A coalition of powerful feminist organizations today announced the launch of a new campaign taking aim at sexual violence and harassment in workplaces and schools—and the patriarchal systems that allow them to remain pervasive.
The #EnoughIsEnough campaign—made possible by a collaboration between the National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, National Congress of Black Women, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Legal Momentum and UNITE HERE—will bring together a diverse pool of advocates and activists to develop effective strategies aimed at bringing about substantive change to prevent, address and remedy sexual harassment and violence in workplaces and schools.
“Over the last few months, very brave women have brought attention to a toxic problem that has been rampant in our society for a very long time,” Toni Van Pelt, president of NOW, said in a statement, referring to a re-invigorated #MeToo movement that has broken the silence around sexual harassment from Hollywood to Washington, D.C. “The conversation about sexual harassment and assault needs to include both the stories of survivors and new ways to address and prevent hostile environments in workplaces and school in order to end the culture of abuse of women.”
The #EnoughIsEnough campaign will also shine a light on the communities of women workers who don’t make headlines when they experience sexual abuse on the job. Low-income women, who often lack the resources and financial means to fight back against harassment at work, will be a central focus of the coalition’s efforts. Nearly two-thirds of the 20 million low-wage workers are women, and more than a quarter experience sexual harassment on the job.
“Women employed in every industry and sector, including agriculture and other low-paid positions, have historically confronted wide-spread workplace sexual violence,” Mónica Ramírez, President of Alianza, said in a statement. “It is more important than ever before that we unite to find solutions to ensure that all women can work with dignity and without fear of violence against them.” Last month, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas released an open letter from women farmworkers to the women speaking out against harassment in Hollywood, declaring solidarity with their fight for justice and highlighting their own unique struggles with gender-based violence and discrimination.
Ramirez’s sentiments were echoed by Maria Elena Durazo, General Vice President for Immigration, Civil Rights, and Diversity at UNITE HERE. “Our union has been combating sexual harassment at work before the national conversation caught up to us,” she said in a statement. “We are incredibly proud of our dozens of UNITE HERE union hotel housekeepers who had the courage to not only speak out about what happened to them, but go on to lead and win campaigns for new protections in the hospitality industry.”
The women represented by organizations like Alianza and UNITE HERE also often face additional barriers to justice due to the intersections of racism and sexism, and they’re not the only ones. #EnoughIsEnough is also focused on carving out spaces to address both the gendered and racialized elements of patriarchy and sexual violence. “In order to change the culture around sexual violence, we must also center the voices of women of color whose stories often fall through the cracks in and out of their communities,” E. Faye Williams, President of the National Congress of Black Women, said in a statement. “We need to create a space that allows women of color the opportunity to speak on solutions that will work for the specific needs of their communities.”
#EnoughIsEnough advocates and allies are committed to supporting the survivors who are breaking their silence, and ensuring that their brave decisions to step forward result in meaningful changes. “We are calling for a radical shift in how our government and institutions investigate complaints of harassment and sexual violence,” Carol Robles-Roman, President of Legal Momentum, said in a statement. “We insist that a renewed culture of system-wide accountability and enforcement of basic rights take hold with national partners leading the way.”
That kind of accountability can’t begin and end in the workplace. That’s why, in their work toward institutional changes that end sexual harassment and violence, the #EnoughIsEnough coalition is also focusing on the experiences women and girls have in schools. “Beyond just the workplace, we cannot leave out students and educational institutions when we’re talking about rampant sexual harassment and assault,” Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, said in a statement. “One in five women students are survivors of campus sexual assault. The movement on campuses, led by student activists, is growing and cannot be ignored.”
#EnoughIsEnough campaign partners will be convening a one-day summit this coming February to craft initiatives to end misogyny, with a focus on actions that will promote early intervention, improve policies that outline responsibility and accountability, remove abusers from their positions of power and rectify the economic toll sexual harassment and abuse can have on victims.
Amid a flood of #MeToo testimonials that have proven how widespread and institutionalized misogyny and violence are, feminists have had enough. “The old ways of dealing with sexual harassment and assault—secrecy, avoidance, denial and excuses—are crumbling in real time,” said Van Pelt. “New solutions are needed. We must be tough on perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault and tough on the causes as well. Men must no longer treat women as objects but with respect as equals.”