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Community Scorecards for Women's Safety

A project to bring communities in Zimbabwe together – residents, service providers and local governments – to identify safety issues using a scorecard system and prioritize action. [Summary by the Amplify Team]

Photo of Catherine Makoni and Nyarai Mutongwizo
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Provide a short description of your idea

My idea is a community score card (CSC) toolkit that enables community members, service providers and local government to prioritise actions and solutions to address women and girls’ safety issues. It tackles the problem of insecurity among women and girls resulting from poor delivery of public services like street lighting, running water and unclear public road sides. It addresses the problem by providing an interface mechanism where service users and local government jointly generate solutions and work in partnership to implement and track the effectiveness of solutions to enhance the safety of women and girls ***** In many urban areas of Zimbabwe women fear for their safety: broken street lights and derelict public toilets are just two of many factors which contribute to fear and insecurity for women. It is the responsibility of the authorities to ensure that towns are safe for women and girls, but they often do not understand or respond to women’s needs. Years of unemployment and urban decay have broken down the structures needed for vibrant civic participation. We propose a community score card on women’s safety that will prioritise and highlight women’s needs and concerns. This simple tool creates the basis for discussion with authorities in order to jointly propose, prioritise and monitor solutions, and empower women to participate in public life.

Show us what implementation might look like.

Rough implementation outline is uploaded

~~The Community Monitoring Score Card (CSC) is a participatory tool that brings together community members, service providers, and local government to identify service utilization and provision challenges, to mutually generate solutions, and work in partnership to implement and track the effectiveness of those solutions in an ongoing process of quality improvement. The CSC has been used with success by communities in Zimbabwe to monitor general service delivery; our idea is to adapt the tool for use on monitoring the safety of women and girls, using international benchmarks for urban safety, and generate solutions through dialogue between citizens and councils. Women and men, boys and girls will be trained in the use of community monitoring score cards and selected women will be primarily responsible for monitoring the provision of services which facilitate women’s safety.

In the first phase of the project, the community will define what their priority issues are and what the barriers to accessing services are. In a series of facilitated workshops, women and girls will be taken through a process of prioritizing key issues, allocating a score for each issue and giving reasons for each score. For example, if street lighting or police presence is highlighted, the group will identify the change they want to see and rank it in terms of importance: how much of a risk do they perceive a lack of lighting or lack of policing is to their safety on a scale of 1-5. The process will be repeated with groups of men and boys, to obtain their perspectives on key issues and highlight the fact that safety is an issue for the whole community, not just women. Women and girls will take final decisions on the key issues which are prioritised.

The second phase will involve a facilitated process for service providers who are also taken through the process of prioritizing issues, developing their own indicators and scoring against each indicator; they will also identify what they perceive to be barriers to service provision, such as lack of resources or lack of cooperation from others. In the 3rd and final phase, the community and service providers will be brought together and in a negotiated process, they will agree priority issues for improvement, develop a workplan for addressing the issues and agree on monitoring and timeframes.

The process will raise women’s confidence, build community trust and ultimately reduce fear and insecurity, as the multiple stakeholders begin to work together to address the identified priority issues for women’s safety. This is the first time in Zimbabwe that the CSC will be used to monitor issues of women’s safety.

Explain your idea in one sentence.

The idea is to train women and men in the use of community monitoring scorecards, enabling them to take the lead in prioritising and monitoring the safety and security of women and girls in their town, and giving them the tools to hold service providers such as their local authority and the police to account.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

Women in poor urban areas of Zimbabwe face frequent threats to their safety. Poor street lighting and intermittent provision of electricity exposes women to violent attacks; in many cases fear confines them to their homes, especially after dark. Poor maintenance of open spaces is evident from the long uncut grass, poor road maintenance and poor footpaths, making movement difficult and unsafe for women. This limits women’s mobility and potential to earn a living. Poor water and sanitation provision is not only a health issue, but also a safety issue as women and girls have to contend with communal toilets, bathrooms and water collection points. This creates vulnerability for women and girls, especially at night. 72% of the population of Zimbabwe is living in poverty, and unemployment has been estimated to be as high as 95% owing to closure of industries due to Zimbabwe’s economic decline. Poverty and lack of knowledge of their rights often contributes to disempowerment of poor women and communities who do not feel entitled to constitutionally guaranteed protections; therefore, they do not believe they have a right to demand improved services. Distrust between communities and service providers contributes to women’s perception and experience of powerlessness, vulnerability and fear.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

