The prevalence of violence against women in public spaces is a deeply concerning reality that hinders gender equality and women’s participation in public life. Verbal harassment, catcalling, stalking, groping, and even more severe forms of physical and sexual assault can lead to long-term emotional trauma and restrict women’s freedom of movement. Fear of violence restricts women’s opportunities, forcing them to alter their daily routines and avoid certain places altogether. The root causes of violence against women in public spaces are complex and multifaceted. Deep-seated gender norms, societal expectations, and unequal power dynamics play a crucial role in perpetuating such violence. A culture that tolerates and normalizes such behaviour further emboldens perpetrators. Moreover, the lack of proper infrastructure and lighting in public spaces, inadequate public transportation options, and poorly monitored areas contribute to the vulnerability of women and increase the risk of violence. Men can play an instrumental role in challenging harmful behaviour and supporting gender equality. To combat violence against women in public spaces, collective efforts are required at various levels – from policymakers to community members. For instance, launching public awareness campaigns and educational programs can help challenge harmful stereotypes, promote respect, and educate the public about the impact of violence on women’s lives. Moreover, enforcing and enhancing existing laws against gender-based violence is crucial. Introducing stricter penalties for perpetrators and expediting legal processes will act as deterrents. In addition to this, urban planners must prioritize women’s safety when designing public spaces. Well-lit, accessible areas with clear pathways and sufficient transportation options contribute to safer environments. Also, implementing safe and reliable public transportation services can provide women with a secure means of travel, encouraging their active participation in public life. Notably, involving men and boys in the conversation about gender-based violence is essential. Men can play an instrumental role in challenging harmful behaviour and supporting gender equality. Violence against women in public spaces is a grave human rights violation that necessitates urgent action from society as a whole. Creating safe and inclusive environments requires cooperation among government bodies, civil society organizations, and individuals. By challenging stereotypes, improving infrastructure, enforcing laws, and promoting public awareness, we can forge a society where women can move freely without fear, participate fully, and thrive in all aspects of public life. Only then can we truly claim to have achieved gender equality and justice for all. The writer is a freelance columnist.