In conversation: Anita Grant

Anita Grant of islington4Women

Islington4Women is a local group on a mission to make Islington a better place for all women. The group organises regular strolls around local neighbourhoods, allowing women of all backgrounds to come together, walk and talk, and meet new people. We caught up with one of the founders, Anita Grant, to find out more

What inspired you to start Islington4Women’s local walks programme?
From the start of Islington4Women, it was clear that safety and freedom was core to what women were talking about when they came to our events. Islington was identified as an amazing place to live, with services, shops, work opportunities, childcare and a general feeling of acceptance. But safety in the street, especially in relation to men, was consistently identified as a negative. It impacts women’s confidence.

After the horrific murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021, we picked up an ongoing conversation about women reclaiming their local area and worked with the council’s community safety officers and the Met to create the walk programme. Each walk was led by a local, women-led community group and was individual to that organisation.

What did you learn from it?
It was great to have a different organisation lead each walk. We learnt not to try to fit too much into each one, as the socialising and exploration of very local areas was what women appreciated the most. There are bits of streets, alleys and even parks that women don’t use because they feel unsafe. It was quite shocking.

What is the one thing you’d like people in Islington to know about women’s safety?
Women do not like being spoken to by male strangers in the street. This is not an accusation that all men are aggressive, but that they wish to choose for themselves who to speak to. Even ‘positive’ comments about their appearance are not welcome.

What challenges remain and what needs to be done to address them?
Women need to feel safe. Most do not, and they assess and manage their routes, time and plans accordingly. It needs to become normal for a woman to walk around Islington without avoiding places where men gather and without being spoken to or shouted at by men.

Visit the Islington4Women website to find out more

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