There is no city or country in the world where women and girls live free of the fear of violence. Walt Whitman (1819-1892), American poet, essayist and journalist, said, “Where women walk in public processions in the streets the same as the men, where they enter the public assembly and take places the same as the men; there the great city stands.”
The International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 to ensure that policy makers recognise the importance of equality to end all forms of violence and discrimination against women through good laws. This year’s theme “Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!” envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
The designs of our cities and neighbourhoods as well as the various urban functions reflect our culture, values, lifestyle and relationships. Long confined to domestic activities, women have gradually moved into public arena. The urban setting must adapt to this cultural and social change, and cities must now deal with the realities of women.
The city is important for both working and nonworking women. So, development of new policies and revisions of the policymaking process are crucial to meet women’s needs and ensure their full participation in the process of development as a complete citizen. Planners and architects have developed design guidelines and rules to build women-friendly communities. But, often these guidelines are overlooked or just ignored during the planning process.
 Women-friendly cities are defined as: An Inclusion, convenience and safety place where women can grow, prosper, and participate effectively in developing their city. Therefore, the participation of women in the planning process is crucial.
The condition of women in India has always been a matter of grave concern. Since the past several centuries, Indian women were never given equal status and opportunities as compared to men. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 34 per cent of women in Odisha experience physical violence.
Women’s fear of violence and crime affects their lifestyle and routines and the way they experience urban areas and the public realm in particular. They are more likely to be pedestrians and require access to public transport. So, the design of neighbourhoods for safety in and around the home and from the home to transit stops and facilities is paramount.
When a designers design a house, neighbourhood or a town, they must make many decisions about how to solve problems of women. Women safety in public spaces is a major issue in today’s world as most women do not find public places safe. Women’s experience of safety in urban areas is different to that of men. Urban settings and the way they are designed affect levels of fear which are higher among women.
Communities can take up responsibilities and play a role in improving the situation of women by designing safe public spaces for women. Besides, Municipal governments have a role to play in helping women enter the decision-making process. Equal representation is certainly one way to ensure that the needs of men and women will be addressed in municipal planning and management.
All cities should be inclusive, convenient and safe cities for women. Inclusive by helping women fully access and participate in the social, cultural, economic and political life of the city. Convenient by adapting the urban infrastructures and services to women’s needs in a fashion that embraces their nature, social role and schedule. Safe by creating a safe urban environment for women to allow them regain their right to the city.
There are specific planning and design requirements for land uses and settings to reduce women’s higher levels of fear. Such requirements include residential areas, public open space, public toilets and telephones, hospitals and other large institutions. The particular requirement for residential uses is to ensure safety of women who are more likely to live alone and occupy the house during the day when others are not around by designing for maximum surveillance of the street, providing adequate privacy and discouraging access by intruder.
Women’s Safety Audits (WSAs) can help build safer communities. A women’s safety audit is a simple and effective way to find out from women about aspects and places in the community that pose obstacles to safety and access.
The WSAs are a participatory method of assessing the safety and accessibility of a city and its public spaces for women. It is a simple process of walking through a space and assessing factors that lead to unsafety/safety. The safety walks are conducted before and after dark to see how public spaces are transformed at night. Essentially participatory in character, they identify spaces that are unsafe and the factors causing lack of safety or exclusion. The WSAs build upon the notion that the users of a space are the experts and, thus, have the knowledge to find solutions to the problems they face.
The right to the city refers to a rights-based approach to building inclusive cities. The inclusive city has four dimensions – economic, social, political and cultural. The fundamental principle of the right to the city is that human rights are interdependent and indivisible. Women have a right to the city. Women’s active participation will make an inclusive, convenient and safe city for them.



The National Science Day was celebrated with great enthusiasm on February 28 to commemorate the invention of the Raman Effect in India by Indian physicist Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman the same day in 1928. The day offers an opportunity to bring issues of science for humanity. The theme for the day 2015 was “Science for Nation Building”.
Science and technology is a key driver for sustainable and economic growth of a city. Smart Cities in the developed world are formulating technology master plans and then using these plans to develop a citywide command and control network that monitors and optimises delivery of services like power, water, traffic and healthcare. The concept of a Smart City is a relatively new one.
People migrate to cities primarily in search of employment and economic activities beside better quality of life. Therefore, a Smart City for its sustainability needs to offer economic activities and employment opportunities to residents, regardless of their level of education, skills or income levels. Besides, it would have to provide affordable housing, cost-efficient physical infrastructure such as 24-hour water and electric supply, proper sanitation facility, clean air, quality education, healthcare, security, entertainment, fast and efficient urban mobility, etc.
In fact, 90 per cent of the world’s urban population growth will take place in developing countries. India is currently experiencing a high pace of urbanisation and movement of its citizens from smaller towns and villages to cities.
To create a more livable and healthy environment, Smart Cities have been planned. The Smart City concept emerged during the last decade as a fusion of ideas about how information and communications technologies (ICTs) might improve the functioning of cities, enhancing their efficiency, improving their competitiveness and providing new ways in which problems of poverty, social deprivation and environment might be addressed.
For a smart city the key elements are institutional (including governance), physical, social and economic infrastructures. Institutional infrastructure refers to the activities that relate to the planning and management systems, the participatory systems of governance and e-governance. Physical infrastructure refers to cost-efficient and intelligent physical infrastructure like the urban mobility system, the housing stock, the energy system, the water supply system and sewerage system, solid waste management, drainage, etc. Social infrastructure relates to the components that work towards developing human and social capitals such as educational, healthcare, entertainment, open spaces and parks. 
The Prime Minister has a vision of developing one hundred Smart Cities as satellite towns of larger cities and by modernising the existing midsized cities to meet the demands of the country’s rapidly growing urban population. To achieve this, Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) would need to make effective use of information and communications technology in public administration to coordinate between various departments. Specifically, Smart Cities would have municipal offices fully automated to deliver services in time through IT-based facilities.
Public participation in governance should be made possible through the social media and by making all information available in the public domain. One hundred Smart Cities may be chosen by considering various criteria as one satellite city of each of the cities with a population of 4 million people or more (nine cities). Most of the cities in the population range of 1-4 million people (about 35 out of 44 cities). Cities of tourist, religious and economic importance not included in above cities. Cities in the 0.2 to 1.0 million population range (25 cities).
Developing 100 Smart Cities would need a large number of professional manpower and several decision support systems. Thus, there is a need for a large capacity building programme that encompasses training, education, research, knowledge exchange and a rich database.
The benchmarks for Smart Cities include smart transportation with maximum travel time of 30 minutes in small and medium-size cities and 45 minutes in metropolitan areas; unobstructed footpath of minimum two-m width on either side of all streets; and dedicated and physically-segregated bicycle tracks with a width of  two m or more. At least 20 per cent of all residential units have to be occupied by economically weaker sections. All households should be connected to the waste water network. India can make Smart Cities like Seoul, Singapore, Yokohama and Barcelona, which have a sound transport system and efficient management of services for all citizens.
There is also proposal in Odisha to include six cities in the Smart City project. The cities are Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Brahmapur, Puri, Sambalpur and Rourkela. To fulfil the goal, there is a requirement of involvement of citizens in decision-making processes. New ways of reengineering cities to make them smart, responsive, competitive and equitable would require new forms of governance. Public-private partnerships and citizen participation is highly needed for application of smart technology in city planning.