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Safety is a basic human right. But for the millions of women and girls living in low-income urban communities across the world, personal safety can be difficult to achieve – giving way to gender-based violence, social isolation or a lack of basic social services. With this challenge, we are asking the OpenIDEO community to help design solutions that enable women to feel safe and empowered, by contributing research, sharing ideas and collaborating with others during the challenge.

Setting the Stage

According to the latest UN Habitat Report, women make up the majority of the world’s poor—up to 70 percent in some countries. It is also widely acknowledged that women and girls living in low-income urban contexts are disproportionately affected by safety hazards such as gender-based violence, unstable housing and inadequate sanitation facilities or lighting. As more and more people in developing countries migrate into cities from more rural areas, finding effective safety solutions for women and girls becomes increasingly urgent.

In order to frame the context for this challenge, Amplify convened an interdisciplinary group of subject-matter experts and community stakeholders to explore the issues underlying women’s safety. Learn more about these issues and what the experts discussed. The Amplify team will also be sharing research contributions as they learn from women, girls and multidisciplinary experts throughout the Research Phase.

Thought Starters for This Challenge

While there are countless exciting design directions for improving women’s safety in low-income urban areas, here are a few of the opportunity areas that came up during our expert convening that we are particularly excited about: 

  • How might we leverage the population density of low-income urban areas as a catalyst for safety?
  • How might we use existing points of connection – from schools, to bus stops, to marketplaces –  to build community, support and agency among women and girls?
  • How might we engage men and boys in making urban environments safer for women and girls? 
  • How might we use infrastructure – transportation, architecture, sanitation and lighting, for example – to enhance safety and security?

Check out more information and short videos about these opportunity areas.



We trust that everyone will approach our challenge conversation with empathy and respect. With that in mind, we’ve outlined some Guiding Principles for contributing to this challenge – a great place to start if you’re just jumping in.




The  Amplify Program is a five-year joint initiative between OpenIDEO and aimed at making international aid more collaborative and human-centered. Amplify challenges are made possible with funding from the UK Department for International Development.  Learn more.



  Sean Hewens       Nathan Waterhouse

  Shauna Carey     Yennie Lee       



What Does it Mean to be Awarded Funding and Design Support?

In this challenge, we’re approaching our selection process a bit differently as compared to past challenges. As we explained earlier this year, OpenIDEO is re-committing our efforts and ourselves to achieving more impact in the world through the challenges we run and the ideas we create together. One way we’re doing this is through an innovative new collaboration – the Amplify program.

To further enable the implementation of ideas from this challenge, the Amplify team has committed to provide design support and/or funding to a select set of ideas after the challenge ends. More details on how these awards will be determined will be shared in the coming weeks – so stay tuned. For now, we hope each of you is as excited as we are about taking the next step toward iterating how great OpenIDEO challenge ideas get realised. For more information about funding and design support, visit the Amplify FAQ page.

As always on OpenIDEO, we encourage everyone in our community to take ideas forward in some way, either on your own or collaboratively with people in your network – regardless of this whether your idea is awarded Amplify support. After all, at OpenIDEO we strive to be a place where good ideas gain momentum – both via our community and our challenge partners. For more information, visit our About Us and How It Works pages.    

OpenIDEO Cross-Pollinator

This challenge is now over.
768 contributions
572 ideas
572 final ideas
52 final ideas
52 final ideas


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