In September, Bradford appointed a new Safety of Women and Girls lead Assia Hussain. Here we find out a little more about her role, motivations and the changes she would like to see and… we’ve a little favour to ask too.
Welcome Assia! Please can you tell us a little more about your role?
My role focuses on working with key stakeholders to enable a comprehensive approach to the safety and well-being of women and girls within the Bradford District. This includes coordinating a range of initiatives aimed at preventing and addressing gender-based violence, discrimination, and inequalities. It’s a huge agenda but very much needed and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.
Examples of our approach will include the development of a localised plan of key support services in the district so no matter where you live, if needed, women and girls will know where to go for help and advice. We will also be working in partnership with men and boys and introducing ‘Behaviour Change’ education programs in schools. Simply put, if we don’t tackle the root cause, we’ll never be able to thrive in a safer and more inclusive environment.
This role is strategic and has been funded by the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund as part of the Mayor of West Yorkshire’s ten commitments. The SOWG outcomes for the district will also feed into the outcomes of various other local, regional and national initiatives such as:
- Bradford Community Safety Partnership
- Bradford Domestic and Sexual Violence Board
- Bradford Council Well-Being Board’s Strategic EDI Objectives
- WY Safety of Women and Girls Strategy,
- WY Policing and Crime Plan,
- WY Violence Reduction Partnership and the wider Violence Reduction Duty legislation.
Why is there a need for a specific agenda for women and girls?
We acknowledge that, of course, men can and do feel unsafe, but statistically, women face far higher and disproportionate risks. We can’t shy away from gender-based violence and discrimination and that is why we’re focussing our efforts to raise awareness, embed policies, and allocate resources to address these issues effectively. We need to create safer environments (both online and offline), promote gender equality, and empower women and girls, recognising that their safety is a fundamental human right and a pre-requisite for social progress.
What changes do you hope to see/what are your priorities?
As an advocate for women and girls, we need to see a significant shift where men and boys recognise that, for example, sexually charged banter, isn’t banter. Wolf whistling and aggressive flirtations can fuel fear for those on the receiving end and yet this male dominated behaviour is readily dismissed as innocent chat, a joke. It isn’t chat, it isn’t a joke, and it isn’t innocent. We need to change the narrative by educating men and boys whilst dually educating women and girls too.
What motivates you to embed this agenda?
As a woman, I am motivated by a deep understanding of the challenges and vulnerabilities that many of us face due to gender-based discrimination and violence. I’m driven by a desire for a society where every woman and girl can live free from fear, with equal opportunities, and the ability to fulfil their potential. It’s also a commitment to basic human rights and equality that we empower and protect women and girls because only by doing this can we strengthen our society as a whole.
You need a little help, right?
I do, please! I’m hoping that Bradford residents will help inform our strategy. We have a ‘Safety of Women and Girls’ anonymous survey which is aimed at anyone who is over the age of 18 and living, working, or studying in the Bradford District. The purpose of the survey is to gain invaluable input; identify key concerns and develop effective solutions for a safer Bradford District for all.
By taking a few minutes to complete this survey, individuals in Bradford will contribute to building a brighter and safer future for women and girls. I alone can’t make a difference, it takes a whole community to make a difference and that is why we need to gather the voices of many if we are to make a meaningful impact.
To access the survey please click on the link: https://forms.office.com/e/htB4Xvcr1E
Deadline for survey responses is the 10th October and thank you so much!