Women’s Safety and Public Spaces: Lessons from the Sabarmati Riverfront, India

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Women’s Safety and Public Spaces: Lessons from the Sabarmati Riverfront, India


  • Darshini Mahadevia School of Arts and Sciences, Ahmedabad University, India
  • Saumya Lathia Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, USA


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Abstract:  The Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 11, as well as the New Urban Agenda, emphasize gender equity and safe, resilient, and inclusive cities. The ‘safe cities’ idea for women includes their equal right to the city and public places within it, which includes their right to be mobile in the city at any time of the day, as well as their right to loiter in public spaces without any threats of harassment or sexual violence. These issues have gained importance in urban planning and design in contemporary India. This article is an assessment of how safe Ahmedabad city’s largest public space, the Sabarmati Riverfront, is for women. Ahmedabad, a city in western India, has long carried an image of a safe city for women. The Sabarmati Riverfront is over 22 km in length, 11 km on both sides of the river. This assessment is made through mapping of space use disaggregated by sex and age at four different time points throughout the day and of 100 women’s accounts of the experience of harassment on using the space. The article concludes with specific recommendations on proposed activities and space design along the riverfront to make these spaces safe for women throughout the day.

Keywords:  gender; harassment; India; public space; riverfront; safety; women

Published:   30 June 2019


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v4i2.2049


© Darshini Mahadevia, Saumya Lathia. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.