Two years ago, we surveyed our entire network of girls to better understand the issues they face. They told us their number one issue area of concern was bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. Now here we are in 2018, with almost every news outlet talking about harassment and assault, and everyone asking what must change and where to go from here.
Today, on the one-year anniversary of the date when the #MeToo hashtag went viral, we are proud to announce the launch of our new campaign, called #GirlsToo. This national campaign will focus on sexual harassment and assault in the lives of youth, particularly girls, with actions aimed at addressing the norms and stereotypes that fuel these behaviors.
Alarmingly, about 7 in 10 girls are sexually harassed by the time they leave high school. And one in four girls is the victim of sexual violence by age 18. A recently released survey of young girls between the ages of 14 and 19 found that 3 out of 4 girls feel unsafe at least once in a while. The majority also said they hear boys making sexual comments at least several times a week.
Sexual harassment and violence is an epidemic, and the problem starts at a young age. The #GirlsToo campaign will focus on building a culture of respect for girls today and generations to come.
As a first step, we are encouraging youth and adults to take the #GirlsToo Pledge at girlstoo.girlsinc.org to show their support and commitment to taking personal steps to build a more equitable and safe future for girls and all young people. The campaign will also provide resources for youth, parents, educators, and other concerned adults to help them discuss these issues and make changes in their lives and communities.
We must unite to shift the deeply entrenched gender norms and stereotypes that have a harmful and lasting impact on girls. Changing norms around sexual violence is possible, but it requires participation and commitment from everyone. We are excited to work with a powerful network of girls and partners to champion the change we seek: a society where girls – and all youth – are safe, respected, and valued.