As part of the month of Non-Violence Against Women, the citizen collectives Catcalls of DR, Jane’s Walk SD and Santo Domingo En Bici are organizing the first festival in the Dominican Republic to promote safe public spaces free of violence against women and girls. The festival, entitled ‘Equality Transforms the City’, will be held from November 4 to 26 this year, with the support of the Cultural Center of Spain.
In this first edition, the collaborating groups and institutions, both public and private, invite citizens to participate throughout this month in eight activities that call for reflection and action against the violence suffered by women and girls in public spaces, resulting in the limitation of the right to the city, that is, to access and enjoy all the goods and services it offers.
“Women and girls live in silence a reality very different from that of men when they transit the public space. Every step we take translates into a new possibility of experiencing a different kind of harassment from the stranger on the next corner; that is not freedom, it is living in fear until we can get home. That is why we devised this festival, with the intention of approaching from citizen action to the redesign of a city designed with a gender perspective, that is, a city built on equality and equity for all”, explained Rosalía Piña, social communicator and co-founder of the Catcalls Of DR movement.
Among the activities planned for the festival are: a discussion on how to make the streets safer, an exploratory walk to audit public spaces, workshops on denormalizing street sexual harassment and new masculinities, the screening of the documentary ‘Citizen Jane: Battle for the city’, the women’s and girls’ bike ride, and a tactical urbanism action to rescue and make Carmen de Mendoza street safer. The closing of the festival will feature a concert by artists Hilka Acosta, Mamá Tambor and Nikola Santiago.
“A city in which women and girls can develop freely is a better city for everyone, safer, more accessible, more cohesive and with fewer risks to life,” said Laura Bogaert, urban cyclist and member of the Santo Domingo En Bici collective.
The organizing collectives are committed to empowering citizens about the problems of our environment: “The city is built by all of us, not just the public sector as is often thought. It is important to raise awareness and motivate society to be active spectators of the situations that occur in the streets of our own city,” said Shaolin Saint-Hilaire of Jane’s Walk SD.
Several public and private entities are also collaborating in this initiative such as the Association of Resident Property Owners of the Colonial City (APRECC), the Cinemateca, the School of Architecture and Urbanism of the UNPHU and the bike rental company Zona Bici, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
In this first edition of the festival the collectives have focused on safety for girls and women in public spaces, however, they confirm that each year will be held under a different focus on cities and women’s experiences, always following the vision that equality transforms the city.