On Wednesday, 21st September, we held our second Safer for Women event at Nottingham Trent University. As you may be aware, Nottingham Women’s Centre recently made news headlines for our work with Nottinghamshire Police – the only police force in the country to categorise misogyny as a form of hate crime. This event was an opportunity to share our learning with a national audience and also to look at what more needs to be done to make public spaces safer for women. Once again, there was significant interest from the press – highlighting what an important issue street harassment is for women across the country.
The event was chaired by Chief Constable Sue Fish, with speakers including Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of The Fawcett Society and Laura Bates, founder of The Everyday Sexism Project. We were delighted to welcome representatives from 16 national police forces, all keen to understand how and why Nottinghamshire Police have taken this groundbreaking step.
The event was opened by Paddy Tipping who, as our Police and Crime Commissioner, has been instrumental in providing funding for the project. This funding not only enabled us to hold the event but also financed vital training for all front line officers, an integral part of the initiative’s success, and the ongoing comms work to publicise the initiative locally.
Following Paddy’s opening address, we launched ‘Because I Am A Woman’, a video detailing women’s personal experiences of street harassment and misogyny hate crime in Nottinghamshire. We were thrilled that a number of the women featured in the video were able to attend the event. The video was incredibly well received and was subsequently released online, where it has so far been viewed more than 50,000 times.
The morning included talks by our own Melanie Jeffs and Chief Constable Fish about the history of the initiative and our learnings for other forces wishing to follow suit. We also heard from Sam Smethers about the need for misogyny to be classed as a hate crime nationally; and from Laura Bates about the everyday sexism experienced by women and girls across the country. Nottinghamshire Police and Nottingham Women’s Centre ran separate lunch time Q&A sessions, which afforded visiting police forces and voluntary sector organisations an opportunity to discuss the initiative in depth.
The afternoon’s session focused on other work being done in Nottinghamshire. Zahra Butt and Irene Zempi spoke movingly about Muslim women’s experiences of misogyny and Islamophobia and the work being done to tackle these nationally and locally. Rachel Harding discussed her research into children’s experiences of street harassment on their way to and from school. Rachel’s research was inspired by an incident when her daughter Ruth was followed and harassed by two men in a car one morning when she was only 11 years old. The findings shared by Rachel and her colleague, Kendall Newbold, brought into stark relief the daily lived experiences of young girls and the urgent need to begin tackling this issue as soon as possible. The event ended with Mark Simmonds from Nottingham Trent University looking at the role that universities have to play in this work.
Our hashtag, #nottacompliment was so well used throughout the day that it was trending on Twitter, while feedback from delegates was extremely positive. Here are just a few of the comments we received:
“A fantastic and inspiring group of people working to improve lives – awesome! Well done – you are an inspiration”
“[I will] debate including misogyny into our hate crime classification – lets at least discuss it”
“I work in a student’s union and I will definitely be attempting to instigate a movement to change – and will lobby our PCC”
The work doesn’t stop here for us – but we are enormously proud of what we have achieved so far and the impact it is having across the country. Our ultimate aim is to see misogyny classed as a hate crime nationally. This event felt like another significant step towards achieving that aim.