Working from the ground up: Women's safety in a community of sub-divided flats in Hong Kong

Kwok Kin Fung, Suet Lin Hung*, Yu Cheung Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


This study adopted the participatory action research (PAR) approach to co-create knowledge about the community from the perspectives and experiences of women in low-income communities in Hong Kong. Specifically, a ‘Working from the Ground Up’ approach to community development was implemented by social workers. Its effectiveness was evidenced in its capacity for facilitating women's voicing of their primary concerns about gender-specific safety threats. Guided by the PAR principles, the research process involved the community workers and residents. The findings reveal that fear not only affects women's use of public spaces such as streets and parks, but their use of the staircases and inter-building alleys leading to their housing units where they live. Women's housing units are also vulnerable to robbery and thefts due to their poor physical structures. Consequently, women have modified their behaviors to avoid falling prey to general crimes such as physical assault and, in particular, sexual violence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102764
Number of pages7
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
Early online date3 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Education
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Participatory action research
  • Women's safety
  • Community development
  • Substandard housing
  • Sexual violence


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