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Organization: Women in Cities International
The following information may be cited or quoted as long as the source is accurately mentioned and the words are not taken out of context.
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Postal address of organization/institution

309-6465 Avenue Durocher
Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H2V 3Z1

E-mail address of organization/institution

Website address of organization/institution


Telephone of organization/institution

(+1) 514.861.6123

PRIORITIES: All of the organization's domains of culture of peace activity


TOP PRIORITY: The organization's most important culture of peace activity


PARTNERSHIPS AND NETWORKS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

Women in Cities International is an exchange network for various partners concerned with gender equality issues and the place of women in cities on the five continents. Women in Cities International works in close collaboration with a number of partners internationally including, by not limited to, the Huairou Commission, Red Mujer y Habitat de America Latina, Jagori, the International Centre and Network for Information on Crime, the Information Centre of the Independent Women’s Forum, Women of the Dawn Counselling Centre, Centre des aînés de Gatineau, Action des femmes handicapées (Montréal), Catholic Cross-Cultural Services, UN Habitat, UNIFEM, and the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime, etc.

ACTIONS: What activities have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the ten years of the Decade? If you already made a report in 2005, your information from 2005 will be included in the 2010 report.

Activities and Achievements
2008 – 2009

June 2009

About the Organization

Women in Cities International (WICI) is a non-profit network organization, based in Montreal, Canada, that focuses on gender equality and the participation of women and girls in urban development. WICI is dedicated to the identification, study, and dissemination of good practices, tools and intervention models. Among its partners, WICI facilitates knowledge- and experience-sharing about the improvement of women’s and girls’ safety and status in cities and communities. WICI specializes in the organization of networking events, the administration of training events, and the production of research in order to achieve its  goals.

Women’s safety is a priority issue for WICI. This is because the violence and insecurity women feel everyday is a major barrier to achieving gender equality. Violence and insecurity reduce women’s mobility and restrict their ability to freely exercise full citizenship. This is a direct violation of women’s rights, as established by the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). WICI believes that women’s meaningful participation in urban development is a core requirement for the solution of this issue. To this end, WICI commits firmly to the opinion that women’s and girls’ experiences of violence and insecurity can only be addressed when the needs of different genders are considered in all areas of urban management.  

WICI was established in 2002 after the necessity of its presence was recognized at the First International Seminar on Women’s Safety, held in Montreal, Canada. WICI’s Board of Directors is composed of scholars and practitioners who have been internationally recognized for their outstanding contributions to gender equality. WICI has over 300 Canadian and international members.

Women in Cities International’s main objectives are:
• To develop an international exchange network on women’s and girls’ participation in urban development and on the consideration of gender in municipal governments;
• To facilitate the sharing of expertise, training, and good practices;
• To encourage exchange between different actors (women’s groups, nongovernmental organizations, cities and municipalities, academia, the private sector, media, international governments, etc.);
• To promote exchange between local authorities on issues of gender equality and women’s and girls’ participation in urban development;
• To advise local governments, and national and international bodies working in the fields of gender equality and urban development.
Current Activities and Recent Accomplishments
Knowledge Network

Women in Cities International uses a variety of methods to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, practices, and skills related to gender equality and the safety and status of women and girls in cities and communities. This year, WICI and its board members have contributed to five main projects and programmes in this area.

Online Resource Centre, Gender Inclusive Cities: Increasing Women’s Safety by identifying and Disseminating Effective and Promising Approaches to Promote Women’s Access to Public Spaces (2009 – 2012)
In order to reach a larger audience and simplify access to the information it possesses, WICI and its partner, Jagori, have begun to organize an Online Resource Centre as part of the Gender Inclusive Cities: Increasing Women’s Safety by Identifying and Disseminating Effective and Promising Approaches to Promote Women’s Access to Public Spaces programme it is administrating. This programme is funded by the United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women.  The Online Resource Centre aims to bring together different groups across the globe that are working towards gender inclusive cities in order to share and access up-to-date knowledge and experience. The easy-to-navigate resource centre will offer a variety of information sources and will provide a discussion forum to encourage user participation. It will also contain a list of subscribers, in order to send out information to stakeholders. All site traffic will be monitored to learn more about the online presence of parties interested in gender inclusive cities.  

Knowledge Asset on Safe Cities and Communities for Women and Girls to Live a Life Free of Violence (2008 – 2009)
This project, commissioned by UNIFEM, is an online guide to creating safer cities and communities for women and girls. WICI has been developing the Knowledge Asset in partnership with Red Mujer y Habitat de America Latina. The Knowledge Asset is aimed at women’s and community organizations, municipal governments, public service providers (especially urban planners and public transportation employees), academics and researchers, city managers, and, of course, women and girls.  Contents focus on spreading awareness of already-existing tools, publications, and best practices. Information is provided in the areas of public awareness and community mobilization, capacity development, urban planning and design, public transportation, crime prevention and municipal policy, and programmatic design.

