Leeds to become UK’s first Women Friendly city

A photo of women drinking and laughing in a pub or bar location.

Leeds to receive funding to make the city the first in the UK to be “Women Friendly”.

The move has been welcomed by a student who was sexually assaulted in her first week here.

Women’s Lives Leeds, a collection of women’s organisations in Leeds, have been successful in their bid for funding from Comic Relief’s ‘Power Up’ initiative. The initiative offers a share of £500,000 to help resource women’s and girl’s movements for change.

The funding will help Women’s Lives Leeds (WLL) in their aim to make Leeds a safer city where women are the happiest and healthiest they can be.

Goals included in the initiative are “voice and influence, employment and economic development, health and wellbeing, education and safety.”

In a report released by the organisation, WLL said: “The Women Friendly Leeds concept was first raised by the Leeds Women’s and Girls Hubs two years ago and has been in discussion since then.

“The initiative will focus on the equality of women and girls, making Leeds a city where the rights of women and girls are protected and promoted and decisions are made with the impact on women taken into consideration.”

A photo of Leeds' skyline at night.Wikimedia

WLL hopes Women Friendly Leeds will help improve the safety of women in the city.

A Leeds student who found herself a victim of unwanted sexual attention, Katie Gilroy said: “Two years ago I was in a club and was followed round by an older man who kept touching me inappropriately.

‘Ruined my experience’

“I decided to leave the club but he followed me outside, luckily there was police there so I reported it straight away and they dealt with the man straight away but nothing ever came of it in the long run, which was disappointing because he committed an actual crime.

“I’d just moved to university and was so excited about seeing all the different nightlife in Leeds, but that night really put me off going out for a while and pretty much ruined my ‘Fresher’s week’ experience.”

Katie added: “I slowly started feeling confident going clubbing again but I’ve still not been back to the club where it happened.

“Schemes like Ask for Angela becoming more popular have definitely given me more confidence going back out and enjoying myself, I think they’re a great idea and will hopefully prevent incidents like this happening to other people.”

WLL is a unique partnership between 11 organisations in the city, including Women’s Health Matters, Together Women and Getaway Girls.

The United Nations outlines a Women Friendly City as a city where women are supported and encouraged to participate in all areas of life on an equal basis with men.

Over 700 campaigns worldwide bid for the funding, with Women Friendly Leeds being one of only seven UK organisations to be successful.

This news comes after the growing success of ‘Ask for Angela’, a scheme which aids people who are feeling unsafe whilst on a date. Following the campaigns’ success within Lincolnshire, it has been rolled out across the UK, with several venues in Leeds adopting it.

Posters displayed in pubs, clubs and bars’ toilets encourage people to discreetly ‘Ask for Angela’ at the bar, where staff are trained to help deal with the situation.

The growth in popularity of the Ask for Angela scheme aims to help reduce the number of sexual assault incidents.

According to 2017 statistics, 24 percent of people living in England and Wales have experienced some kind of sexual assault since the age of 16.

Women’s Lives Leeds told Leeds Hacks how they plan to reveal more information closer to the launch of the initiative later in the year.

About the Author

Lucy Hopwood
Lucy is a third year student journalist at Leeds Beckett.

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