We are taking the month of November to spread awareness about the global epidemic of violence against women. This year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25th coincides with a recent spate of sexual assault allegations against powerful men in politics, media, and business that highlights how widespread this problem is. Last month, the #MeToo campaign – first created by activist Tarana Burke in 2006 – went viral shortly after the allegations of harassment and assault against movie producer Harvey Weinstein surfaced. All over the world countless women, and some men, shared their own experiences of sexual harassment and assault.
#MeToo was meant to show the world just how pervasive sexual harassment, assault, and misogynist behavior are and to show those who somehow weren’t aware already, just how bad the problem really is. Millions of people used the hashtag, and Facebook reported that almost half of its users knew someone who had made a #MeToo post. That doesn’t even include the many women who preferred not share their stories, but have still been victims of harassment and assault.
Not only has #MeToo called attention to this issue in a huge way, but it has also sparked a larger conversation about gender and how women are treated in our society. For so long these problems have persisted, and women have been intimidated into silence. But since October, so many more victims have bravely called out their abusers. Social media and the #MeToo campaign have helped to support and validate women, which is crucial when so often women feel like they will not be believed or listened to if they speak up, so they choose instead to be silent. The collective voices of so many women supporting and amplifying one another has had a profound and positive effect on this issue, and has given other women the courage to come forward. We are now seeing more men than ever being held accountable for their actions, many of them just now facing backlash for abuse that went on for years. There is still a long way to go, but this is a step in the right direction, and it is heartening to see how social media has helped give women a voice that can no longer be ignored.
Join us in supporting more efforts like this to end violence and harassment against women, and donate to organizations dedicated to this cause.