Elsa Marie D’Silva

The ‘Nirb­haya’ in­ci­dent was the trig­ger that made D’Silva take up women’s is­sues.

Business Today - - CONTENTS - BY P. B. JAYAKUMAR

How safe is a city street or an eatery or a pub or any other pub­lic place for women out on their own? Sex­ual bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment on the streets or in other pub­lic spa­ces have grown alarm­ingly but now the is­sue can be tack­led more ef­fec­tively, go­ing by what Elsa Marie D’Silva, Founder and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of Red Dot Foun­da­tion, is do­ing.

D’Silva gave up a lu­cra­tive ca­reer in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try when she started Red Dot in De­cem­ber 2012. Soon the foun­da­tion came up with SafeCity – an In­ter­net plat­form that crowd­sources re­ports of ha­rass­ment and as­sault in pub­lic places, ag­gre­gates the data and cre­ates lo­cal maps that high­light the hot spots of gen­der-based vi­o­lence. The data and the maps en­able in­di­vid­u­als, com­mu­ni­ties and lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion to iden­tify the fac­tors that trig­ger such vi­o­lence and work on so­lu­tions. SafeCity has gath­ered over 10,000 such in­ci­dents from more than 50 cities in In­dia, Kenya, Cameroon and Nepal.

D’Silva was at­tend­ing a Swedish man­age­ment pro­gramme on women’s is­sues when the in­fa­mous Nirb­haya in­ci­dent took place in Delhi where a young woman was gang-raped in a bus and later died. ‘Nirb­haya’ was the key trig­ger that made her take up women’s is­sues.

Her or­gan­i­sa­tion started with a `10 lakh grant from Tata Trusts. Last year it spent `35 lakh and the bud­get this year is `50 lakh.

SafeCity is also ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple on street vi­o­lence against women and con­duct­ing aware­ness pro­grammes on laws and safety op­tions. It has a team of 500-plus vol­un­teers to carry out th­ese ini­tia­tives and part­ners with cor­po­rate houses for cre­at­ing aware­ness.

“So far, we have reached out to four lakh peo­ple, held 8,000 work­shops and cre­ated an e-learn­ing mo­d­ule,” says D’Silva. The or­gan­i­sa­tion is now ex­pand­ing glob­ally, go­ing to Nige­ria and Trinidad and Tobago. That is quite sig­nif­i­cant as women across the globe are com­ing for­ward to re­claim their right to live with­out vi­o­la­tion and vi­o­lence. ~

ELSA MARIE D’SILVA Co- founder, Red Dot Foun­da­tion ( SafeCity project)

WHY SHE MAT­TERS She has de­vel­oped an In­ter­net plat­form that crowd­sources in­ci­dents of abuse in pub­lic places and helps iden­tify the hot spots.

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