(Dis)Connected Infrastructures and Violence against Women (VAW)

Photo: Ayona Datta

Continuous and widespread Violence Against Women (VAW) in urban India highlight the challenge of delivering SDGs 5 and 11-gender equality and safe, sustainable, inclusive cities.

In particular, women in low-income urban neighbourhoods face increased sexual and physical assaults during access to and use of connected infrastructures (eg. water, toilets, transport, walkways), which also highlight the challenge of delivering SDG 6 – clean water and sanitation to all.

Combined with this is an acute information and skills gap in technology use amongst these women that impedes their knowledgeable and empowered engagement with social and material assemblages of urban infrastructures.

This project will take a rights based approach to the challenge: How to address VAW by improving women’s knowledge of and safe access to urban infrastructure in the Indian city. We will use innovations in digital technology and open source mapping, co-produced with societal partners, to collect big data on infrastructural blindspots, and deep data on VAW through participatory mapping of infrastructure use.

Innovating Digital Technologies

This project will test the potential of innovative digital technologies in addressing the infrastructural ‘blindspots’ that risk the safety and well-being of women in low income neighbourhoods in two cities – Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. Despite higher gender development indices than other cities of India, women’s safety in these cities has relatively low scores. Understanding VAW as infrastructural violence, this project has the following objectives:

  • Develop ways to analyse ‘big data’ generated specifically to connect knowledge of urban infrastructures to VAW
  • Conduct digital ethnography that explores how big data is generated, represented and represents the ‘safe city’ through algorithms
  • Generate ‘deep data’ on links between VAW and access to infrastructure at neighbourhood-level as a basis for innovating digital technologies on this issue
  • Develop the skills and capacity of women in low income neighbourhoods in using digital technologies for knowledgeable engagement with urban infrastructure that would lead to freedom from violence.

This project is being funded by the British Academy under the British Academy Cities & Infrastructure research funding programme, part of its Global Challenges Research Fund. Details of the programme and other awardees can be found here.


King’s College London

London School of Economics

Fore School of Management