Plan India today launched ‘Free to Be’ – an ambitious real time digital data mapping project, in Delhi. The web-based map is being also launched in four other major cities (Lima, Sydney, Madrid and Kampala) worldwide. It aims to uncover the areas of the city that are safe and unsafe for girls and young women, and is an outcome of a joint collaboration among Plan International, CrowdSpot and Monash University in Australia.
By logging into delhi.planfreetobe.org, young women and girls of Delhi can use the app by dropping a purple ‘good’ pin on areas of the city they enjoy and an orange ‘bad’ pin on the precise locations where they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. They can then provide a description about why they like or dislike that part of the city, including detail about any incidents they experienced there. All responses are anonymous.
The map will remain open for entries for six weeks, until May 31 2018. The data will be collected and analysed by researchers from Monash University, to provide valuable insight into what makes a city safe or dangerous for girls.
Plan India, Executive Director, Bhagyashri Dengle, speaking about the launch said, “Free to Be map builds on the success of Plan India’s Safer Cities for Girls programme that empowers girls living in cities to have their say about the issues that matter to them. The outcome of the Free to Be project will enable Plan India to strengthen its programmes, and we are optimistic that inputs from it could also go into the robust smart city programmes that are initiated and led by the government.” Adding to it, Ruchi a member of Safer Cities programme, shared, “Understanding what makes us feel safe is vital. There are stigmas attached to girls’ safety and no girl willingly shares her experiences, so it is important to have such tools as it provides us an opportunity and the strength to participate and inspire other girls as well.”
The global launch follows a successful pilot of the ‘Free to Be’ map in Melbourne in 2016, where more than 1,300 young women shared their experiences of city safety ranging from street harassment, such as cat-calling and menacing behaviour to sexual assault.
Dr. Nicole Kalms, Director of the Monash University XYX Lab in Melbourne, Australia, will lead the data analysis from the five maps. She says crowd-sourced real time mapping provides evidence that girls and women often need to negotiate sexual harassment and unwanted attention when navigating their city streets. “This research will allow Plan fraternity to advocate on behalf of young women and girls so that their voices are heard by key decision-makers in architecture, urban planning, government and public transport,” Dr. Kalms said.