medical help and also on how to approach the police.” Once cases are brought to SNEHA’s centre, counsellors help survivors file police reports and offer legal support, says Daruwalla.

Earlier this year, SNEHA promoted its work at the inaugural Dharavi biennale. Using scrap denim pieces and discarded objects, sanginis created an art project called Mapping the Hurt, an innovative visualisation of gender violence in the slum.

But if tracking and reporting violence is one part of the challenge, the next big hurdle is getting the police to act.

“Whenever we go to the police to report on domestic violence, they are reluctant to file a case. They say such issues should be settled at home,” explains Bhanuben. Even if a case is lodged, low conviction rates strengthen the impression that there is little point in reporting the crime. Further, a lack of understanding of gender issues, violence and entrenched views about women’s status among lawyers and judges often encourages outcomes that favour reconciliations, overlooking a woman’s needs and demands.

Data collected from July to December last year by SNEHA showed that of the 345 cases analysed, only 19% were reported to the police.

The NGO’s outreach programme has trained 4,500 police officers and cadets in Mumbai and more than 2,100 public hospital staff to help them identify evidence of violence among patients.

Bhanuben says that along with being a support group, sanginis are friends with whom women can sit and chat. “Sometimes we go for an outing … to get some fresh air. To outsiders, this camaraderie may not mean much, but for us this is oxygen to survive in this challenging atmosphere.”

Support the HOLLA::Revolution! 

Why we care: Street harassment--ranging from comments like “You’d look good on me” to groping, flashing and assault--is a daily, global reality for many girls and women and fuels a cultural environment that condones gender-based violence.

How we’re solving this: Uniting a network of leaders from 25 countries in New York City to establish a global strategy to end street harassment.

Learn more and support the campaign running on Catapult this month. 

Hollaback! Philly launches anti-harassment ads in the SEPTA this month!
5 ways you can take action

1. Support our campaign to raise $15,000 by April 30th to bring our site leaders together in person for the first time ever. Together, we'll establish a global strategy to end street harassment.  The project is on Catapult, check it out! 

2. Join your community in taking action this week! You can find a full list of activities around the world on the  International Anti-Street Harassment Week website.  Or start your own action by reading our HOLLA how-to guides  on safety audits, mud-stenciling, research, protests and more.

3. Tell us why you Hollaback! This month we're collecting stories of why people Hollaback!. Tell us your story by tagging us on twitter (@ihollaback) or  sending us a photo on Facebook. We'll elevate your voice in this coversation by retweeting or re-posting your thoughts.

4. Learn more
 about how to be an effective bystander, and sign our pledge to take action next time you see harassment happen.

5. Share your story. Your story becomes part of the global solution and is used for research, policy change, and movement-building. You can download our free iPhone and Droid apps or share your story at

Let's make this the best International Anti-Street Harassment week ever!

-The Hollaback Team


New Delhi, India

After the devastating gang rape and murder of a young woman in New Delhi, we saw Circle of 6 downloads rise sharply. We were motivated to act quickly, and made the decision to localize the app for people living in New Delhi.

Circle of 6 – New Delhi is programmed for use in both English and Hindi, including a specific translation note for the Hindi that makes the app gender-neutral to ensure that the app speaks to people of all genders and orientations. Hotlines are now pre-programmed for the recently formed 24/7 women’s hotline of New Delhi and the Jagori advocacy helpline. As a suggested third number, the user is directed to the Lawyer’s Collective if calling the police feels unsafe, which for many women it does.

Download the app on iTunes. Android coming 4/15.

Boston Man Invents Straws And Cups That Detect Date Rape Drugs

When you and your friends are out on the town, do you keep an eye on your drink? It’s been years since the first warnings against colorless, odorless, tasteless “date rape” drugs, but they’re still showing up in bars, restaurants, at parties, and on college campuses. But, one Boston inventor and attorney aims to put a stop to them.
 Michael Abramson is sitting in a bar overlooking the harbor in South Boston’s Seaport neighborhood.
It’s the kind of place he comes for drinks with friends after work. Right now he’s eyeing the plastic straws… on the bar and in his drink.
“Your straw is constantly in your drink throughout the entire night. And let’s say now somebody slips GHB into your drink…”
GHB is one of the most common synthetic “date rape drugs.” It comes in liquid, powder and pill form, and it has powerful euphoric and sedative effects.

