For over a century, people across the globe celebrate March 8th as International Women’s Day and the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. This year’s theme for International Women’s day is ‘Be Bold for Change’ – and change is definitely called for. The world needs to raise its collective voice against gender bias, inequality and violence against women. We also need to give more encouragement for women’s advancement, celebrate their achievements and champion the cause of women’s education.
Closer home and the ground realities in India, working women need to know they can live, work and yes – entertain, peacefully and safely. Far from raising it for change, the voice of countless working women in India is stifled under the pressures of a daily work commute and the responsibility of managing their households. Not all residential locations are created equal – and certainly not for women in our largest metros like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune.
To identify the relatively safer and more convenient areas where women can live, work and relax in relative peace in these cities, we focus on some critical operative real estate factors, such as:
· Proximity to work places and shopping areas
· Proximity to schools
· Safety at home and during commute
· Adequate commuting options
· Good healthcare facilities
· Reasonably priced housing
· Healthy, green environment
Some locations have themselves been agents of change. Thane in Mumbai, for example, has evolved over the years from being a largely industrial hub to a location that sports large IT/ITes offices, offers a variety of malls and supermarkets, has reasonably priced housing within self-sufficient housing complexes, ample green cover and decent healthcare amenities.
Thane’s proximity to the BKC CBD has also enhanced after the opening of the Eastern Expressway, resulting in it becoming a location of choice for many working women in MMR today. Other locations which have evolved from humbler identities to become cosmopolitan hubs include Gurgaon in NCR and parts of Whitefield in Bangalore.
The changes in most cases present veritable case studies of improving social infrastructure that support women who seek a healthy work life / home life balance. They have developed in a manner that aligns with the growing demands of an ever-increasing women workforce.
Safety, especially for single working and senior citizen women, is a growing cause for concern in Indian cities. Not all new urban centres which have evolved on the periphery of the older cities can call themselves truly safe places for women. A lot more needs to be done by town planning and law enforcement agencies to ensure that women working late night shifts and single working and senior citizen women need not fear for their safety.