The app is similar to TripAdvisor where places are reviewed and rated depending on how female friendly they are in a bid to “reclaim public institutions”.
“Here, women are limited in their choice of where to go, cafes have always been male-only places, some are hostile to women, and in some cases there is even physical aggression,” Franco-Moroccan social entrepreneur and founder of the project, Safâa El Jazouli, explained.
Tired of always going to the same places when she returned to Morocco, she had the idea to launch this initiative to encourage women to share their places and opinions on the establishments they like or don’t to help other women go to the same places or avoid them.
“It’s striking, there are only men, as soon as a woman dares to venture there she is badly perceived. The men have this look that objectifies the woman and prevents her from going where she wants to. Why would she not have the right to sit there read a newspaper or simply chat with a friend over a tea?” El Jazouli ased.
El Jazouli criticised how places are often reviewed on Google by men with few women “who give opinions” which inspired her to launch this project.
“It’s a platform where we help each other, between women, where we can judge if an establishment is safe and respectful towards us, and provide advice on places where we will not be harassed or embarrassed,” she added.
The goal of Finemchi is not to separate men and women but to help women to be safe around shared spaces. “Let’s be optimistic, it is quite possible that in a few years, there will be men and women, sitting together on the terrace of a cafe in a working-class neighbourhood,” she says with hope.
Launched this week, Finemchi has already listed a hundred places and is available free on Google Play.
Once installed on their mobile, users can add a café or restaurant and report a place based on their experiences. If something negative happens the app provides the location of nearby police stations and numbers to access them.
“The goal is to encourage businesses and establishments to be better accommodating to women. It’s to tell them “look, if women do not come to your institutions, there is a problem somewhere’,” El Jazouli explained.
She hopes to collaborate with them to help initiate social change as oppose to deterring women from visiting.
The initiative is likely to be criticised for masking the problem and not dealing with the rampant sexual abuse. Many women have called on the government to do more to enable safe spaces for women in public following a string of attacks last year.