Day of Action against Harassment 2006


YWAT Members Lead A Community March on Day of Action

The YWAT is always looking for new ways to engage our local community and city to take action on street harassment. Based on the success of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Week in October 2005, we decided that it was important for the YWAT to launch a decentralized, community-focused campaign that could engage disparate groups of people. Chicago has been called the ‘most segregated city in America.’ This is illustrated by the way that the city is racially and economically polarized. The YWAT understands that as individuals and as a group we must always be educated about our context and our city. It is rare in Chicago for people to leave their neighborhoods to associate with others. There are only a few venues where we, as young people, can meet our peers across neighborhood boundaries. Some of us can do this at our schools; others do it at work. The YWAT has also been able to connect with young women across the city through our participation in the local coalition – Females United for Action.

The Day of Action originated out of our desire to make sure that everyone hears and internalizes the message that “the streets belong to ALL OF US.” The goal of the Citywide Day of Action was to have 100 different “actions” resisting street harassment across Chicago on May 4th 2006. The objectives of this campaign were to:
1) Raise the public’s awareness that street harassment is a HARM and a form of violence against women and girls.
2) Build a base of individuals who are committed to ending street harassment.
3) Demand community accountability for the eradication of street harassment by involving ALL community members in this effort.
4) Document the resistance to street harassment through the creation of a photographic exhibit and zine that will capture the events and actions of the day.

We invited youth and adults to participate in the day of action against street harassment in whatever way they saw fit – organizing a rally in their neighborhood; handing out flyers at the El; presenting a workshop to their peers; dancing on the street corner; creating public art – the possibilities were endless. We asked that participants “document” their action through photography and/or writing.

We used many tools and strategies for recruiting Day of Action participants. In November 2005, we contacted Jane Ball, who is a YWAT volunteer and a member of the Pink Bloque []. The Pink Bloque is a Chicago-based radical, feminist dance troupe that uses creative resistance to engage people in addressing social problems [e.g. the War in Iraq, Rape, and Sweatshop Labor]. We asked Jane if she and other members of the Pink Bloque could present a workshop about how to use creative resistance to address street harassment. We decided to pair the Pink Bloque’s workshop along with a Day of Action organizer’s meeting on January 28th 2006. We created a flyer and publicized the “organizer’s event and workshop” through e-mail, regular mail, and at local community spaces like the library, local park, and social service organizations. About Forty people attended the “organizer’s meeting” which was held at Loyola University. They were able to listen to us talk about street harassment and the Day of Action. We distributed an organizer’s packet that we developed for the campaign. The Pink Bloque led a fun and lively workshop and at the end we asked people to sign up if they were planning to organize their own action on May 4th 2006. Twelve people volunteered as organizers for the Day of Action in their own community.

From there, we publicized the Day of Action through our networks. We published announcements about the campaign in local newspapers like AREA and RP2000. Articles also appeared in local newsletters from organizations like Impact Self Defense and online at YWAT members Jonnae Taylor, Daphnee Rene and Lillian Matami appeared on a local radio show called “Live from the Heartland” on April 15th 2006 to promote the Day of Action and invite people to get involved. YWAT members along with Mariame Kaba also publicized the Day of Action at conferences and workshops where we were presenters. We also attended a board meeting for Chicago NOW to enlist their support and ask them to help publicize the event. Finally, we reached out to our elected officials and invited them to support our effort.

Next, we had to decide what “action” we would take as a group. We discussed a number of ideas but several of our members thought that we should organize a community march. This led to a number of conversations about the merits of organizing a march. Some of our members were concerned about our safety as young women and expressed the fear that people “might throw rocks at us.” We decided that if some members didn’t feel safe marching; they did not have to attend. No one would be forced to take part in a public event that made them feel unsafe. However, the majority of us felt that a march would make a visible statement to the community that we are demanding safety for girls and young women in Rogers Park. We believe that community accountability is the key to really lessening street harassment. We also decided that we would work very hard to publicize the march locally so that we would have a number of community members who would participate. This would make young women and men who were nervous or fearful of retaliation feel safer and supported.


Over 140 individual and collective “actions” took place across Chicago on May 4th 2006. The following is a sample of a few of these actions.

YWAT Members Rally with A Marching Band on Day of Action

Rogers Park YWAT
The Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team (YWAT) is sponsoring a community march to Support Girls’ Safety on May 4th 2006 at 5:30 p.m. Starting at Loyola Park (1230 West Greenleaf Ave), ending at the Morse EL.

Students from the Associated Colleges - Urban Studies Program Create a Banner for their Action

Associated Colleges of the Midwest [Urban Studies Program]
Students are planning a public action for May 4th. They will hand out literature and big flowers {which will say “flowers are beautiful, unwanted comments are not;” give a gift to mothers STOP STREET HARASSMENT). Students will also display a large banner and they will be wearing a t-shirt with different statement (such as MY NAME IS NOT BABY…STOP STREET HARASSMENT). The students will be doing their action in front of the State of Illinois building from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.

Between Friends
The REACH team at Between Friends will host 10 workshops on street harassment for students at Budlong and Darwin Elementary Schools on May 4th 2006.

Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline [YWCA of Metro Chicago]
Hotline volunteers will work the CTA Red Line Stations of Berwyn, Bryn Mawr, Granville, Morse, Jarvis, and Howard. Volunteers will distribute a pamphlet that lays out in no uncertain terms how to NOT participate in a Rape Culture. Volunteers will be out in front of the EL starting at 7am.

