Continuous and widespread Violence Against Women (VAW) in urban India highlights challenges in India’s cities. The UN Sustainable Development Goals seek to address these challenges through the call for gender equality (SDG 5) and safe and inclusive cities and communities (SDG 11). Notably, through ensuring urban planning and infrastructure is safe, accessible, affordable and sustainable and universal access to safe public spaces, particularly for traditionally marginalised groups such as women. Combined with this is an acute information and skills gap in technology use amongst urban poor women that impedes empowered use of urban infrastructures.
Despite urban governance drives to use digital technologies in the age of the ‘smart city’ to make cities inclusive and safe (for example through increased use of CCTV cameras), risks of VAW are still prevalent and women in low-income communities are systematically excluded from access to digital technologies such as smartphones. These exclusions are not just due to lack of affordability or digital literacy but due to deeply embedded cultural norms around the influence of technology. which may prevent women from being able to access the internet for empowerment, for example social mobilisation, grievance redressal or seeking paid labour opportunities. By showing how women are excluded from multiple forms of infrastructures – both digital and analogue – our exhibition shows the disconnect between gender and technology.
This exhibition, funded by the British Academy and implemented by King’s College London, London School of Economics and Safetipin, will bring to life our project findings and materials from two cities in Kerala and to illustrate the linkages between disconnected infrastructures and VAW and help us understand how to imagine the smart safe city in India. Through photographs and digital media, we present the narratives and imaginaries of women in low-income neighbourhoods and how they experience and navigate the city at different scales through different types of infrastructures. We also present a series of visual graphics and maps that illustrate different perceptions of infrastructure and safety in the city, through digitally gathered data using the Safetipin app.
In this exhibition we present projections of immersive digital Storymaps offering an interactive experience of exploring the (dis)connectedness between physical and digital infrastructures of cities in India and understand the links with VAW.
We also present a range of overlapping maps of the city across different scales highlighted in a flowchart diagram; ‘mental maps’ developed by research participants; interview narratives; infrastructure connectivity and safety scores on each city. Audiences can interact with each map by tracing the everyday routes and experiences of women in the city.
The exhibition aims to provoke participants to reflect upon cultural perceptions of safety, gender, infrastructure and the overall gendered urban experience in the Indian city.
Just economics and politics? Think again. While LSE does not teach arts or music, there is a vibrant cultural side to the School - from weekly free music concerts in the Shaw Library, and an LSE orchestra and choir with their own professional conductors, various film, art and photographic student societies, the annual LSE photo prize competition, the LSE Festival and artist-in-residence projects. For more information please view the LSE Arts website.