Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter and Rep Daneya Esgar, along with several other state representatives*, coauthored a piece in Time's Motto in an effort to turn the #MeToo campaign into real life policy.
The crux of their message:
We see it. We live it. We power through it. Every day. And we are saying enough. That’s why we have spoken out, sponsored legislation and demanded change. We need change in our state houses, in our schools and on our campuses, on our streets, and in our workplaces. And big change starts with the states.
The women address several issues and how they might be handled at the state level:
- Funding prevention programs, providing resources to survivors and defeating legislation that harms survivors
- Put in place workforce protections to address the fact that about 70% of people do not report harassment at work
- Improve services available to survivors to address the fact that 53% of counseling programs in rape crisis centers have a waiting list
- Put in place protections for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses and address the fact that one in five women and one in 16 men will be sexually assaulted while in college
- Require and fund comprehensive prevention education for our young people
The piece notes that women make up a mere 24.8 percent of state legislatures but over 20,000 women have considered running for office after the 2016 elections, and they exhort all of us to take action:
You can join us, too. The onus to fix this immense problem isn’t on the victims. Bystanders who witness sexual harassment can also help create a culture of accountability for perpetrators. Call your state legislators, reach out to your state sexual assault coalition, be a part of a culture that holds offenders accountable, discover resources for help if you’ve suffered from harassment and you, too, can help make #MeToo more than a hashtag.
*The full list of coauthors: Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, South Carolina; Rep. Daneya Esgar, Colorado; Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, California; Sen. Sara Gelser, Oregon; Rep. Renitta Shannon, Georgia; Rep. Teresa Tanzi, Rhode Island; and Rep. Litesa Wallace, Illinois.