Planning the revolution to stop violence against women

Gemma Todd, Dar es Salaam Community Manager
Dar es Salaam, 3 February 2016

Feminism is increasingly gaining momentum worldwide. With celebrity supporters and new methods of engagement, the perception of feminism is changing, and as a result, has become more inclusive to men and women globally in the quest for equality of the sexes. With this in mind, I would like to focus on the One Billion Rising global movement, and its place in Dar Es Salaam. One Billion Rising (OBR) is based on the UN statistic that one-billion women and girls will be raped and beaten during their lifetime; the revolutionary movement calls for men and women to stand up against violence. A 2007 publication by UN-Habitat suggests that in Tanzania, people living in urban areas are more at risk to crime. Perceptions and experiences of safety were compared between rural and urban areas, showing that people living in urban areas were more concerned about crime and safety. Such perceptions of crime impacted what urban dwellers would do.

The 2000 UN-Habitat Safer Cities Project survey showed that nearly two-thirds of the population felt unsafe at night. This was highest amongst women, youths (15-25), the less educated, and groups living in certain areas. Where you live and who you are mattered for safety in the city. In 2014, a woman was stripped in one of Dar Es Salaam’s main markets for being dressed "inappropriately."

OBR marks a call for justice, accountability, and change. Each year on February 14, the movement goes global, and cities become spaces for mass collectivism and solidarity to create this change. The movement is recreating public and private space for safety and unity.

Of course such an event requires planning, and for the inclusion of all voices (gender, age, race, ethnicity and more), it remains central for the planning to be participatory. Dar es Salaam is one of the cities engaging in the event for 2016, and I want to pose some questions over the nature of the participation and how it is evolving in cities. Although the power of participatory processing has been stated with evidence of its beneficial use in budgeting, planning and action (i.e. see the case of Ilala, Dar es Salaam), it remains important to question how participatory planning keeps up. Relying on “social capital” and a highly “positive” image of the community, free of power inequities, needs careful consideration on the one hand. While on the other hand, “participation” itself holds the risk of being highly selective – who is wanted to participate and why? The “poor” are not a homogenous group, and their participation needs to be followed by action, interventions and follow-ups. Participatory processes should not be used as a “planning checklist” but an embedded tool of the change.

Photo: Jacob Anikulapo

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