Girls Inc. Launches #GirlsToo Campaign, Highlighting Sexual Harassment and Violence Epidemic

Girls Inc.

While the #MeToo movement brought the epidemic of sexual harassment and violence against women into the mainstream, Girls Inc. realized that it left out high school and college-age girls, a demographic harassment and violence do not discriminate against. In response, the organization launched #GirlsToo, aiming to highlight and address the problem of sexually charged harassment and violence against young women in this country.

One in 4 girls is subject to abuse or assault by the age of 18, while 7 in 10 reported to being harassed at some point in high school. With those statistics in mind, #GirlsToo works to “shift the deeply entrenched norms that lead to harassment and violence in our society, and to create a culture where all girls and young people grow up safe, respected, and valued.”

The campaign includes three steps, beginning with recognition of the fact that there is an epidemic of harassment and violence towards girls in this country, taking steps to become part of the solution, and creating change in minds and communities across the country. “Together, we will create a more equitable society that values and promotes the dignity of girls and all young people,” the mission reads.

To get started, Girls Inc. encourages visitors to the sign the #GirlsToo pledge, which includes agreeing that everyone should be treated with respect, that discrimination, harassment, and violence against girls harms everyone, and vowing not to accept harassment and violence against girls as normal.

Using the “respect” acronym, the campaign lays out easy ways for anyone to get involved and begin to make a change, even on a small level. The steps include “reflect on your biases and challenge gender stereotypes,” “educate youth about healthy relationships and consent,” and “support and believe survivors who come forward.”

Girls Inc. was originally founded in 1864 to support girls whose lives were affected by the Civil War. The organization has evolved since then, but its core values have stayed the same. Girls Inc. has always and continues to place “importance on creating a safe gathering place for girls to learn and to share in a sisterhood and a strong premise that each girl can develop her own capacities, self-confidence, and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.”

In 1945, Rachel Harris Johnson founded Girls Clubs, which now number 250 and serve 250,000 girls nationwide, many of whom come from low-income families. The organization has grown significantly since its beginnings in 1864, but continues to operate based on the belief in the “inherent potential of each girl.”

“The levees have broken. Women and girls are coming forward to speak truth to power,” writes Girls Inc. president and CEO Judy Vredenburgh. “This is a movement that needs all of us, including our young people.”

Cover image via Girls Inc. Tarrant County.

Also published on Medium.