All residents of the selected urban area, but particularly women and girls, will benefit from this idea. The CSC in itself will enable us, and the community, to monitor the success of the project. The community will use the score cards on a regular basis to measure change (eg has policing improved and therefore can a lower/higher score on policing be allocated?) and advise whether the project is having an impact or not. Service providers will also keep score in terms of issues they want the community to support them with, e.g, are there increased reports of crime from the community to the police as a result of the CSC? Regular interface meetings will be held with the multiple stakeholders which besides helping with project objectives, also contributes to building trust between community and service providers.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

The Poverty Reduction Forum Trust, supported by CAFOD, would implement this idea. The Poverty Reduction Forum Trust has extensive experience working with and in poor and excluded communities in Zimbabwe monitoring the impact of policies on the poorest and most vulnerable. This experience is essential for working in the targeted communities. PRFT in their work also bring together communities and service providers to negotiate and agree solutions to challenges facing communities. CAFOD has already conducted research into the challenges with service provision in urban Zimbabwe and during this process built relationships with service providers.

Where should this idea be implemented?

Initially in 1 town in Zimbabwe (a pilot phase), with subsequent roll out to urban areas across the country.

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

The project would start by piloting the CSC in one city or town. In this phase the project would draw on international standards for safer cities to help in facilitating discussions with the multiple stakeholders. This pilot phase would be monitored for effectiveness and based on the learning from this initial pilot phase, a manual will be developed and a programme of roll out across Zimbabwe would be designed and implemented.

What might a day in the life of a community member interacting with your idea look like?

Women and girls (as well as men and boys) will be formed into groups in the initial phases of this project to identify their key safety needs and concerns - in the form of 1-2 hour workshops. Later on in the project, women and girls who have shown interest and leadership potential will be engaged in meetings with service providers to negotiate and prioritise changes in their communities; they will meet regularly on an ongoing basis to monitor those changes and hold their service providers to account. The timings and lengths of all meetings and workshops will take account of women's domestic responsibilities and safety concerns (eg not being held late at night and requiring women to walk or travel long distances in the dark).

Evaluation results

2 evaluations so far

1. Does this idea have the potential to impact the lives of low-income women and girls living in urban areas?

Yes, the idea clearly targets low-income women and girls living in urban areas. - 100%

The idea targets women and girls but isn’t necessarily focused on those living in low-income urban areas. - 0%

The idea targets people living in low-income urban areas but doesn’t seem to benefit women and girls specifically. - 0%

2. Does this idea describe a set of next steps and a timeline to accomplish them?

The idea clearly outlines next steps, the resources and team needed to execute them and a timeline to accomplish this. - 100%

The idea gives a broad explanation of what it hopes to accomplish but there is no clear timeline or activities to reach its desired goal. - 0%

The idea has not clearly articulated what the next steps are. - 0%

3. How feasible would it be to implement a pilot of this idea in the next 12-18 months?

Very feasible – the next steps described in the contribution seem achievable in this time period. - 100%

A pilot appears feasible but more work needs to be done to figure out how it would be executed. - 0%

The idea is not ready to be piloted yet – the concept needs several more months of user feedback and prototyping to be ready for a pilot. - 0%

4. Does this idea bring a new and fresh approach to the city or region in which it’s set?

Yes, this idea appears to be new and innovative! I’m not aware of other ideas in this city or region that address this need using a similar approach. - 50%

There are other initiatives doing similar work in this area – but this idea targets a new group or has an updated approach. - 50%

I can think of many initiatives addressing the same need using a similar approach in the same region. - 0%

5. How scalable is this idea across regions and cultures?

This is an idea that could help women and girls in many different cities. I can see it being implemented across multiple regions and cultures. - 100%

Maybe but I’d imagine it would need very significant changes. - 0%

The idea is really only suited for one specific region / population. - 0%

6. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

I love this idea! - 100%

I liked it but preferred others. - 0%

It didn't get me so excited. - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Julia Cerrud

Hello Catherine & Nyarai, I came accross your project while doing some research. Have you piloted or protyped the scorecards? If you have and you could share them plus provide some input on the results and findings I would be very happy as I came accross this project while doing some research for another project on situational prevention in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico which I am coordinating.

I believe that what you are suggesting is very similar to the CPTED methodology which is an situational crime and violence prevention methodology and has some very concise diagnostic tools such as the safety exploratory march and the victimization and fear survey which help map crime and violence issues around a community, the caveat to these tools is the fact that they dont provide a concise route for prioritizing solutions that your scorecard proposes. I would love it if you could share a bit more about how you came up with the scoring process and how do you avoid leaning towards x or y direction.


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