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What safety hazards do you see in your community that affect men more than women?

As the Research phase wraps up, one question lingers.

Photo of Karolle Rabarison
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When the Research phase got under way, my first move was to turn to my peers ­– young social-sector professionals with field experience in low-income communities of the developing world – for thoughts on what we mean by "safe" and instances when they've felt particularly unsafe. I also posed the final question in the OpenIDEO  Interview ToolkitWhat safety hazards do you see in your community that affect men more than women? 

The responses ranged from "I can't think of anything" to the different ways a community enables men to become safety hazards – including psychological pressures around the idea of "masculinity," limited public space for activities such as pick-up sports (leading to idle time, leading to men becoming a safety hazard), etc.

I'm still struggling to come up with my own concrete example to answer this question.

Have you used this same question in your interviews? How have people responded?


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Photo of Meena Kadri

Street-level theft is something that's been mentioned across a number of discussion on the challenge. I also have spoken to men who manage isolated late night stalls / kirana shops in low-income areas in Mumbai who have faced threats to their safety via theft. Plus have had male friends who have shared stories of being attacked on trains at night (again theft).

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From what I recall when brining up safety topics, issues of personal theft in crowded places seems to be number one concern.

Photo of Karolle Rabarison

Right – in my own conversations, when asked to describe a time when they felt unsafe, male friends – after thinking for a bit – always described instances when they feared theft. (Women face risk of theft as well; it's just not their worst fear.)

What I'm trying to get at though is slightly different. Not examples of when men feel unsafe, but examples of characteristics/features/situations in a community that endanger men's safety more than women's. The specific setting of an isolated kirana shop at night fits I think – it's a specific hazard to men since a woman wouldn't be in the position of managing that shop so late by herself.

The kirana shop just made me recall a write-up about men's v. women's longevity that I read forever ago. Can't remember hard details, except that many of the risks men faced tended to be related to profession in one way or another.