Post-Covid: What Does Safety Mean for Women?

Safety is a very peculiar experience for every woman. While some women feel safe in certain places, others may not, and I realized it is largely because of unique experiences, beliefs, and, most importantly, our individual perceptions of safety. The subjectiveness of our experiences makes it very difficult to derive a universal yardstick to measure or rate the safety of women.

In Victoria, the 2020 Gender Equality Act makes room for research and policies to be centered on how gender affects the needs of women and their experiences. This leads to addressing the problem of safety for women in public spaces and should suggest how spaces can be designed and implemented for the intentional inclusion of women. 

At the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, our societies ushered in a new era. A lot of streets were empty during the lockdown, and so were offices and most public places.

As we struggle to sync this new normal with our past, many people now go out to exercise in public places. For women, this is a whole new dimension. The topic of safety for women in streets, parks, bus stations, and other public places keeps recurring. Most women now walk on eggshells, living in fear, and carefully avoiding these spaces for the fear of harassment, attacks, or even rape. 

Sadly, the peculiarity of women’s experiences makes it even harder to gather data and samples, to generalize for the entire population. 

What can be done? 

The pandemic has increased the prevalence of violence against women and has once again made safety a luxury for women. Public spaces are changing (thanks to the pandemic) and so is how women are reacting to public spaces. The level of uncertainty has peaked for a lot of women, who still struggle with navigating the empty streets, parks and are at risk of getting attacked there. 

What we can do is amplify the peculiar experiences of women, as well as make room to accommodate their unique experiences in society. If we must all coexist together as a community, every member of the community must feel safe, secure for as long as they live there. If men can have that, women should too. It is not enough for us to create enabling spaces for including women. We must ensure the safety of each of these women in those spaces.

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