A few weeks ago an incident took place in our community that involved an alleged case of sexual harassment between a mentor and pupil. The rarity in this incident was that the girl spoke up and reported it. It is not my concern who is right or wrong, as it is not my judgement to make. However, the detailed account that was made public was disturbing to say the least. It made me think of all the women and men that undergo different forms of sexual harassment and remain silent.
Consequently, I looked up the definition and was a bit taken aback to learn what qualifies as sexual harassment. I went through the list and realized some of those things had happened to me even. Things like staring, winking, deliberately being brushed against, were common even in the ultra-conservative society I grew up in.
It got me thinking about this problem, how widespread it is, how many incidents go unreported, and it really bothered me. I thought about my own culture and how South Asian societies are so heavily weighed down with taboos of even acknowledging such incidents, and wondered what I could do to help.
For the past few weeks I’ve been doing research on sexual harassment with a concentration on the issues surrounding it that exist in countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Men, women, and children are all subject to these crimes, however my work thus far has focused predominantly on women and the need to empower populations to speak out against such acts.
March 8, 2015 is International Women’s Day! This year’s theme declared by the UN is “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!”
As I’ve been conducting research for a design project for the past couple weeks and it correlates so well with this theme and this day, Astrelabe will be focusing the remainder of March (and maybe beyond) on my process and progress relating to Speaking up Against Sexual Harassment.
I’ve been coming across many things in the news that are being done for this International Women’s Day. Other than sharing the work I’m trying to do, I’m including a list of things I myself or others might be interesting in doing for this day:
Paint It Purple is an awareness campaign initiated by internationalwomensday.com to celebrate women’s achievements and call for greater equality. The hashtags #PaintItPurple and #MakeItHappen mark this campaign and the idea is to wear purple on March 8, 2015 to show your support and celebrate International Women’s Day 2015.
As Oxfam is the reason I found out about this day to begin with, and because I’m such a big fan of their website, I will recommend their page centered on resources and donation options for this day: Oxfam-International Women’s Day
However, any cause for women you feel passionate about wherever, donate what you can. Every little bit helps!
Google search your city’s events
Search “International Women’s Day (your respective city…New York, Toronto, Amsterdam, Karachi, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, etc wherever you live)” and see what shows up. I can guarantee some documentary screening, some dinner event, some kind of commemoration is going on. See if there’s anything you’d like to be part of.
Watch, read, learn
There are a lot of issues and concerns out there that threaten the equality or justice for women. Some of these include sexual violence, inequality in the workplace, gender discrimination, and inaccessibility to education. Read an article, watch a documentary, learn something new about these issues.
Participate in YouTube’s #DearMe campaign
To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2015, YouTube is launching a video campaign giving your older self advice and it’s pretty neat: #DearMe on ABC News
Tune in with Emma Watson
Emma Watson will be hosting a conversation about gender equality and UN Women’s HeforShe campaign, a global movement to engage men and boys in the effort.
Tune in on March 8th: Emma Watson on facebook
Go out and celebrate with other women friends, talk about issues you care about, give each other small gifts of appreciation.