Back in 2015, while Jasmine George was staying in Dehli, India, a friend asked for her advice on where she could go to get an abortion.

The woman had already tried a private health clinic, but was asked to leave when the practitioner found out she wasn't married. Not only was she denied the healthcare she needed, she was outright shamed for even asking for it.

The injustice of the whole situation lit a fire inside George.


"I realized that a crucial part of comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare is how women are treated and how they feel when they seek healthcare," explains George in an email.

But George's frustration went beyond wishing there were more welcoming healthcare facilities. She also wanted to find a way to address the systemic crisis of women's safety in public spaces across India.

[rebelmouse-image 19398147 dam="1" original_size="640x426" caption="Image via Pixabay." expand=1]Image via Pixabay.

In the wake of "the Nirbhaya Incident," where a young woman was brutally raped and murdered by a group of men, the country became focused on amping up security and placing more restrictions on women in public places, rather than helping them take control of their own safety.

As a lawyer and autonomous woman, this didn't sit well with George. She wanted to help women feel safer in their own cities without having to rely on security systems and laws created by men.

So she connected with a couple of fellow Indian feminists, and launched an organization called Hidden Pockets Collective, which utilizes technology, research and the knowledge of locals to help Indian women find the reproductive health services and safe spaces they may need.

"We are trying to find health services that are good quality, affordable and non-judgmental that people can access without fear," writes George.

The Hidden Pockets collective, Aisha (left), Jasmine (center) and Tushita (right). Photo via Jasmine George.

Once they established their mission, they started recruiting designers, researchers, techies, and local women who know the major cities in India to help them build an interactive digital map that designates where women can find reproductive health services, transportation, and safe public areas.

"We organize community walks through the well-known and uncommon pockets of the city to help people get to know their city better and to build a close relationship with the community," explains George.

Currently, their project operates on Open Street Map, which is public, and therefore available to everyone. However, in order to get it set up, they had to become acquainted with the complexities of the data-driven mapping world, and make sure they could utilize it effectively.  

What's more, a lot of the safe spaces they wanted to highlight aren't actually visible on map resources like Google Maps, so they often had to go out and find the coordinates themselves, which, needless to say, wasn't always a walk in the park.  

Thanks to their tireless efforts though, Hidden Pockets now has digital maps for seven major Indian cities up and running, including Delhi and Jaipur.

[rebelmouse-image 19398149 dam="1" original_size="1056x992" caption="Hidden Pockets' interactive map for Jaipur, India. Photo via Hidden Pockets. " expand=1]Hidden Pockets' interactive map for Jaipur, India. Photo via Hidden Pockets.

While the work isn't always easy, this intersection of community and technology is helping them create a solution to a major problem that affects women the world over.

And that solution extends far beyond mapping safe spaces. They're also conducting ongoing interviews with local women about the importance of reclaiming health facilities and "pleasure pockets," which are public places where women can relax and enjoy themselves while still feeling safe.

This interview process was born out of the initial work they were doing to help spread health access information to locals. They'd translate information on where to find local health services into various Indian languages, then broadcast it via community radio programs. Eventually, they started broadcasting the interviews they where doing with women as well, so the endeavor took on a podcast feel.

And as the project grew and evolved, so too did this idea of audibly sharing community stories about discovering safe spaces.

"We began asking women all around India to map their cities and tell their own stories of how different spaces felt," writes George. "We are pushing them to see their own city."

AIsha interviewing a young woman about contraception. Photo via Jasmine George.

This sharing of women's stories as they traverse their cities is empowering for the storytellers and listeners alike. Now, armed with this new mapping system, they'll hopefully feel more confident about reclaiming their public spaces.

"When we share the stories of women walking in their cities, when we share spaces where women have been before, when we share happy perspectives of women accessing services, we are giving hope to a lot of women out there, [reminding them that] they are not alone," notes George. "Technology can be one of the many ways to connect to each other."

Obviously we've got a long way to go before women's safety in public places is no longer a concern, but thanks to innovators like George and her collaborators, the path ahead has gotten much, much clearer.

This article originally appeared on November 11, 2015


Remember those beloved Richard Scarry books from when you were a kid?

Like a lot of people, I grew up reading them. And now, I read them to my kids.

The best!

If that doesn't ring a bell, perhaps this character from the "Busytown" series will. Classic!

Image via

Scarry was an incredibly prolific children's author and illustrator. He created over 250 books during his career. His books were loved across the world — over 100 million were sold in many languages.

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Don't panic! They've been changing in a good way.

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Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

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The standard phrase that comes up is "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," which is usually shorthand for "work harder and don't ask for or expect help." (The fact that the phrase was originally used sarcastically because pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps is literally, physically impossible is rarely acknowledged, but c'est la vie.) The idea that people who build wealth do so because they individually work harder than poor people is baked into the American consciousness and wrapped up in the ideal of the American dream.

A different take on boots and building wealth, however, paints a more accurate picture of what it takes to get out of poverty.

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On Tuesday, Upworthy reported that actor Peter Dinklage was unhappy with Disney’s decision to move forward with a live-action version of “Snow White and the Seven Drawfs” starring Rachel Zegler.

Dinklage praised Disney’s inclusive casting of the “West Side Story” actress, whose mother is of Colombian descent, but pointed out that, at the same time, the company was making a film that promotes damaging stereotypes about people with dwarfism.

"There's a lot of hypocrisy going on, I've gotta say, from being somebody who's a little bit unique," Dinklage told Marc Maron on his “WTF” podcast.

"Well, you know, it's really progressive to cast a—literally no offense to anybody, but I was a little taken aback by, they were very proud to cast a Latino actress as Snow White," Dinklage said, "but you're still telling the story of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.' Take a step back and look at what you're doing there.”

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