Every year, we at The Pixel Project come across a wide variety of innovative and powerful campaigns tackling Violence Against Women (VAW) by our fellow activists and non-profits from around the globe, and 2017 is no exception. With the power of the Internet, many of the campaigns featured in this year’s list had global outreach. The year began with a global Women’s March and is ending with multiple campaigns taking the #MeToo movement forward.
We acknowledge that anti-VAW campaigners put themselves in perilous situations to advocate for the safety of others and we are immeasurably grateful for their bravery. From women marching the streets to women combating harassment online, each and every action, large or small, counts.
So today, in honour of all VAW activists, nonprofits and grassroots groups who toil in such thankless situations to bring about positive change to the lives of women and girls facing violence, we present 16 of the most striking campaigns/programmes we have come across in the last year of our work.
What these campaigns have in common are:
- The built-in “water-cooler” factor that gets the community buzzing about the campaign and, by extension, the issue of VAW.
- A good sense of what works in and for the culture and community where the activist/nonprofit/grassroots group is trying to effect change.
We hope that these campaigns and initiatives inspire you to take action and get on board the cause to end VAW.
It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.
Written and compiled by Rubina Singh.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #1: #Balancetonporc (Expose Your Pig) – France
Post the #MeToo movement, women in France have been using the hashtag #Balancetonporc or ‘Expose your pig’ to talk about sexual harassment by men in powerful positions. Created by French journalist Sandra Muller, many French women came forward online to share their experiences with sexual harassment and sexual abuse using the hashtag.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #2: Boxing against Gender-based Violence – Namibia
To raise awareness about gender-based violence and a new toll-free helpline, the Namibian boxing community organised a one-of-a-kind boxing match. Using mysterious names for the boxers, the match showed a large man in a boxing ring getting ready to fight against a smaller woman. The campaign garnered a lot of attention over social media and helped in promoting the toll-free helpline for victims of violence.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #3: Cheer Up Luv – United Kingdom
Photojournalist Eliza Hatch wanted to use her skills to shine a light on the high prevalence of sexual harassment against women in cities like London and she has achieved this through her photo series ‘Cheer Up Luv’. The campaign aims to document women who have experienced sexual harassment on any scale in a public setting. Women covered in the series share their stories of sexual harassment in their own words, taking ownership of the narrative around their experiences.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #4: Criminal Minds Awareness Campaign – South Korea
To raise awareness about VAW, tvN’s South Korean remake of the popular American TV show Criminal Minds, along with the city of Seoul, initiated a joint anti-VAW campaign earlier this year. Through the campaign, the network and Seoul Metropolitan government inform citizens about Seoul’s women protection policies. The TV show is also set to showcase information about these policies in tandem with an online and on-ground awareness campaign.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #5: #Dearcatcallers – The Netherlands
Noa Jansma, a 20-year-old college student from Amsterdam who was fed up with daily instances of street harassment, decided to start a month-long campaign taking selfies with her harassers. Through her campaign called ‘Dear Catcallers’, Noa took selfies with almost everyone who harassed her on the streets during that one month in order to raise awareness about street harassment. Post-campaign, @Dearcatcallers has more than 350,000 followers on Instagram and Noa plans to share the handle with other women across the world, encouraging them to take the campaign forward.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #6: #DearSister – Egypt and Worldwide (Online)
Started by Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy, #DearSister came in response to incessant policing of Muslim women by random men. Targeting widespread sexism faced by many Muslim women, the campaign saw thousands of women sharing stories of men telling them how to dress or behave.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #7: Ending Violence Against Female Garment Workers – South and Southeast Asia
Global Fund for Women along with C&A Foundation and Gender at Work initiated a three-year long campaign to address VAW in the garment industry in South and Southeast Asia, particularly Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Myanmar and Vietnam. The campaign will strengthen existing organisations working to eliminate gender-based violence in the garment industry. Given that 80% of the employees in the industry are women, and at least half of them have encountered some form of abuse in their employment, this campaign is a much needed step in the right direction.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #8: Hunger Strike against Sexual Harassment Campaign – India
