Have you ever felt unsafe walking down a street alone, just because you are a girl? DONNEXSTRADA is a project made by women to make other women feel safe while walking down the streets of their cities. We interviewed the sociologist and cofounder of the project Marta Maria Nicolazzi.
If you are a girl and you live in Milan, it has probably occurred to you to walk down a street and feel unsafe. DONNEXSTRADA (Women down streets) is a project created by a group of women who want to help other women feel safe while walking down the streets of their cities. We are not speaking of the fear of being robbed, we are talking about the fear of being violated simply because we are women. This fear seems like a vicious cycle: people tell you to keep an eye on what is going on around you, because “you never know”, you start to fear people around you, you feel unsafe and weaker than men, men think that they are stronger and so on.
DONNEXSTRADA is an Instagram profile that, among other initiatives, organizes DIRETTEXSTRADA (live streaming down streets).
If you know that you will walk down a street you don’t like, maybe on Saturday night you have to come back from a disco alone, you can contact DONNEXSTRADA and book a call. A group of volunteers will be available at that moment on the other side of the phone, you have to book the appointment in advice and specify where you are. When you enter the street you can start an Instagram live streaming with them. By doing so, you can feel safer and the volunteer can support you. The volunteers will help you with some tricks to make you actually safer and the live streaming will be recorded, to be used later if anything happens. We had the opportunity to interview the sociologist and cofounder of the project Marta Maria Nicolazzi.
Where does the idea come from?
After the death of Sarah Everard, an English girl who has been raped and killed while going back home, a lot of people started asking themselves how something like that could happen.
Laura De Dilectis, psychologist, had the idea of a call to action on social media to finally face the distress women feel while walking around their city alone.
Initially, the Instagram profile was managed by us, our friends and other girls who spontaneously decided to join us. After some months, the profile started to grow really fast, and we had to work on new initiatives, on the volunteer team, on the page design and eventually we made it how it is today.
Have you been working on some initiatives lately?
We have organized three cycles of online events meetings with experts from different sectors. What we have in mind is a brief training course for those already familiar with the topics.
On November 13 we start with a cycle on psychology, on the November 20 with the legal cycle and the following Saturday, on the 27th, we’ll start the linguistic cycle.
We are also thinking of organizing discussions open to everyone, even if not from the sector, about what gender-based violence is, and what people can do about it.
Where did DONNEXSTRADA land?
As the project grew, it split in different branches, one of which is now an association. The coordinators are also thinking of developing a start-up. DONNEXSTRADA has participated to the Chiara Ferragni ft Pantene competition where 50 start-up projects made by women could win a financial reward. DONNEXSTRADA entered the top 10.
How can someone become a volunteer for DIRETTEXSTRADA?
Right now, we are managing to give a 24h availability for the calls. To become a volunteer and call women who don’t feel safe walking alone, making them feel safer, you have to apply by email. We’ll respond to you and ask for your background. If you fit our standard requirements we schedule an interview, evaluating your time availability and your training. If you pass this stage we include you in the group of volunteers, you do a first call shadowed by one of us and afterwards, you officially become part of the team.
Is this project active only in Milan?
No, indeed the bigger part of the team is in Rome. Our dream is to articulate our service to all the Italian territory, starting from Rome and Milan.
What is your long-term view?
We are planning to extend the project and find further measures to fight gender inequality, starting from education, extension of public transport during the night, lower taxi’s prices and other concrete measures to make women finally feel as safe as men while walking down their cities.
Bio of the interviewed woman: Marta Maria Nicolazzi is a sociologist specialized in gender equality, infancy and migration, who’s been fighting for gender equality for more than 10 years, making use of advocacy and minorities empowerment