Hollaback - Crowd Sourcing an End to Street Harassment

By co-founding Hollaback, Emily May is making street harassment as culturally unacceptable as sexual harassment in the workplace, by naming and raising visibility of the problem, and establishing systems and accessible tools to effectively report and address it.

May is an Ashoka Fellow. The Hollaback project was a finalist in the Changemakers competitions She Will Innovate and Revelation to Action. Your Place. Your Idea. Your Change, and May was one of 15 American Express Emerging Innovators in 2012.

Since 2010, Hollaback! has grown from a handful of sites to operating in 65 cities in 22 countries. Because so much of the work is powered by volunteers, Hollaback! has been able to grow quickly at relatively little cost. Her budget has seen a 35 percent annual increase since her formal launch in May 2010, reaching $3 million in kind in FY13-14. To date, more than 350 site leaders have been trained, and have launched active Hollaback! chapters in 71 cities in 24 countries.

In 2010, there were no funding portfolios dedicated to street harassment, digital movement building, or online feminism. However, during the past three years, NOVO and the Caruso Foundation have explicitly included street harassment in their portfolios – thanks, in part, to the explosive growth of the street harassment movement over the last three years. The UN has launched its own anti-street harassment initiative, and copycat efforts have sprung up globally.

At a policy level, May and her team inspired the world’s first-ever hearing on street harassment in New York City, with the result that today, individuals can directly report harassment to the council member in the district in which they were harassed. In London, local Hollaback! leaders worked with the government to develop Project Guardian, where 2,000 officers who police the city’s public transport network have been trained to deal with sexual offenses and a reporting hotline has been developed.