Women’s Safety Audits: What Works and Where? (2008 – 2009)
This international comparative assessment, produced by WICI and published by the UN-Habitat Safer Cities Programme, provides useful information on the implementation of past women’s safety audits and offers new directions for the implementation of future women’s safety audits. The results presented in this report are intended to fill existing knowledge and evaluation gaps about the tool, as well as to support the development of a set of guidelines for local authorities who intend to conduct women’s safety audits in the future. Within the report, a literature review and a series of meetings and interviews with international organizations that have used the tool cover best practices, local adaptations, and positive and negative results. The English version of Women’s Safety Audits: What Works and Where? Is being reviewed by UN-Habitat and will be published shortly. A French translation, generously provided by France’s Délégation interministérielle à la ville, will follow shortly.

Summary Results of the Second International Survey on Women’s Safety (2007 – 2009)
This report, completed in partnership with the Huairou Commission and Red Mujer y Habitat de America Latina, is meant to be the first step towards the development of an international database and directory on best practices in women’s safety. This project involved an overall international assessment of the work and best practices that both governmental and non-governmental organizations and institutions have undertaken. Preliminary results were shared at the International Conference on the State of Safety in World Cities, held in Monterrey, Mexico, from 1 – 5 October 2007. The results of the second survey will be available in the coming months.

“The Effectiveness of Women’s Safety Audits” Article for Security Journal (2008 – 2009)
WICI board members Carolyn Whitzman, Caroline Andrew and Margaret Shaw, and WICI staff member Kathryn Travers, have finalized their article “The Effectiveness of Women’s Safety Audits”, which will be published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Security Journal, in August 2009. This article, which is based on six interviews with organizations in Europe, Africa and Asia, as well as literature review, examines some of the applications, results, and challenges of the women’s safety audit tool. Results suggest that the tool is adaptable to local contexts, is effective in bringing about changes in the physical environment, and raises awareness about the issue of women’s safety among the public and decision-makers.

International Partnership
WICI aims to serve as an international crossroads in the field of gender equality and women’s and girls’ participation in urban development. To this end, it has continued to work with various international partners on innovative research and on the implementation of practical initiatives. As a result, WICI and its partners continue to build on each other’s experiences and knowledge, as well as sharing strategies and lessons learned. In the past year, WICI has embarked on two international partnership projects.

Gender Inclusive Cities: Increasing Women’s Safety by identifying and Disseminating Effective and Promising Approaches to Promote Women’s Access to Public Spaces (2009 – 2012)
This programme is funded by the United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women. It is administered by WICI and implemented by four international project partners: International Centre for Information and Network on Crime (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), Jagori (Delhi, India), Information Centre of the Independent Women’s Forum (Petrozavdosk, Russia) and Red Mujer y Habitat de America Latina (Rosario, Argentina).

The programme aims to create cities that are inclusive and respect the right of everyone, including women, to live, work and travel without fear and without difficulty. It is doing this by identifying factors that cause and perpetuate inequality and exclusion, as well as policies and programmes that promote the inclusion of women and their "right to the city". The first stage of this programme is to generate knowledge using the tools of mapping, research and analysis. After this stage is complete, WICI, in partnership with local governments and NGOs, will use this knowledge to implement pilot interventions to reduce women’s and girls’ experiences of insecurity and exclusion. These interventions will also promote public understanding of the rights of women and girls.

Following a preparatory meeting held in Montreal, Canada in February 2009, representatives from each project site, along with a team of experts, developed a work plan for the first year of this programme. The main components of this work plan involve:
• Researching the political and policy environment at each site;
• Building partnerships and identifying support groups at each site;
• Preparing and organizing one or more focus groups at each site;
• Preparing and organizing one or more women’s safety audits at each site;
• Preparing and distributing a street survey to gauge women’s experiences of safety at each site;
• Analysing and compiling data and results;
• Disseminating data results of the first year of the programme;
• Developing an Online Resource Centre on data related to gender inclusive cities.

Action Research Project on Women's Rights and Access to Water and Sanitation in Asian Cities (2009 – 2011)
This project is being administered by WICI, implemented by Jagori (Delhi, India) and funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). It focuses on governance issues and their association with women's participation in decisions related to water and sanitation in urban slums in Delhi. The aim of the project is to adapt and evaluate the usefulness of the women’s safety audit tool in this particular context. The project also involves research about the best possible modifications of local governance structures for fulfilling the needs of  women and girls.

