Urban scientist Jane Jacobs in her book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” analyzed cities that are not similar to suburb, they are denser. She argued that cities are full of strangers, thus for making streets and roads safe, a city’s street should have a clear identification of public places and an eye on the road and street. Constant “eyes on the street” is necessary to reduce conflicts and crimes, which would eventually create safety for females too. Roads and highways must have easy access to and from location. Good lighting at public places, clear way out, maintained sight lines and signboards, giving priority to pedestrians, amenities for exercising, eating and playing for varied group of users at diverse times is increasing safety in general, and so for women too. Public places that are not sustained and fully maintained make females feel insecure.
Rapid urbanization and growing percentage of families necessitate women to move for work and left home in search of livelihood. Thynell claimed that working women devote significant time to their working day in public places particularly in public transport and markets. Gender inclusive public transport facilities for residents of the cities can play a central role in ensuring a quality of life. Cities and urban areas are considered as the hub of ideas, economic engine, modern civic amenities and opportunities for both genders, but significant proportion of urban women claimed that representation of women needs in contemporary planning is still indefinite. Transport infrastructure or road infrastructure both have a vast influence on women’s safety. Well-lit parking lots, Well-lit sidewalks are considered significant feature for ensuring women’s safety, accommodation of strollers in sidewalks, crosswalks and parking spaces for women carrying kids so that they may be able to walk together clear signboards as well as sight lines to the streets must be available, Public places like stations, platforms, bus terminals and stations as well as cab stations must be contented and safe for women. Women have a risk of aggression and antagonism in public places like parks, public streets, and city squares. The urban planning policies and organization and choices of civic services persuade risk. Women have a lack of confidence and anxiety which has the impact on usage of public parks, bazars and public transit women mobility patterns. Development of public toilet sites in cities is considered as needed urban planning concern. Sustainable, responsive and inclusive cities provide all kinds of civic facilities for city dwellers.
18th Amendment in constitutional act plays a vital role in this regard as it empowers provinces to formulate policies, laws and rules for women rights and grant funds to regions for Women’s Empowerment (Section)25(1) of Constitution grants masses to enjoy equal rights before the Law Section 25(2) outlines the “Constitution outlaws gender discrimination”, Section 25(3) authorise the state to make special laws and rules for problems faced by women and children. Section 34 outline regarding “Safeguards women right to contribute in all spheres of national life. A well-thought national level legal framework exists in Pakistan for the protection and safety of women that are Regulations and Acts for Women Safety in Pakistan, Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act, 2011, Criminal Law (Amendment) (Offence of Rape) Act 2016, Criminal Law (Amendment) (Offences in the name or pretext of Honour) Act, 2016, Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act, 2011, Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016. Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act prescribe several unbiased and repressive customs practised against women by penalizing the offenders. In the same way, Criminal Law in which Amendments were made in 2016 primarily covers the offences of rape, gang rape, rape of minors and a person with the disability and penalize offenders with imprisonment for life and fine or both. Policy for Women Authorization in Punjab include Punjab Women Empowerment Package 2012, 2016 (PWEP), Punjab Women Empowerment Initiatives 2014 (PWEI), Punjab Women Development Policy 2018 (PWDP), The Punjab Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Amendment) Act, 2012, Punjab Fair Representation of Women Act, 2014, Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act, 2016, Punjab Women Protection Authority Ordinance, 2017.
PWEP stated unequivocally that women empowerment and guaranteeing egalitarian environment for women in all segments of life is the pivotal concern of Government of Punjab. This policy intervention reopens the door for implementation of Millennium Development Goals and targets related to women empowerment in Punjab predominantly in the fields of education, health, governance, leadership and employment.ThePunjab Women Development Policy 2018 (PWDP) aims to provide a framework and charter, which endorse the women development, gender parity and equal rights at all altitudes of society, family, workplace, and across all government apparatus. The Punjab Protection Act 2012 focuses on the safety of women against harassment, Similarly Punjab Women Protection Authority Ordinance, 2017 emphasizes violence against women. Women are the emerging and central character of this urbanized world their participation and representation is accelerating in all domains of business, governance and development. As a corollary to this changed role in society, they are required to visit workplaces, and experience public places consequently it has been observed that these places are grounds of ferocity, antagonism and discomfort. An investigation of conventional practices poses challenges for urban planners and demand worthy of attention. The quotidian places, such as pedestrian sidewalks, underpasses and passageways, public restrooms, bus-stops are unnoticed within planning. To plan and design safe public places for females, planners, engineers and architects should emphasize on lighting, landscaping, visibility, motorized traffic, pedestrian circulation, street furniture, potential hiding spots, sign boards, security staffs, closeness to other public places, contiguity to emergency services, and access to public transport. Each of these areas should be given consideration from the perspective of the females of all ages who use public places.
— The writer is Researcher and Urban Planner, working in University of Management and Technology.