Depaul University
Feminists in Action and Sigma Lambda Gamma are hosting street harassment awareness and education as to how to deal with certain situations. Along with a street harassment rally from 8-11 am and at 5:00 they will be demonstrating in front of Depaul’s student center on Sheffield and Belden.

Feminist Sociology Writers
The Feminist Sociology Writers Group will wear “Because the Street Belong to All of Us” buttons on May 4th 2006.

Girls in the Game
Girls in the Game will host a workshop on street harassment for the girls in the Wicker Park community.
Where: Wicker Park (1425 N. Damen Avenue)
When: Thursday May 4th 2006 – 3:30 to 6:00 pm.

Members of the Girls in the Game program at Wells High School will be creating educational pamphlets on street and sexual harassment and distributing them outside of their school.

Girlfriends Group Rock their Anti-Harassment Shirts

The Girlfriends Group [Noble Street Charter School]
The Girlfriends group is planning to wear buttons on May 4th to support the Day of Action against Street Harassment. Young women will also tell their stories about street harassment at a school assembly on May 12th and hand out flyers to those in attendance.

Girl World [Alternatives Inc.]
The young women in Teen Group at Alternatives Inc plan to host a forum in support of the Day of Action against Street Harassment. On Thursday May 4th from 5-6:30 pm, the Alternatives Girl World Teen Group will meet with young men from the Lakeview, Rogers Park, and Uptown communities in order to talk about their personal experiences with sexual harassment. The participants will define sexual harassment, hear from young women affected by this issue and develop an action plan for dealing with this issue.

Global Girls
On May 4th, Global Girls will facilitate co-ed workshops on sexual harassment at Westinghouse High School and South School of Leadership. Each workshop will last 90 minutes and involve juniors and seniors. Group members will review materials on sexual harassment, discuss how it impacts males and females and develop a plan to share what they’ve learned with their peers.

Hopewell M.B. Church
The Hopewell M.B. Church, located at 6600 S. Hermitage, will post RESPECT flyers to support the Citywide Day of Action against Street Harassment [Rev. Cartha McKenzie Sr, Pastor].

IMPACT Chicago
IMPACT Chicago will post a fact sheet on self-defense against street harassment on its website and send the Fact Sheet to its mailing list.

Literature for All of Us (LFAOU)
LFAOU will dedicate 7 of its weekly book groups to discussion of street harassment with young women and men in various parts of the Chicago and Evanston. Youth will engage in discussion of street harassment via poetry and hypothetical scenarios as well as have the opportunity to write in response to their discussion.

Marion Nzinga Stamps Youth Center
The Center’s dance line, flag team, and drumline will support the YWAT’s Community March on May 4th 2006 at 5:30 p.m.

Mayor Daley’s Region 1 YouthNet
We will participate in the YWAT sponsored community march while wearing ORANGE and the button.

Mikva Challenge
On Wednesday May 3rd, the Mikva Challenge will distribute a notice and informational material on street harassment awareness to teachers at over 50 Chicago high schools. We will encourage them to discuss street harassment with students for at least five minutes on May 4th. The Mikva Challenge will also post an announcement and some informational material prominently on its website for the week of May 1-5. Finally, the Mikva Challenge staff will wear ORANGE on May 4th in commemoration of the Citywide Day of Action against Street Harassment.

National Runaway Switchboard
The National Runaway Switchboard (1-800-RUNAWAY) will receive YWAT’s flyer on How to Get Involved in the Day of Action, one week before and on the day of. We have also posted information in our Call Center for our volunteers to read and become aware.

Northwestern University
Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc at Northwestern University will be taking part in events on May 4th. We will host an educational workshop and pass out information about street harassment on campus and at “The Rock” which is our biggest statue on campus that most students pass daily. We will also be taking part in the YWAT sponsored community march.

Rogers Park Youth Intervention Program
We will participate in the YWAT sponsored community march as well as wear ORANGE.

Sullivan High School [Gay Straight Alliance]
We will have a meeting focusing on street harassment, create posters for the YWAT march, participate in the march, and encourage others to participate.

The Sparkle Foundation
The Sparkle Foundation will be supporting YWAT and their movement to resist street harassment by wearing the color ORANGE on May 4th.

Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self-Defense Center
The teen class at Thousand Waves will participate in the Day of Action by dedicating each yell, strike, and kick to stopping street harassment of teen girls.

University of Chicago
A group of students are hosting a film screening and discussion to support the Day of Action against Street Harassment on May 4th 2006.

University of Illinois at Chicago
UIC students will hand out pamphlets and buttons on campus to commemorate the Citywide Day of Action against Street Harassment. This action is being spearheaded by the UIC Campus Advocacy Network.

Women and Girls’ Leadership Project, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health & Metro Seniors
Staff from these three groups will be watching the video War Zone on May 4th 2006. War Zone is a video that raises important issues about street harassment.

Members of the Youth Service Project Prepare for their Action

Youth Service Project
Staff and students will stage an action on North Avenue during the evening rush hour and pass out flyers about sexual harassment – what it is and what can be done about it.

Youth Service Project Members Conduct their Action


• Almost 200 people attended the two YWAT Community Marches in Rogers Park.
• A number of community groups and individuals submitted their documentation of their actions. The YWAT created a zine based on all of the information and photos submitted to us. We hosted an event in December 2006 to release the zine.  A copy of the zine can be downloaded in the resources section.
• The YWAT also created a day of action DVD with the help of BeyondMedia Education.  That DVD will be uploaded to our youtube channel in the coming weeks.
• Overall, YWAT estimates that Day of Action engaged over 7,500 people in Chicago.

Check out the resources section for access to the Day of Action Zine among other things!

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