“Your straw would actually change color. Any part that is touching the drink would actually then change color. And it would be designed, too, so it would be clear that there was a color change happening, there would be no question about it,” Abramson said.

Read more:

Govt launches '181' helpline number for women in all states
Monday, Jan 21, 2013 | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

A month after releasing the three-digit emergency number for women in Delhi, the government said it will make available the '181' women helpline number to all states of the country.

A month after releasing the three-digit emergency number for women in Delhi, the government on Monday said it will make available the '181' women helpline number to all states of the country.

"We will give single emergency number 181 to women across the country," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here.
According to sources, Sibal is expected to write to all chief ministers about the Ministry's decision to allocate the three digit number '181' to all states so that it can be made a national helpline for women.

Representational picture (above) - DNA

After allocation of the emergency number, the state governments will be required to set up their call centers.

"The Telecom Department will make available the number to all states, which are than required to set up call centers so that the number becomes operational across the country," sources added.

Amidst nationwide uproar over brutal gang-rape of a 23-year old paramedic student in the national capital, the Telecom Ministry in December released a three-digit number, 167, for women helpline in Delhi.

The number, however, was changed to '181' as the Ministry felt that it would be easier to recollect. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had requested to allot a three-digit phone number for helping women in distress.

This was the first three-digit number to have been allotted in two years by the Ministry.

Sexism and the City

Most cities were designed around men and their work. It's time for that to change.

I've lived in several cities across the world in my adult life and could never quite pinpoint why I felt safer in places like Mumbai and New York than Delhi and DC.

Some of this appears in the statistics—Delhi has more reported violence against women than Mumbai, and DC has more violent crime than New York. And some is experience—in DC I was followed down quiet roads, exposed to a guy's genitalia on a sidewalk when he flashed me in broad daylight. In Delhi, I was contemplating whether or not to take an Uber one night, and the next day a woman accused her driver of rape.

There was a palpable discomfort to navigating these metropolises and trying to figure out where I fit in their infrastructure. And I've learned since that my instinct was grounded in a long history of urban planning, and how most cities never accounted for women in their design.

"'A woman's place is in the home' has been one of the most important principles in architectural design and urban planning in the United States for the last century," Dolores Hayden, an urban planning historian, wrote in her 1980s essay What Would a Non-Sexist City Be Like?

New York City plan in 1660. Image: New-York Historical Society Library, Maps Collection

Now we're at a crucial point in urban planning because some of our age-old systems have been upended by innovation or economics. We have Uber and other ride shares replacing traditional transportation systems and Elon Musk trying to build the high-speed Hyperloop and underground tunnels. And our lifestyles are in flux: More young people are sharing homes before they get married, and they're living with their parents longer.

We can't design away sexism or the creepy dude waiting at the train platform. These are some of our culture's oldest, most insidious problems and urban planners alone can't solve them. But urban planners are now looking to new designs and technology that, for the first time, should include the other half of the population.


Transportation is often where the urban planning gender divide becomes most apparent. The World Bank even holds an annual conference about inclusive transportation, since it can be the mark of a city's economic and social success.

"We need a system that seamlessly connects everything—that allows you to customize your trip," said Susan Zielinski, a former transportation planner for the City of Toronto and University of Michigan professor.

Zielinski, who has helped design new systems and protocols to make more equitable city infrastructure, told me that much of the discussion is around access.

Women's car of Keio Line at Shinjuku Station, Tokyo. Image: Wikimedia Commons

There are several reasons women might access transportation differently than men. For example, women have different transportation habits since many of them multitask between home and work, taking more short trips per day than men. Women are more likely to run errands than their husbands, and more women freelance than men—a lifestyle that can require erratic trips and workdays. And as long as women are paid less (80 cents to the dollar in the US, on average) they will need a system that fits a different budget.

