Own Our Zone

Abby Doyle, one of Girlguiding Scotland's Speak Out Champions, explains why their campaign this year is all about improving parks and other public spaces for women and girls, in particular making them safer.

October 3, 2023
October 3, 2023
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What is the Own Our Zone campaign?

Own Our Zone, created by Girlguiding Scotland’s Speak Out champions in partnership with Make Space For Girls, is all about making public spaces safer for women and girls in Scotland.

We envision a Scotland where girls and young women feel safe and are welcome outside and in public spaces during the day and night. Where they are not at threat from violence and where they can fully participate in outdoor activities as equal members of society. We want transformative community planning, understanding that public spaces must be co-designed by and for women and girls.

Why did we work with Make Space For Girls on this campaign?

As campaigners for making public spaces and facilities for teenage girls, Make Space For Girls have been with this campaign since the start. They attended our planning session in October 2022 to teach us about how to make public spaces safer and what to call for from decision makers. They also worked with us on the challenge pack that was sent to Girlguiding Scotland members, aged 4 – 18, and created a specific checklist activity to encourage girls to get outside and think critically about what they want to change and what they like in their local park or areas. Make Space For Girls are also releasing their own research, ParkWatch, to show how parks are not designed with girls in mind. This ties in perfectly with the Own Our Zone campaign too!

Cover of Own Our Zone Challenge pack with illustration of girl on phone in park alone

What is the importance of the Own Our Zone campaign?

This campaign is important as it challenges the systematic barriers in which makes many girls and young women feel unsafe within public spaces during the day and night. By introducing this campaign, it should bring to light these issues and allow for change where they are not at threat from violence. This will allow for them to become able to fully participate in outdoor activities as equal members of society. Through Own Our Zone campaign, we are calling for these changes to happen so that girls feel empowered to reach their full potential outside in their communities and be involved in designing spaces from the very beginning.

Why does it matter now?

We have noticed that, as young women who exist within today’s society, we can see how the world has not been designed with us in mind. Research by Girlguding (2022) found that 43% of girls and young women aged between the ages of 11 and 21 don’t feel safe when they’re outside by themselves. We saw how high these figures were and came together to try and change this. We want to allow girls and young women to feel like they are safe within their own communities and can reach their full potential no matter what.

This campaign will help the girls and young women think critically about the public spaces they are in, and offer them a voice to say how it can be improved.

What do we hope to achieve from Own Our Zone?

With this campaign, we hope that young women and girls are able to start feeling safe and a part of the communities they are in without having to worry about the systematic barriers. If action was taken for this campaign, it should challenge the systematic barriers which prevent girls and young women from feeling safe in public spaces. To help us, we are aiming to create and promote more awareness on this issue and educate people around violence against women. These may include improved communication between women, men, and political institutions. By creating this campaign, we want to influence community planning, so that those public spaces are co-designed for and by girls and young women. Thus allowing girls and young women to be able to own their zone.

So far, we have had decision makers begin to reach out to us about the campaign and even received a Motion of Recognition in Scottish Parliament! We want to keep encouraging them to get involved and help us create real world change in making public spaces across Scotland safer and more welcoming for all, particularly girls and young women.

Image of badge with girl on phone in park at dusk and the words Girlguiding Scotland

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