Dr Anna Barker featured in Yorkshire Post on International Women’s Day 2023
“This year’s International Women’s Day focus is on ‘Embracing Equity’ – challenging us to move beyond “equal opportunities” to the more inclusive and real-life idea of ‘equity’."
School of Law Associate Professor in Criminal Justice and Criminology Dr Anna Barker has written an OpEd for the Yorkshire Post on her work around the safety of women and girls in parks and green spaces for International Womens’ Day.
This year’s International Women’s Day focus is on ‘Embracing Equity’ – challenging us to move beyond “equal opportunities” to the more inclusive and real-life idea of ‘equity’. Whilst parks and public spaces are open to all there is still a long way to go to make sure they are used and experienced as safe places by everyone.
This piece stems from research led by Dr Barker and Professor George Holmes, Professor of Conservation and Society at the School of Earth and Environment, who are currently working on in-depth guidance to make parks and public spaces safer and more accessible for women and girls.
The work, which is being carried out alongside Keep Britain Tidy and Make Space for Girls, follows a report funded by Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin, into what makes a park feel safe or unsafe.
Keeping women and girls safe is my number one priority for policing in West Yorkshire. That’s why I asked the University of Leeds to speak to women and girls across our region, to hear their views and concerns so we can make our public parks as safe as possible.
The report found that parks in West Yorkshire should be better designed and managed so that women and girls feel safe throughout the day and after dark.
The research team spoke to more than 100 women and girls from across the county and found most of them believed felt their local parks were unsafe. More than half felt they were very unsafe.
Their report concluded that feeling vulnerable in parks is a barrier that needs to be urgently addressed to ensure that women and girls feel able to use, enjoy and benefit from them.
Dr Barker said: “There are lots of barriers to getting women into parks – access barriers, time barriers, and things like caring responsibilities. But the presence of women opens up the space for other women. That’s the positive message: parks that have more people in them feel safer.”
Click here to visit the Yorkshire Post website and read Dr Barker's piece in full.
Click here to visit the University of Leeds website to read more about research into designing parks to help women feel safe.