Empowering the inhabitants to change their culture and expand the areas where recreation can occur to improve everyone's lives and enrich our urban centers
Making urban areas safer and more empowering for women and girls will also create and foster a better environment and culture for everyone. Another way to think of it is that in order to empower women and girls the community must improve the environment and create a better culture. One of the key elements identified as far back as 1968 was the improvement and expansion of parks and recreational areas. The creation of after school programs, parks and gardens greatly improves the community and reduces crime.
One of the issues that Mia Dand seemed to dance around in her research is that the least safe place for women and girls is the home. In order to truly tackle this subject we are going to need to address the fact that about
40% of assaults take place in the home. This is everyone's problem, not just a street problem. To make people feel safe in their neighborhood should be a primary goal of a community. Without a feeling of security the community cannot flourish. Communities are built upon a foundation of shared interests and activities.
This is the park near my home in 2000. It looks much the same 13 years later, although it could use a painting. I'll post a newer picture later
While investigating ways to improve conditions for women and girls one of the things that I kept noticing was that many if not most of the communities where improvements have happend have also seen overall improvements in the community. I kept digging and found an article on
JSTOR.org from 1995. This article listed several improvements in the United States where by creating places for youths to enjoy recreation the communities saw rapid and dramatic decreases in crime. Some of these decreases were in excess of 80%. An underlying theme in these is good starting results, then a lack of funds leading to dissolution of the program and then crime rising and with that the safety of the community goes down.
Another issue that ties to this is disproportionate spending. From the same article I found that middle-class areas in Chicago have 8x the number of activities as those in a lower income area. This hold true for available space to play as well, with 41 acres of park per 1000 citizens in the Loop neighborhood all the way down to half an acre for Chicago's Lower west Side.
In my adopted hometown of Hayward, CA
recent improvements in the downtown area and the revitalization of some of the parks and walkways has created, at least a perception of, a safer environment. In the two years I have lived here the sidewalk in front of my house has gone from a few people during the day on weekends to people at all hours during the weekend and children heading to the recently improved park during the afternoon and evening on weekdays.
I don't believe that these people are new to the neighborhood, in fact most of my neighbors have lived here since before I moved in and I never used to see their children going up to the park alone until recently. When I walk downtown I can see that there are fewer people on street corners and that the over-all cleanliness of the streets has greatly improved. I am interested to see if these improvements result in lowered crime, and specifically if this will have an effect on crimes against females.