How This Woman Is Making Cities Safe

Marc Beckmann
Sustainable Cities
"There is nothing called rocket science except rocket science."
Elsa Marie D’Silva

The sky never was the limit for Elsa Marie D’Silva. Not only because she used to work in the aviation industry. Elsa is one of those high-flyers who learn on the go and easily adapt. Whatever it takes, she is willing to put her heart in it and make things happen. This is why she founded SafeCities in 2012 right after an Indian student was violently raped on a moving bus in Delhi and died of horrific internal injuries. Elsa Marie wanted to help women in India at a time when many of them had lost hope that life will ever be safe.

Elsa Marie D’Silva is currently the founder and CEO of the Red Dot Foundation, which works at the intersection of gender, technology, communications, data, and urban planning. SafeCity is its flagship program. It is a platform that documents sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces. This data, which may be anonymous, gets aggregated as hot spots on a map indicating trends at a local level. The idea is to make this data useful for individuals, local communities, and local administrations to identify factors that causes behavior that leads to violence and work on strategies for solutions.

Elsa Marie is responsible for the strategic vision of the organization, business development, and public relations. Under her guidance and leadership, SafeCity has become the largest crowd map on the issue in India, Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Nepal.

Since it was launched on December 26, 2012, SafeCity has collected over 10,000 stories from over 50 cities in India, Kenya, Cameroon, and Nepal.

Merits, Medals, and More

Elsa Marie has a long list of merits and awards: She is an Aspen New Voices Fellow, a Vital Voices Lead Fellow, a mentee at the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women in Business, and an alumna of the Swedish Institute. She recently won an UN SDG Action Award in the visualizer category. She also publishes essays and op-eds on a regular basis.

Elsa Marie is a member of the Global Diplomacy Lab and the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network, and she joined the Global Table India in 2018 on "Female Leadership."

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