Safe Cities – Because I am a Girl, Izbat Khayrallah
Partners/Funders: UN Habitat, UNHabitat, Local Organizations (Nour, Roqey, and Nahdet Khayrallah)
Location: Izbat Khayrallah, Cairo, Egypt
Date: June – October 2014
The question of “safe cities” has become more pressing in Cairo during the past few years, as the rapid political and urban transformations create new realities in public space for all citizens, and for women in particular. The social and political upheavals generated two distinct, yet interrelated characteristics that are relevant to the subject matter: the first being the political vacuum and relative absence of strong security enforcement, leading to more aggressive and often violent encounters between individuals in public space. Secondly, the subsequent revolts and toppling of regimes have created a new sense of empowerment and emboldeneing on the part of individuals and communities, challenging attempts to reestablish order in the streets and public spaces.
For women, these changes have mostly manifested in their everyday experience, as they have been targeted with harassment, limiting their mobility and access to public spaces, services and amenities. In effect, women are being denied their rights as equal citizens.
Informal areas, on the one hand, suffer from insufficient services and deteriorated infrastructure, leading to a call for investments in upgrading by both government and civil society groups. On the other hand, informal neighborhoods enjoy strong social networks and tight-knit communities, offering opportunities to develop local modes of governance and protection of individuals.
We view this project not only as an opportunity to promote a safer, and more accessible public space for women in informal neighborhoods, but aspire to larger goals within the above context. The project may serve as a pilot for broader issues including developing alternative forms of local governance, fostering a more diverse and democratic public space, and potentially help generate economic investment through its implementation. As such CLUSTER builds on its previous experience to approach this project as a multi-layered framework for urban and social development in informal areas at large.