Today is International Women’s Day. We stand with women around the world in celebrating what it means to be a woman, and in advocating for equality. While sexual violence affects all genders, women are disproportionately affected — particularly women of color, those in the LGBTQ community, and women with disabilities, among others.
Today, we hope you will join us in committing to the following:
1. Believe survivors.
Sarah Ogden Trotta, a licensed psychotherapist, said it best: "We have absolutely nothing to lose by believing a survivor’s words, and a survivor has everything to gain through the experience of feeling trusted and validated. Even if the details seem confusing, we must stand firm in knowing that their account of sexual assault is rooted in truth."
As an ally, when a survivor comes forward, you must tell them that you believe them, that the assault isn't their fault, and that they are not alone. Sexual violence is about control, and we must empower and restore control to survivors. Allies must support the choices survivors make.
2. Be intersectional.
We cannot talk about women’s issues without talking about race, gender identity/expression, sexuality, ability, documentation, economic status, and all intersections of identity that often instigate compounded marginalization. We must center and amplify their voices in our conversations and in our actions.
Here are some tangible ways you can help support organizations and initiatives dedicated to uplifting women at these intersections:
Sexual violence organizations:
- Black Women’s Blueprint
- Heart Women & Girls
- Casa de Esperanza
- National Indigenous Women’s Center
- Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women
- Asian Pacific Institute on Gender Based Violence
- South Asian Helpline and Referral Agency
- National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault
- The Network/La Red
- #GiveYourMoneyToWomen - Lauren Chief Elk, an activist, prison abolitionist, and advocate for survivors, created the campaign to demand payment for much of the unpaid emotional labor women are expected to provide. Although, this campaign originally focused on unpaid emotional labor, Chief Elk explains that #GiveYourMoneyToWomen is inclusive of addressing inequality in the wage gap between women of color and white women, compensation of all unpaid labor such as household chores, and payment of women creatives whose work is often stolen and unpaid for their work.
- #SayHerName - created by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), a think tank which connects academics, activists, and policymakers to dismantle structural inequality. #SayHerName, a campaign that is often co-opted, is intended to address state-sanctioned violence against Black women and girls who are often erased from narratives around police brutality. In addition to #SayHerName, the AAPF is also responsible for other campaigns such as #BreakingtheSilence, #HerDreamDeferred, and #WhyWeCantWait.
- #YouOkSis - Feminista Jones, activist, writer, social worker, and creator of #YouOkSis created this campaign to address street harassment and bystander intervention from an intersectional standpoint. Jones focuses on those who are most vulnerable to the harshest types of street harassment, Black women (both cisgender and transgender) and offers a realistic and comprehensive tool for bystanders to intervene — by simply asking “You ok sis?” For more information, please visit here.
Other Women’s Centered Organizations:
- Camions of Care
- National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project
- Black Lives Matter
- Trans Women of Color Collective
- Council on American-Islamic Relations
- Black Alliance for Just Immigration
- National Black Women’s Justice Institute
- Stand with Standing Rock
3. Support organizations that promote women's rights.
We have seen an unprecedented attack on women’s rights over the past few months. This is an important time to support organizations that promote the rights of women. We recommend doing your research and supporting grassroots, small nonprofits where every dollar counts.
Sexual violence on college campuses overwhelmingly affects young women. Our mission is to end gender-based violence on college campuses, and every aspect of our programming is dedicated to our vision in which all students will have equal access to education. You can support EROC by visiting endrapeoncampus.org/donate.
Here are some other phenomenal organizations we hope you will consider supporting with your time, money, and/or talent:
- ACLU Women’s Project
- Campaign for Southern Equality
- National Eating Disorders Association
- National Women’s Law Center
- One Love Foundation
- Planned Parenthood
- Trevor Project
4. Practice everyday activism
Everyday activism is the radical notion that everyone can play a part in ending violence and oppression by resisting rape culture, supporting survivors, and challenging our institutions.
Rape culture is built upon a series of pervasive microaggressions, acts that normalize sexual violence in our society such as objectifying, racist, transphobic, homophobic actions. We must counter rape culture in the same way — through constant, proactive assertions believing survivors and condemning the actions that constitute rape culture.
You can learn more about everyday activism here.
5. Find the intersection of where your talents meet an important need in our efforts towards equality.
Everyone has a role in countering sexual violence and advocating for gender equality. Beyond practicing everyday activism, we hope you will consider directing your talents towards these efforts. Whether you are an artist, a community organizer, an athlete, a carpenter, a social worker, a musician, or a professional volunteer, organizations like ours are constantly seeking folks with varying skillsets to assist with different initiatives.
You can learn more about volunteering with EROC and other organizations like ours here.
Happy International Women’s Day.