'Free to be' safety maps for girls

An online safety map launching in five major cities worldwide aims to uncover the areas where urban girls and young women feel most safe and unsafe.

Photo: ABC news

Photo: ABC news

The Plan International Free to Be city safety maps, created in collaboration with Australia’s Monash University and the online mapping provider CrowdSpot, are now live in Delhi (India), Lima (Peru), Sydney (Australia) and Madrid (Spain). Girls and young women in Kampala, Uganda, will also be able to use the map by the end of April.

Girls and young women are encouraged to use the web-based map of their city by dropping a purple ‘good’ pin on areas where they feel safe and an orange ‘bad’ pin on the locations where they feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

They can then provide a description as to why they like or dislike that part of the city, including details any incidents they experienced there. All responses are anonymous.

The map will remain open for entries for six weeks, until 31 May. The data will be collected and analysed by researchers from Monash University to provide valuable insights into the best and worst areas of the cities and what makes each safe or dangerous for girls.

The Free to Be map builds on the success of Plan International’s Safer Cities for Girls programme that empowers girls living in cities to have their say about the issues that matter to them, like street harassment, violence and fearing for their safety.

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, said the data gathered from the five maps will provide the very evidence girls and women require to demand action to make their cities safer places to live.

The online safety maps can be accessed at Free to Be