The #MeToo movement opened a national conversation about sexual harassment against women, but less attention has been paid to harassment against girls. With its #GirlsToo campaign, the nonprofit Girls Inc. is working to shift the focus to include all ages.
On Dec. 10, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber, Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica Garcia, city councilors Signe Lindell and Renee Villarreal, and leaders from Solace Crisis Treatment Center and NewMexicoWomen.Org joined Girls Inc. CEO Kim Brown to sign a pledge against sexual harassment and violence. Girls Inc. of Santa Fe is the local chapter of a national nonprofit dedicated to empowering girls.
“The hope is that the pledge is a good platform to start the conversation so that people not only realize that [harassment] happens daily to young women, but also realize how their own beliefs and expectations and behaviors contribute to the epidemic of sexual harassment and sexual violence towards women,” Brown tells SFR.
Before the signing of the pledge, Girls Inc. showed a video of several local high school students speaking about their experiences with sexual harassment.
“I’ll be out in public and men will check me out or catcall me even if I’m with adults or my mother,” Leevee Martinez, a 16-year-old Santa Fe High School student, says in the video. “They will explicitly say things that are not appropriate.”
“This is a very critical issue in the country, it’s a critical issue in Santa Fe,” Webber said at the press conference. “Our goal is going to be to put an end to sexual harassment and sexual violence against girls and women, and—even more important, perhaps—to change the whole perception of girls and women embedded in our society. This is an issue of power, an issue of equity.”
Part of the pledge states that “I recognize that our society perpetuates violence against women and girls, and I am committed to help change the culture.”
“I think for the mayor to be here as a man and as a white man in a powerful position in our city,” Brown says, “it’s really important for him to step forward and say that he acknowledges that these things happen and that he will not only reflect this in his own behavior, but encourage people around him to do the same. It sets a great modeling for young men as well as his peers.”