A preparatory meeting was held for this project in Delhi in March 2009. At the meeting, various partners and individuals involved in the implementation of the project created a work plan for its first year. The main components of this work plan include:
• Organizing consultations with local organizations and stakeholders;
• Researching the political and policy environment at each site;
• Researching participatory methodologies;
• Developing and distributing a questionnaire about household water management;
• Organizing focus groups at each site;
• Adapting the women’s safety audit tool to the project context;
• Conducting women’s safety audits at each site;
• Developing a mapping methodology based on the data collected;
• Analyzing data and compiling results;
• Disseminating results from the first year of the project.

National Partnership
In addition to its work abroad, WICI is also currently working to increase partnerships for national gender equality and women’s safety in Quebec, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Creating Safer Communities for Marginalized Women and for the Whole Community (2007 – 2010)
WICI is currently in its third year of this project, which is funded by Status of Women Canada. The project’s aim is to build partnerships between municipalities and local women’s groups that work with marginalized women. Partnership-building occurs through the joint implementation of strategies to create safer communities for women, including training for and completing women’s safety audits. Safety audits have been conducted in four Canadian communities by different target populations of women: Aboriginal women (Women of the Dawn, Regina, Saskatchewan), elderly women (Centre des aînés de Gatineau, Gatineau, Quebec), disabled women (Action femmes handicapées, Montreal, Quebec) and immigrant and visible minority women (Catholic Cross Cultural Services, Peel, Ontario). Currently, WICI is providing support to each group as they finish conducting their safety audits and make recommendations for change to their municipalities.

In support of this project, WICI held a press conference on March 10, 2009 in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. During this press conference, WICI president Caroline Andrew and WICI staff member Kathryn Travers joined representatives from each of the four audit groups to raise awareness about women’s safety in public spaces. Gatineau City Councillor, Denise Laferrière, also spoke at the press conference.

Technical Assistance
As WICI accumulates greater local, national, and international experience, its staff and board members continue to look for new ways to share their knowledge and challenges. To this end, WICI has recently focused on extending its activities through technical assistance projects.  


Networking Events of Women in Cities International at the World Urban Forum 3, Vancouver, June, 19 to 23 2006
To assist in the facilitation of a gender-inclusive approach to the World Urban Forum, Women in Cities International in partnership with the Toronto Women's Call To Action, the National Network on Environments and Women's Health, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, UN -HABITAT Safer Cities, Action Canada for Population and Development, AECI, UNIFEM, Red Mujer y Habitat Lac, the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime and the Huairou Commission, organised four linked thematic networking sessions building on current work around women's safety and gender mainstreaming: sustainable community-government partnerships on gendered violence prevention; developping a template: parnership models for big cities; gender mainstreaming and local governance; and knowledge networks for women's health and safety.

2007 - Production of the guide Building Community-Based Partnerships for Local Action on Women's Safety. The guide was is intended to be used by community-based women’s groups seeking to create partnerships with their local municipal government.

2004 - WICI organized the first Women's Safety Awards, designed to elicit and reward good practices and municipal policies relating to women's safety and the improvement of women's sense of safety. The focus of the Awards is institutional change at the municipal level, through showcasing 'good practices and policies' and disseminating information on 'what works'.

PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the second half of the Decade?

It is extremely gratifying to see the growing interest of United Nations agencies - UN-Habitat, UNIFEM and the UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Women - in questions of women’s urban safety. Increasingly the links between safety and equality are being recognized and addressed in more meaningful ways. Furthermore, it is now widely accepted that violence against women is a direct violation of their human rights. Many international conventions and declarations have been adopted, and conferences and meetings organized to explore these violence against women and its ramifications, including the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign to End Violence Against Women (2008). Two international conferences have been held to look at issues of women’s safety in 2002 and 2004. These important milestones attest to the fact that the international community has acknowledged the necessity of ‘Making the Links’ (the theme of the first conference) in order to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of stakeholders including grassroots women. It is only by working comprehensively and in a multi-pronged and multi-sectoral fashion that we can begin to address the root causes of violence against women.

OBSTACLES: Has your organization faced any obstacles to implementing the culture of peace and nonviolence? If so, what were they?

It is clear that we are a long way from achieving gender equality. Violence against women and women’s sense of safety (or lack thereof) are still clear impediments to achieving equality and there is still much to be done to ensure that women can enjoy full citizenship and the right to the city.

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization in the short, medium and long term to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence?

Women in Cities International and Jagori are co-organizing the Third International Conference on Women’s Safety in order to address the needs of women and increase the networking among stakeholder working for safer and inclusive cities. The conference will take place in Delhi, India in November 2010. Women will be at the centre of the conference, which will allow them to share experience and collectively develop ideas for confronting issues that threaten women’s safety and equality in urban environments. The organization and presentation of the conference will be based on the recognition that working comprehensively and collectively in a multilevel and multi-sectoral fashion is the only way that we can begin to address the root causes of gender-based violence and inequality.

GLOBAL MOVEMENT: How do you think the culture of peace and nonviolence could be strengthened and supported at the world level??

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Organization: Women in Cities International

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