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UN Women Safe Cities: a research internship program on safe campuses with anthropology students

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

The UN Women Safe Cities program wants to know: How gender inclusive is the University of the Philippines Diliman campus from the point of view of its students?

To address this question, Monica Santos of the UP Department of Anthropology and I launched an internship program via a partnership between the Department, my design research firm Curiosity and UN Women local NGO partner for the program's Safe Public Spaces/Safe Campuses leg, the Forum for Family Planning and Development, Inc. Here, graduating students taking up BA Anthropology will be applying the concepts "walking as ethnography" by Tim Ingold and "embodied spaces" by Setha Low to address the question above.

Image 1. The workshop series of the internship included a post-up session of the students' field notes which aimed to help with the categorisation and synthesis their findings. Image credit: Pamela Cajilig.

I was really appreciative of how the students embraced the data analysis techniques we use at Curiosity. I was also impressed by their painstaking efforts to detail and organise their field notes. They really committed to the research and went beyond our expectations.

Image 2. A close up of verbatims gathered by the students. This is how qualitative research analysis is done! Image credit: Pamela Cajilig.

The workshop series made me miss teaching terribly. The students brought up several research strategies, practicalities and data points that could only have come from their lived experiences of the campus and of the topic of safety and gender inclusion as a whole. One of the gifts that teaching brings is the opportunity to likewise learn from one's students.

Image 3. Monica of the UP Anthropology Department and I ending our first workshop for the internship at Curiosity. Image credit: Monica Santos

The students presented their findings to UN Women. They were quite anxious during our rehearsal but they really pulled it off on the big day! The audience included heads of student councils in Metro Manila, who saw the opportunity to do similar studies in their own campuses. One value of this internship is the participatory approach to research in safe campuses, as the researchers were also the primary stakeholders of the project: Metro Manila students.

Image 4. The students presented this report to UN Women.

Image 5. FFPDI's Chi Vallido joins our team for a final post-presentation pic. Image credit: Monica Santos.

Big thanks to Chi Vallido of the Forum for Family Planning and Development Inc. for this opportunity! I'm so pleased to collaborate with friends at the intersection of causes close to my heart: gender equality and inclusive urban design.

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