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Safety audit walk in the Municipality of Centar and the Municipality of Cair

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On November 30, starting at 16.30, a Safety Audit Walk organized by Reactor - Research in Action and UN Women, took place in the Municipality of Centar and the Municipality of Cair.

The idea behind ​​this event is to raise awareness about gender-based violence and to convey the message about the importance of creating mechanisms for dealing with this type of violence.

This walk was attended by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Mila Carovska, who emphasized that it is important for local self-governments to think about the safety of their municipality, and that all types of gender-based violence should be addressed and we should work on preventing them.

"Gender-based violence in Macedonia is a term that is difficult for us to adopt and percieve in a wider aspect and precisely because of this, these safety walks are mostly symbolic and aimed at raising public awareness, but it is also important to walk through parts of the city that are considered less safe and see why they are unsafe and what should be done to make them safer for both women and men, for children and for people with disabilities" said Carovska.

"My message is that this symbolism really needs to motivate direct action by local self governments," she added.

The walk was also attended by Senad Smailovic, Director of JP Ulici i Patista, as well as several representatives of the Municipality of Cair, Municipality of Centar and City of Skopje, representatives of the civil sector and the public administration. The participants had the opportunity to assess the safety of their communities, but also to generate knowledge about the safety of the public spaces and streets we use, as well as map specific dangerous areas that could change the way public spaces are used by women.

"These safety audit walks are important because we can see and map the high risk areas in traffic on the spot" - said Smailovic. In this regard, he added that they plan to introduce fluorescent pedestrian crossings and implement similar activities for a safer city of Skopje and safer traffic.

Safety audit walks are used as tools for gathering information on public perceptions of urban design in order to encourage positive changes for a safer social and physical environment for women. These walks enable evaluation of the safety of a certain municipality according to the opinions, experiences and perceptions of women.

The Safety Audit Walk is implemented within 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaing and is part of a broader study that looks at the extent and the different dimensions of violence against women in public spaces, focusing primarily on women's perceptions for their safety and the impact it has on their lives, the types of violence they have endured, and ultimately, the strategies they have developed to cope with the violence.

Reactor hopes that this practice will be recognized as a successful mechanism for assessing the safety of public spaces and that it will be replicated in other municipalities.

* Photo credit: Vanco Dzambaski.