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The idea of making the discussion the "secondary" focus is a great way to approach women who would otherwise not participate. Studying how women interact with their public spaces in a particular community is key as well. For example is you find they gather at a park with their children, you could approach them there, where they feel at ease and also where they are directly engaging with the topic you are trying to study. Showing them how their contribution has a direct impact on their environment and/or their children's might also encourage participation. You could show examples of the positive effects of direct participation by women in designing public spaces. Also, I think identifying a leader among the women will also be key to having women participate. In every community there is always at least one woman who is willing to voice her opinion louder than the rest and identifying this person and enlisting them to promote a dialogue would also increase engagement. Something else to consider, is holding separate meetings with men in the community and asking them similar questions to the women would help; especially if the men's thoughts were passed on to the women and they had a chance to hear what the men thought and agree/disagree. This might also promote, in an all women atmosphere some, a dialogue.
I think this buddy- system is great. It could be a variation of the systems used in University Campuses around the US, where students volunteer to walk people home from the library to their dorm if it is late at night.
1. In terms of the “hub” I don’t think these need to be created, I think already established legitimate places should act as the hub. Places such as churches, schools, community centers, etc that are close to transportation routes. This would decrease behavioural risks associated with creating a new space. It would also guarantee that the place is respected and not vandalized since it already carries some sort of community legitimacy. This already created hub, could; however, be updated if needed, lighting added, surveillance installed, etc. 2. I think using sms based system would be excellent. Ushahidi is great, also a system like crowdring, where a missed called to a number could signal that you need someone to walk you home. 3. In terms of incentives for using the cell phones to promote their uptake; perhaps just removing the cost would be enough to promote its use. If we provide a free texting system then people especially in low income areas would be more likely to use it. Or in turn if you become a volunteer, and walk people home then you could receive phone credit. 4. The question of “trust” I think is an important one, but perhaps this could be bypassed if it is promoted by a legitimate community institution.