The plan was heavily influenced by DC’s first roundtable on street harassment in December 2015 where 30 people testified about their experiences as targets and bystanders of public sexual harassment and assault. We heard women of color sharing their stories of harassment that quickly escalated to assault and transwomen sharing their stories of physical and sexual violence on the street and at shelters meant to serve them.
We recognized that, while we’ve worked hard over the years to raise awareness that layers of oppression affect the ways that different people experience street harassment, our programs need to be better tailored to address the needs of those who are most vulnerable.
We have to step up our efforts to make public spaces safe for people who are homeless and face gender-based harassment in the places that they sleep—public transit, sidewalks, and shelters. We need to focus our efforts on serving people of color who experience the most severe forms of harassment and most often see it escalate to assault.
We need to find community-based solutions to address the problem for people who have been harassed and assaulted by police officers and feel that they have nowhere to turn for support or justice. We have to build safe public spaces for everyone.
Here are our strategic goals for 2016 (first in nonprofit mumbo jumbo and then translated by yours truly):
1. Ensure organizational stability through financial growth.
Translation: We need money. It allows us to advocate for community-based solutions to stop harassment while we build programs to serve folks who are unsafe in public spaces. Please donate so we can achieve the following:
2. Develop a comprehensive approach to addressing public sexual harassment and assault, taking into account sexism, racism, classism, cissexism, heterosexism, ableism, housing status, and other layers of oppression.
Translation: We need intersectional programming. We recognize that street harassment is more severe for people who face additional layers of oppression, and we’ve identified transwomen—and particularly transwomen of color—as the population at greatest risk of experiencing violence in public spaces. In our program plans, we’re prioritizing their needs.
3. Increase impact through improved data collection and program evaluation.
Translation: We need to make a difference. And we need to back it up with numbers. One of our first projects this year is to work with city leaders to collect citywide data on harassment, determine our baseline, and then measure our impact over time. First, we want to see greater awareness and increased reporting of sexual violence—a sign that we’ve brought about cultural change by demonstrating to harassers and their targets that this behavior is unacceptable. In the long term, we want to reduce harassment citywide and make DC safer.
4. Foster a respectful, inclusive, and collaborative environment for staff and volunteers.
Translation: We need to take care of our people. Our work is powered by the passion, dedication, and hard work of an incredible group of diverse volunteers. If we want to sustain our work and live up to our feminist values, it’s important for us to put structures in place to ensure the health and happiness of our mostly volunteer staff.