"Ultimately, transportation is the fulcrum that allows women to participate in the workforce," said Sonal Shah, a Delhi-based urban planner with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

The issue of access is compounded further by safety factors: Most women I know in New York have been in the horrifying position of sitting in a nearly empty train car with a lecherous guy staring into her eyes while touching himself. And train stations, parking lots and bus stops on dark, isolated street corners make it more difficult for women to go to work before rush hour, or stay late to finish a project—feeding into the vicious cycle of unequal compensation.

A survey from the Safe and Sound report about women and transport. Image: FIA Foundation

Some cities have started to adjust their systems to be more welcome. In Brazil, for example, the city of Rio de Janeiro has attempted to make its trains safer by adding more lighting to each car. And it joined countries like Japan and India in installing women-only train cars, a bandaid solution to what can be otherwise hostile environments. New York is also considering open gangway cars on the subway, which would allow passengers to move from isolated parts of the train to others.

In India, where sexual harassment has become a national issue in recent years, the government has also tried to install CCTVs, or surveillance cameras, in trains and stations, and more lighting. But, as Shah pointed out, those don't reach every corner. And they're not always good for society—they can backfire on lower income neighborhoods and cause health hazards and privacy concerns.

Zielenski said countries in Scandinavia—unsurprisingly, given their renowned gender equality—have also made their systems easier by connecting trains, cars and bikes in a more seamless and accessible way.

And the new generation of planners and lawmakers are following suit across the world, instead of just pushing for more cars and better roads. "The millenials understand systems and multimodality instead of putting their identity on a car," she said.


As transportation inches toward equity, that leaves the actual places we live, work, and hang out. It's in these spaces that we're fighting literally centuries of patriarchal urban planning.

As Dolores Hayden wrote in What Would a Non-Sexist City Be Like?, most cities were built in such a way that men could go out and work while women stayed home to look after the kids. Coming home was a respite for men, so it was preferred that homes were separate from work altogether, especially since many of the jobs were in dirty or polluted industries.

These single-zone city plans, where livelihoods are separated from homes, didn't change as women started to work in increasing numbers, or when jobs shifted from factory work to offices after the industrial revolution. Now, that pattern weighs heavily on women, and not only because they do 40 percent more housework and childrearing, on average.

Hayden said one of the best ways to support women, especially those who work, is to create more communal living situations. Houses built around courtyards where parents can watch each other's kids, or where neighbors are able to share cars, for example, could be a boon for working mothers. Right now, we rely instead on daycares, nannies, or just an overburdened schedule that can strip both time and money from women.

A plan for Fiona House, a 12-unit facility for single mothers. Image: What Would a Non-Sexist City Be Like/University of Chicago Press

In Vienna, Austria, city planners took this to task in 1993. In a project called Frauen-Werk-Stadt (Women-Work-City), they built apartment buildings surrounded by circular, grassy areas and courtyards. The complexes included kindergarten schools, pharmacies, and doctors offices. And they were closely connected to public transit. The project is now hailed as a success story by the United Nations.

The Vienna project also extended outside of living spaces, too. In Vienna, the city planners widened sidewalks, lit paths and alleyways, and redesigned public parks.

Though public spaces like plazas and parks are historically meant to bring people together, they can leave women the most vulnerable too. I was surprised when Emily May, the director of Hollaback NYC, a local branch of the anti-harassment organization told me that women in New York reported the highest rates of street harassment in areas like Times Square and Penn Station, not in dark and empty corners of the city.

A map of self-reported harassment in New York City. Image: iHollaback/Google

"There's a core assumption that people around you will respond," she said, but bystanders are not reliable. "The trauma is increased when nobody says anything." May said there are tangible things that make women feel less safe in a city—a lack of store fronts and dark lighting for example, which can be remedied.

Public safety is, of course, not solely a product of poor urban planning. Much of it has to do with culture or law enforcement. And women of color and people in the LGBTQ community are harassed more than their white and heterosexual counterparts. But designing both public and private spaces with women in mind will drastically change their experiences within them, and the way that society interacts.


