An Interview with Women Walking Home

Us women are at a definite disadvantage when it comes to personal safety. The figures regarding sexual harassment, rape, and intimidation inflicted upon women and those who identify as female, as well as male homosexuals, are quite horrifying, leaving me feeling quite helpless and above all else, unsafe. Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Flo Fowler, a second year French, Spanish, and Portuguese student who is the founder and creator of the women’s safety network, Women Walking Home. It is an online community that is designed to improve the safety and wellbeing of girls, women, and anyone who identifies as female in Nottingham. She told me all about her motivations for starting the group, and her hopes for the future of the network. 

1. What motivated you to start up Women Walking Home? 

‘I was talking to a friend’s girlfriend who, due to her late work shifts, often found herself walking home alone late at night. Her friends were usually asleep by this time, so she often had nobody to ring while she walked. Every woman I know has been harassed to some extent, whether it was while walking alone, on a night out, working, or just minding their own business! Personally, I’ve been on the receiving end of aggressive misogynistic behaviour too many times and I just felt it was time to do something! It’s a constant fear for so many women, and I thought that an online community that you can go to in times when you feel vulnerable could be a great help.’

2. What do you hope that the group will achieve? 

‘My hope was that it would provide women (including trans women, non-binary people, and anyone assigned female at birth) a safe place. The statistics of sexual harassment, assault, and rape are truly horrific, and though a group chat can’t stop that completely, it could help prevent it. Having someone to speak to on the phone while walking alone could not only be psychologically assuring but could also deter potential attackers. Since I created the group, more such groups have been created across the UK, including one in Lincoln that has over 2000 members. It’s really incredible to see all these women teaming together to keep each other safe! I hope that this lovely community continues to spread.’

3. What else do you think could be done by the university to promote the safety of students living in Lenton? 

‘The University of Nottingham is very good in some ways in regard to their students’ safety, with organisations such as Nottingham Night Owls, who patrol the city at night looking out for vulnerable people, as well as the Women’s* Network who organise events and talks that raise awareness about these issues. However, I think more could potentially be done in regard to education about consent. While I’m aware of the ‘Let’s be clear on consent’ campaign that has been promoted within the university, it unfortunately doesn’t seem to spread quite wide enough. Compulsory consent workshops are one idea that I have heard discussed within the Women’s* Network. It’s horrible that these measures feel necessary but the way that Women Walking Home has taken off really shows how many women feel threatened, intimidated and scared on a regular basis.’ 

4. Is there a Facebook group that people can join? 

‘Yes! Due to the limit on members allowed in a group chat, there is now a closed group that people can join by getting in touch with me or any member. I personally make sure that everyone who requests to join the group is legitimate to ensure the safety of the group members, so anyone who would like to be added doesn’t need to worry about that!’ 

I think this group has real potential to increase the safety of women in Nottingham and help get rid of that fear of having to walk home alone. Unfortunately, you are putting yourself at a considerable risk if you choose to walk home in the dark on your own. As frustrating as that is, it is the truth. Things like this can help to eliminate that risk and allow women to walk alone with confidence.

If you search ‘Women Walking Home’ on Facebook, the group will appear. You can request to join, or search for Flo herself and she can add you in to the group. Just when you thought you couldn’t love her any more, when I asked her to tell me a little bit about herself, she said: ‘I love dogs, Pinot Grigio, and smashing the patriarchy!