On 29 March 2023, the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) organised the third and final webinar in their series ‘Building Safe and Accessible Cities’ in collaboration with the Institute for Transport and Development Policy (ITDP) titled ‘Enhancing safety in public transportation systems to foster inclusive cities’.
This session aimed to acknowledge different perspectives of safety and security when it comes to women and persons with disabilities in our cities, as well as identify ways to integrate into policies and practice. Since the urban population in India is fast growing, it is especially important to have these conversations now — specifically with regards to public transportation systems and its accessibility to vulnerable populations.
Our Founder and Executive Director Nidhi Goyal spoke on a panel along with representatives from Sagar Smart City; Meghna Sahoo, the Secretary at All Odisha Transgender Association; Ms. Mamta Kohli, Senior Advisor, FCDO; Kalpana Viswanath, Safetipin; and Ms. Sneha Vishakha the Research Fellow at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.
“Accessing public spaces is a right for everyone,” said Nidhi — but highlighted that it is also important to ask: who is this right really for?
She also underlined the fact that there is a tremendous level of anxiety for people with disabilities when planning trips, which comes from inaccessibility and safety issues.
Access and accessibility must be put on the forefront of the discussion, which includes shattering stereotypes and stigma as well, Nidhi explained. She also mentioned that when we talk about disability inclusion, we must also focus on the intersection of gender and disability: such as with accessible public toilets.
Finally, Nidhi said that while it is important that we have cities that diverse groups can access, it is also critical that we should not start using safety as an excuse for surveillance. She spoke about how it is important to have women, people with disabilities, and other marginalised groups at the table.
During the Question and Answer session, she spotlighted an important point: “We don’t live in silos,” talking about how systems overall need to change.