Leveraging Law and Policy for Change
by Vandita Morarka
Curated by Vandita Morarka
You’ve gotten to know our team, we’re bringing you this series so that you can get to know our work better too. We explore the different verticals of our work through the lens of the people leading them.
I’ve been engaged with Safecity for over two years now, the work is absolutely brilliant and is driving change in communities internationally. I started as the first Youth Outreach Coordinator for Safecity in Mumbai and then transitioned into the role of the first Policy, Legal and United Nations Liaison Officer at Safecity, where I currently lead a four member team. It makes me so happy to reflect on how the work of the Policy and Legal team is contributing to the movement that Safecity is, as we gear for the launch of our app.
The team is relatively young, having started in October last year, we’re just about completing a year now (Yay!). Starting off with a big shoutout to the fabulous, fabulous team: Sanaya Patel, Soyra Gune, Immanuel Adriana Rakshana, and Nikunj Morarka, who are the driving force behind all the work that we do and to ex team members: Luisa Marb, Shripriya Bansal, Mansi Lalwani, and Rakesh Bandi, for their continued support and efforts!
Our work supplements the work of other teams within Safecity by working towards building policy and legal changes to support the on-ground, data driven or digital advocacy based changes other teams are working on. We are driven by the need to build in sustainable systemic changes that outlast us. The team has been involved in several interesting projects over the past year, throwing light on some of them here:
We’ve undertaken two key policy based projects to drive policy changes through data. We undertook audits of three Railway stations and three street markets in Mumbai. You can find the reports here and here. The Railway Report was referred for action by Suresh Prabhu, ex Union Minister for Railways and the CM Office Maharashtra received the Street Market report submission. Our work on these projects has also been covered by Sweden TV. Alongside, through these audits we’ve reached out to 1500+ persons and created awareness of gender issues, sexual violence, related laws and bystander intervention strategies.
Our team has out together a Legal Resources section, available on our website, that explains sexual violence related laws in an easy to understand Q&A format along with details on how to access legal aid and file an FIR. The toolkit has received commendation from authors, senior international lawyers and users. We’re also constantly working on adding case laws and updated legal information to this section to make it even easier to access justice and information.
We use a host of techniques to build awareness, apart from the projects mentioned. We’ve partnered with SheThePeople.TV and are hosting Legal Roundtables in Mumbai, Pune and Delhi. These Roundtables help us reach young persons and create an empowering environment for them to understand their rights from experts from organisations like Thomson Reuters, I Will Go Out, KrantiKali, Hans Siedel Foundation and so on. Additionally we work with the students towards a solution-based dialogue. So far we’ve held two Roundtables and have had about 300 persons attend. We also work on designing workshop content on related laws and use our blog space for awareness through writing. Our weekly newswrap provides a watch on sexual violence related news every week.
The team also provides advisory support to other internal teams and others, externally, who may reach out to us – in all areas of law and policy.
We have a very active research culture. Especially one that is aimed at reaching more and more individuals and not confining itself to a purely academic audience. Our team members often undertake research projects that examine various gender related dynamics. Some ongoing research projects are looking at how our work can be a model for increasing access for women in virtual spaces and where gender equity training is at in India right now.
We’re also focused on developing leaders in this sector, towards that we’re also focused on internal capacity building and mentoring for all our members. Each member is taken through a comprehensive training program according to their tailored needs and we learn to build innovative policy and legal based solutions together.
How do we use the app to leverage this?
A lot of the policy and legal work is driven by data and partnerships. The app will open avenues for more people to assess their areas, check for infrastructural provisions that make areas unsafe, form communities for building conversations and most importantly, it will help people organise for action. It will help them take evidence to governments and demand accountability and correction. Systems don’t change till people don’t question the system – we hope the app helps you do just that!
The same team works on projects with and for different United Nations bodies, stay tuned in here for more details on that soon!
Connect with us?
Write in to email@example.com with feedback and queries and to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to connect on our policy and legal work. You can now download our app on Android and iOS systems – let’s make spaces safer together!