OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Reclaiming Public Spaces for Women: The Power of Grassroot Women Organizations around the World

"If public spaces are safe, then the home and everywhere else will be safe" - Huairou Commission I came upon this great article that was published by the Huairou Commission on how grass root women organizations around the world can work to build safer urban environments and reduce violence against women in public spaces. In addition to identifying key challenges to safety that women face in impoverished urban areas, the Huairou Commission has outlined strategies on how grass root women networks can be empowered to make an impact in their cities and neighborhoods.

Photo of Shane Zhao
7 3

Written by

Below is an excerpt of key strategies that the Huairou Commission has launched to empower grassroot women organizations to build safer environments.

Grassroots Women's Strategies and Actions

1. Grassroots Women provide support to one another: Through counseling victims of violence and healing circles women share unbearable experiences of violence while transforming them into collective power (or power with) to change a condition of victim into organizing for change.

2. Grassroots Women organize violence prevention networks at local, national and global levels:
  • At the local level, women transfer knowledge on human rights, decentralized governance structures and use cell phones to alert one another of cases of violence and need for support.
  • At the national level, women advocate for gender equality policies and its due implementation.
  • At the global level, women strengthen their leadership by combining voices and learning from their peers’ experiences. We foster a learning community and believe strongly in the power of peer learning, a kind of learning that builds upon notions of empowerment and popular education.3. Grassroots Women map their communities: Click here to find out more about Safety Audits.
3. Grassroots Women map their communities: Click here to find out more about Safety Audits.

4. Grassroots women hold Local to Local Dialogues After consolidating recommendations from all the other actions, especially the safety audits result, grassroots women organize dialogues with local authorities to incorporate their proposals into policies and or implement existing policies accordingly. 

The original post can be found here:


Join the conversation:

Photo of Meena Kadri

Really like the notion of safety audits created by women in low-income communities. Makes me wonder how these were shared back and used by others in the community. With digital access and literacy being a challenge (as has been discussed in other conversations across our Research phase) it's especially interesting to explore how this kind of information has been shared with communities through initiatives like this one. Maybe you could email them and ask more about this??

Photo of Shane Zhao

That's a great point Meena. I think the Safety Audits are a form of participatory planning where the safety data collected are used towards affecting change in the making of local policies. The grassroots women organizations work directly with local authorities to create safer neighborhoods. Your point about how that research is shared with the broader community is a good one. It would be great to have a website where all the safety data collected can be accessed by everyone. I'll email the Huairou Commission and update this post with more information!

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great Shane. (though keep in mind that putting everything from a safety audit online does not reach *everyone* in a low-income context. We're looking forward to folks coming up with creatively relevant concepts on this kind of information for our Ideas phase, starting this week. Hope to see you there!)

Photo of Shane Zhao

Thanks Meena! Yes, it is definitely key to consider non-digital ways of sharing information in communities that have limited access to the web. I'll look forward to sharing some solutions in the Idea phase.

Photo of DeletedUser


Hi Meena,

Glad to see that the Huairou Commission's groups of grassroots women are getting some visibility here! Just to respond to your question, grassroots women in our network use our Local to Local Methodology, which is a set of strategies that allows them to dialogue and partner with their communities traditional leaders, and local authorities. As part of the safety audit process, they hold community consultations in order to share all of their findings and come up with collective recommendations. Through our submission here, we're hoping to strengthen the process of consolidating the maps that are generated through safety audits, and make it easier to see the connection between budgets specifically allocated to the built environment, and areas in the community that need improvement.

Let me know if you'd like additional information about our work, I'm the focal person on safety here at the Huairou Commission!


Photo of Meena Kadri

Super helpful info. Thanks, Rachael!

View all comments