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. 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. On the one hand, informal areas suffer from insufficient services and deteriorated infrastructure, leading to a call for investment 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.
This project not only offers an opportunity to promote a safer, and more accessible public space for women in informal neighborhoods, but aspires to larger goals within the above context as well. 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.