A Guide Written by the Women Behind GGE to Combat Sexual Harassment
Girls for Gender Equity is an organization based in New York City that is breaking stigmas to create more opportunity for women and girls to live self-fulfilling lives. Through education and hands on advocacy, GGE is dedicated to improving gender and race in society by providing girls and women with proper resources for economic, psychological, and physical development.
Aside from the many advocacy programs and initiatives that Girls for Gender Equity is actively pursuing, they have also found a way to take part in helping girls and young women prevent sexual harassment and violence through their Feminist Press published book Hey, Shorty!
Hey, Shorty! was published in 2011 and is listed on its cover as “A Guide to Combat Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets.” The book is written by the organization’s founder and two of its directors who have worked first-hand with the girls and young women of New York City, allowing them to see just how necessary the writing of a book like this was.
Being a native New Yorker, this book hit close to home in terms of opening my eyes to the hard truth behind what girls and young women of this generation must be aware of to keep themselves safe, as well as calling out the holes in the system put in place for them. But with this guide, and their knowledge, I can see how clear the possibility for positive change really is.
And that is not to say that the notions put forth in this guide is only relevant to New Yorkers. While reading, I kept thinking how awesome it would be if this book were utilized as a textbook guide for more students in school. The information and experiences they present within the book should be conversations that are spoke about on a more normal basis in school systems, and I do believe this guide to be useful on a general basis. Other advocates, students, teachers, and parents could find use of the information handed to them within this book based on real girls and young women and their actual needs.
GGE holds Title IX close to them, which is a civil rights educational amendment placed in 1972 that states that any school funded by the government must provide equal rights to all students regardless of gender. GGE began fighting for what it protects as well as having the desire for it go more in depth (because sexual harassment is heavily overlooked under this amendment), at a time when the Department of Education wanted to demolish three important clauses that would determine their compliance to the legislation. All of them had to do with creating a more inclusive environment for women to play sports.
And GGE did not back down to that. These women got out there into educational institutions and they spoke to these girls- fighting for them every step of the way. For example, one author expresses that certain girls were not excelling in their athletic requirements at school because they felt uncomfortable not only changing into their gym clothes, but because they felt they were constantly being called out for their gender or being sexualized for it. So instantly, they began creating more athletic opportunities for young women and girls in school and recreationally.
They also speak on their program called Sisters in Strength, a youth organized internship that is run by teen girls and advocates for enforcing sexual harassment policies in schools by raising awareness through workshops and direct action. It is awe-inspiring to see what these women have gone through to establish programs like this that have reached hundreds of young people to help educate them and promote their positive decision making.
Girls for Gender Equity advocates for girls and young women to not only listen and learn, but to get involved in a direct way. It allows them to not only build community, but to strengthen their bond so that they may empower each other in future endeavors. Their programs allow young women and girls to be seen as more than future mothers, sexual objects, or lesser adults. It’s about proving to them that through their education and decision making, there is so much more for them.
I urge everyone to read Hey, Shorty! so that they may open their eyes to the hidden stigmas that are so heavily placed against girls and women of color in educational institutes. And if you are a parent, whether to a boy or a girl, I find it to be a highly influential manual for important aspects of our children’s lives that we may overlook without realizing.
I commend the women of Girls for Gender Equity for everything they are doing, and am so grateful that Our Galaxy is able to find a way to directly advocate for their organization. For the whole month of July, we will be donating 100% of the proceeds from select items in our shop to the organization. You can shop them here.
I hope I get to personally thank these women for their work one day.
-Christine Weimer, @beacolorfulyou