Business Name: Hollaback!, a non-profit movement to end street harassment
Type of Business: Social Enterprise
Business Location: New York, New York, United States
Reason for starting
Hollaback! started in 2005 as the project of seven youth (three men and four women). As the women told story after story of harassment, the men became increasingly concerned. Samuel Carter, who is now Hollaback!’s board chair, said quite simply, “you live in a different city than we do.” Collectively, they resolved to change that. Around the same time, a woman named Thao Nygen bravely stood up to her harasser – an older, upper middle class raw-foods restaurant owner – who terrified her by masturbating across from her on the subway. She took his photo with her camera, and when the police ignored it, she posted it on flikr, where it incited a city-wide conversation about street harassment. The youth were inspired by Thao’s story, and decided apply her model to all forms of harassment and to document these experiences on a public blog.
How do you define success?
We’ll know we’re successful when the experience of street harassment has changed: victims know what harassment looks like, they know it’s not acceptable, and they know there are systems in place they can use to make a difference.
In two and a half years, we’ve gone from trained over 200 activists from 62 cities and 25 countries around the world who have launched their own Hollaback blogs on the iHollaback.org platform, creating a unified organizational hub. Our site leaders are young and diverse: 75% are under 30, 50% are under 25, 44% are LGBTQ and 33% are people of color. We’ve built an incredible community. I feel so lucky to be a part of it.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
As we move street harassment from an issue that was isolating to one that is sharable, our top challenge is convincing people that street harassment happens, it matters, and it has deep impacts in our lives.
Who is your most important role model?
Our site leaders. They are doing this against all odds in communities around the world. My job is to make sure the world knows how awesome they are.