'Board the Bus' Seeks to Empower Women to Take Back Public Spaces

Human rights organization Breakthrough has launched a "Board the Bus" campaign in India to help raise awareness of public safety issues that pose a daily threat to women.


According to their website "Board the Bus is a campaign by Breakthrough aimed at creating a public conversation around the safety of women in public spaces. By taking the bus instead of a metro, auto or car, women are taking back a space that is rightfully theirs but that is often associated with feelings of insecurity, lack of safety or even fear....Women in India face glaring restrictions in terms of their mobility. Some may be forbidden from leaving their house without being accompanied by a male relative, others face a curfew on their movements. Even women with relatively more mobility, such as students or professionals, may find themselves policing their own movements - avoiding certain areas, favouring certain modes of transport, travelling within specific time frames, and even choosing to wear clothes that they feel are 'safe'."

The campaign comes more than a year after the death of Nirbhaya, who was brutally gang raped on a bus in New Delhi. Her story, and others like it triggered protests throughout India demanding more to be done to protect women.

"We're calling on women who don't normally take the bus to board the bus with us," Radhika Takru, the organization's digital media strategist said. "We're telling women who take the bus regularly that they don't have to go it alone. If everyone goes together, there is a very real chance we can make the bus – or any public space – safer."

According to Stop Street Harrassment, you don't have to live in India to participate in the campaign:

If you live in Delhi, consider joining the campaign and boarding a bus. Help make those spaces safer through your presence and, as necessary, bystander intervention. If you're not in Delhi, you can help spread the word about the campaign to those who are, and you can participate by traveling through Delhi on your own virtual bus. You can also consider riding a bus in your community. Chances are, harassment is a problem there too, making many people – especially women – feel unsafe.


The campaign runs through March 8, International Women's Day.