The Institute for Women’s Policy Research is a great ally of anti-street harassment work and they are interested in conducting street harassment research if they can find funding for it. They asked me to write a guest blog post about the need for more research. Here is an excerpt and you can read the full post on their blog, FemChat.
“….After four years of learning, writing, and speaking about this issue, I know there will never be gender equality until street harassment ends. I also understand that policymakers are hard-pressed to make significant changes without data that illustrates a problem and without research suggesting policies that could improve the problem.
This is where we reach the catch-22.
To truly address street harassment, we need citywide, statewide, and/or nationwide studies to give us concrete data about its prevalence, the impact it has on women’s lives, and why it happens (and thus what we can do to prevent it). Then policies can follow.
These important studies require funding to be conducted well (I did my informal survey online, with a shoestring budget). Funders often hesitate to put money behind an initiative that has not been proven to be a problem. Street harassment hasn’t been proven to be a problem because there are so few studies. There are so few studies because there is no funding…and back and forth and back and forth.
This is unacceptable. In the United States, we take pride in our country being the land of the free, but that’s not true for women. Girls routinely face harassment on their way to school and when they are out with friends, and women routinely face harassment on their way to work or while running errands – particularly if they walk or take public transportation. They should not be penalized because of this catch-22.
It’s time to break the cycle. It’s time for a smart funder to realize that the stories, informal data, and studies from the 1990s support the need for new, comprehensive studies that can inform new policies—and help make our streets safe and free for girls and women, as well as for boys and men.”
So if anyone has funding available or knows about an organization/foundation that would be interested in funding street harassment research, let me and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research know. More data will make our case stronger and better equipped to ask for policy changes.