Our study on women and girls' safety in London's public spaces released today

As a signatory to UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces programme, London has committed to further work ensuring women and girls are socially, economically and politically empowered in public spaces.

The independent scoping report, produced by UIP Lab Co-Director Dr Ellie CosgraveTiffany Lam, and Zoe Henderson, and co-published with UCL Urban Laboratory, offers a guide to the fundamentals of gender inclusive public space design; highlights tools for investing in gender-informed public spaces; presents examples of existing action in the capital; and lays out a set of recommendations for action.

People flock to cities like London for opportunity; for work, education, culture, nightlife, and social connectedness. We know that these can be a liberation and freedom to those people who are able to access it. However, we also know that public spaces are used and experienced differently by men and women.

Presenting as female in public space increases vulnerability to violence and this is exacerbated at certain times of night in certain locations of the city. This is especially relevant in London, where 40 per cent of sexual assaults take place in public spaces including the transport network.

The Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces programme was founded by UN Women in recognition of the discrepancy between how violence in the private domain is largely regarded as a human rights violation, yet violence against women and girls, especially sexual harassment, in public spaces remains neglected and is accepted as normal or inevitable. As a signatory to this programme, London has committed to furthering work ensuring that women and girls are empowered in public spaces and that they are free from sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence.

To support London in achieving this, the independent scoping report provides guidance on the role of built environment interventions in making public spaces more inclusive, highlights global examples of how cities have integrated a gender perspective in urban planning, and outlines the existing work being undertaken by London towards this aim.

Building on these insights, the report outlines a series of recommended actions to make London safer for women and girls. These include a call to re-instate the Women’s Design Service; to implement gender mainstreaming pilot projects using gender disaggregated data; to conduct night safety audits; build on existing public awareness campaigns and create positive imagery in the public realm; and to integrate a gender perspective into TfL’s Healthy Streets Approach.

Download the report here.