Fearful – and fed-up – of sexual harassment on their way school in a neighboring village, 13 teenage girls in India decided to go on a hunger strike. The students refused to eat food for eight days until the government finally intervened and assured the girls that their commute would be safe from now on. Thanks to their efforts, these girls will now have a secondary school in their village, allowing them to avoid a long commute for school and ensuring a safer learning environment for them.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #9: #Justice4her – Ghana
Following the rape of a four year old girl, Ghana witnessed large-scale public outcry to ensure that appropriate action was taken. Using the hashtag #Justice4her, campaigners were successful in facilitating the ordering of an investigation into the case. Prior to the campaign, local traditional leaders had refused to take action as ‘the community gods deemed the suspect innocent’. The campaign has also helped to raise $4000 towards reconstructive surgery for the child.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #10: #MeToo Movement – USA and Worldwide (Online)
Probably the most viral and widespread campaign of 2017, the #MeToo movement was officially started by activist Tarana Burke over a decade ago. However, this year, after multiple accusations of sexual assault were made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, actress Alyssa Milano propelled the campaign to an unprecedented level, encouraging all women who have faced sexual abuse to use the hashtag. According to Facebook, within 24 hours of Alyssa Milano’s initial tweet, 4.7 million people from across the world engaged in the #metoo conversation.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #11: Miss Peru Pageant Highlights VAW Statistics – Peru
In a unique awareness campaign, contestants on the Miss Peru recited shocking statistics of violence against women rather than talking about their body measurements. The remainder of the pageant also focused on violence against women and utilised the opportunity to share this information with many viewers. Following the pageant, the contestants have also planned to hold a march in Lima to continue their efforts.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #12: #NoEsDesHombres – Mexico
UN Women and the Mexican Government collaborated on a unique campaign to address sexual harassment in public transport called #NoEsDesHombres (‘This isn’t manly’). As a part of the campaign, they placed a ‘penis seat’ on the Mexico City Metro and filmed reactions of commuters. The viral video was targeted at raising awareness about sexual harassment, particularly with men.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #13: #Undress522 – Lebanon
Lebanese artist Mireille Honein created an art installation featuring wedding dressing hanging by nooses in Beirut as part of a wider campaign #Undress522. The campaign targeted Article 522 which allowed a rapist to escape prosecution if he married the victim. Thanks to the art installation and the larger campaign, Article 522 was repealed in August 2017.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #14: “What Were You Wearing?” Art Exhibit – USA
Many women have experienced victim blaming in one form or another when it comes to incidents of VAW. One of the most common questions that women are asked is, “What were you wearing?” Highlighting the fact that clothing has no relevance when it comes to VAW, Jen Brockman, the director of KU’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, and Dr. Mary A. Wyandt-Hiebert, who oversees all programming initiatives at the University of Arkansas’ rape education center, curated an art exhibit showcasing various outfits that women were wearing when they faced sexual violence. The exhibit was on display in the University of Kansas this year and hopes to promote awareness about sexual violence and combat victim blaming.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #15: #White Wednesdays – Iran
To protest mandatory dress codes, Iranian women are sharing pictures of themselves in white headscarves or clothing using the hashtag #WhiteWednesdays. Hundreds of women have joined the campaign and hope that their public outcry brings some freedom from forced dress codes. The hashtag and an organisation opposed to the mandatory dress code, My Stealthy Freedom, were both started by Masih Alinejad.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #16: Women’s March – Worldwide
Initially a response to President Donald Trump’s win in the forty-fifth US Presidential Election, the women’s march became a global movement of women showing solidarity and standing together for women’s rights everywhere. With over five million protesters across the world, the Women’s March is now regarded as the single biggest protest in modern history.
- #DearSister – Photo from “#DearSister: Muslim women fed up of being lectured” (BBC News)
- Hunger Strike Against Sexual Harassment Campaign – Photo from “India schoolgirls on hunger strike to fight sexual harassment” (BBC News)
- ‘What were you wearing?’ Art Exhibit – Photo from “Art Exhibit Powerfully Answers the Question “What Were You Wearing?” (Huffington Post)