The #MeToo movement that spread across the internet in 2017 sparked a focus on sexual harassment as an international issue. However, collective action against sexual harassment did not start with the #MeToo campaign. Grass-roots work that has been taking place for years against sexual harassment has been hidden by the more recent spotlight on a (white) Western perspective. This IDS Bulletin presents the genealogy of collective action around countering sexual harassment and looks at the power dynamics that have informed the representation of that collective action. It seeks to pluralise voices, experiences, and insights that offer opportunities for learning, and to show the pathways for mobilising for accountability. The articles here specifically aim to address the questions of ‘What triggers and enables collective action for countering sexual harassment to hold powerholders accountable? Under what conditions is it effective, and under what circumstances is it stalled?’ Perspectives are shared from Australia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Egypt, India, Lebanon, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, and Uganda. They demonstrate a whole spectrum of experiences from well-defined and visible collective action to contexts where voices are still silenced. Collective action, this IDS Bulletin argues, is critical for transforming sexual harassment into an issue that is everybody’s business, and accountability must be for the long haul. Recognising the successes of activists fighting sexual harassment, wherever they are located, is essential to the global fight against this phenomenon.
Volume 51 Number 2
Published: September 23, 2020