When it comes to the cities I've lived in, some of these insights helped me understand my own experience. In Mumbai, for example, the public spaces were well lit and teeming with both women and men, whereas exiting the Delhi metro often left me on dingy corners of big roads. In Washington, DC, the metro has far fewer stops than the New York subway, and the areas I lived in were often far from the office buildings and manicured parks, requiring a long walk home.

Zielenski is hopeful that technology and innovation will change the way women experience their cities. Sustainable lighting on the sides of sidewalks, for example, could light up pathways at a low cost to the city, and apps can help find safer routes home. And many urban planners have started to adopt the philosophy of universal design, which accounts for the differently abled, the elderly, and of course, women.

While urban planning might not completely change some core issues with being a woman in the city—like street harassment, or men in heterosexual relationships not doing as much household work—designing a city with half the population in mind will create a better environment in the slow crawl toward equality.

"The line should be blurring," Zielenski said. "What's good for women is good for everyone."

More Emergency Blue Phones coming to UBC

by Renee Bernard, May 8, 2015

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Weeks before a roundtable discussion about safety at UBC, the university is announcing the installation of new safety-related equipment.

For the last two years, the school has focussed on improving campus lighting and expanding its Safe Walk program.

“We are proceeding with installing close to 40 new Emergency Blue Phones on campus, complete with incident-driven cameras and 15 or so cameras at the bus loop,” says Director of Security Barry Eccleton.

The security of students and staff became a priority after a series of sexual assaults two years ago.

Eccleton says enhancing safety is an ongoing discussion and the subject of two upcoming roundtables.

“The first one will be with safety leaders from around campus including faculty and then a general roundtable when the students come back from summer holidays.”

He says besides the installation of new safety equipment, another positive to come out of the attacks is that people on campus are looking out for each other.

Six women were attacked in separate incidents in 2013 and police believe the same man was responsible.

He has yet to be arrested.

51-Year-Old, Self Taught Developer Creates App to Help Women Escape Abuse

Alicia Carr Purple PocketBook

Alicia Carr isn’t your typical tech founder. Having discovered her love for coding later in life, she’s using her newfound talent for a good cause. Her app, The Purple PocketBook, was established as an effort to empower women experiencing domestic violence with the essential tools required to develop a safe, secure exit plan. As someone who’s had family and friends fall victim to domestic violence, Carr wants her app to help the millions suffering from abuse across the country. We recently connected with Alicia to get the scoop on her and her app.

What’s your current role?
Executive Director – The Purple Pocketbook Foundation Inc.
CEO – Mac IT Enterprise LLC

What startup/tech projects have you worked on?
In 2012, I decided I wanted to be a app developer after meeting a young man who was 16 years old. I asked how he got the funds to get the first version of the iPad and he told me he was a millionaire after developing the app. I said to myself, “I want to do that.” A friend of mine got me started by learning Objective C. After many books and online courses, I started working on the Purple Pocketbook in January 2014 and finished the first version in March 2014. After a month of submitting the app to Apple, it finally got approved on May 2, 2014.

The app’s main features are:
-Secrecy: the app provides a discreet, untraceable platform for women to review their available resources, including local shelter contact information.
-Education: Questionnaire designed to confirm what type of domestic violence you may be experiencing.
-Safe, secure escape options: the women can finally see relief from this awful situation.
-Legal information (State of GA ONLY)
-Offered in 6 different languages: English, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Urdu and Hindi

Purple PocketBook Screenshot 1Purple PocketBook Screenshot 2
Screenshots of the Purple PocketBook App

What tech/tools are essential to you?
My iPhone, my iPad, my MacBook Pro…I can’t live without my Apple family.

What are your best technical or creative skills?
I have always been creative. My mom taught me how the sew and then I started designing my clothes. A family member taught me how to crochet and I took that to the next level and started to learn how to knit.

While my husband was in the military, I would buy old computers and take them apart and build a new computer out of the old parts. I wanted to learn how to create a website, so I learned HTML and designed and maintained my first website called the African American Literary Forum. It allowed African American authors to list their books for free and allowed readers to find/buy them from Amazon.

What’s next on your list to learn?
Right now on my list to learn is to do more projects in Swift to expand my knowledge and résumé.

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