Canımız Kampüste: Lessons Outside the Books and on the Streets

Canımız Kampüste: Lessons Outside the Books and on the Streets

Istanbul, TurkeyIstanbul, Turkey
Project Stage:
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Canımız Kampüste breaks the silence on harassment and gender-based violence. Powered by local university students and armed with digital media, Istanbul ‘is alive on campus.’

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The 2011 Global Gender Gap Report ranks Turkey 122nd of 135 countries for systematically disenfranchising women in political and economic life. In the face of daily violence and harassment, Turkish leaders advise women to stay home to prevent ill-treatment. Yet, 42% of women experience physical and sexual violence by a husband or relatives at some point in their lives. Combating a culture valuing female servitude and introversion, Canımız Kampüste targets students as an important first step in a larger movement for openness, inclusion, and progress. This university program uses real-world and digital tools to address women’s issues excluded from public discourse in Turkey: harassment, body image, and economic empowerment.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We talk, we don’t turn away. Canımız Kampüste begins to crack open the silence of harassment through engaging university students in the discourse surrounding street harassment, particularly the topics of economic autonomy, rape culture, and discrimination. We design events with the internal culture of each campus in mind, while also generally focused on self-esteem building, story sharing, identifying responses to harassers, and including men in women’s issues (which conventionally excludes male participation in Turkey). Held each semester, these university initiatives have included: video and photography campaigns by students (Spring 2012 ‘Break the Silence’), student bloggers on our website, workshops providing safety tips in Istanbul, panel discussions, film showings (“Miss Representation” and “War Zone”), student generated art exhibits, and story collections moderated by a psychologist and lawyer.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Students involved in Canımız Kampüste gain invaluable skills and exposure to the real issues affecting gender equality. In our seven workshops, six story sharing events, and 13 panel discussions last academic year, students collaborated, problem-solved, and harnessed effective techniques to respond to street harassment both in instances when they are a victim as well as a witness. Sema, a Bilgi University student, shared: “Apart from the importance of these activities in making harassment visible, I am very happy to now know others who care about changing our reality. This makes me feel stronger in finding solutions for these issues even after I graduate.” Canımız Kampüste shows films like “Miss Representation”, using it as a platform to demonstrate that harassment can be a barrier to professional ambition for women. Through this lens, we encourage female students to take on more leadership positions as Canımız Kampüste Student Leaders and through circulating various leadership opportunities in our online platforms. Also, we have connected students from disparate universities with two online university campaigns through the production of films, images, blog posts and student resources. Using technology as a creative tool and base for political voice against street harassment, female students are rapidly engineering approaches to end gender-based aggression that bar women from public spaces in Turkey and perpetuate a culture of submission.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We are currently the only organization dedicated to street harassment, and the only organization in Istanbul with university programming. Past Canımız Kampüste partnerships have included: LAMBDA (a local LGBTQ organziation) to discuss heteronormative discrimination, Cinsel Şiddete Karşı Kadın Platformu (a website reporting on violence against women) to look at online women’s media, the US Consulate which assisted in holding a free screening of “Miss Representation”, and Zaman and Hurriyet newspapers to discuss harassment in the workplace of female journalists. We will co-host a workshop with Değişim Liderleri Derneği’nin (an organization empowering female students) in Fall 2012.

Founding Story

Our second Canımız Kampüste event was a panel for an audience of over 100 veiled, female students at Fatih University, a university known for its conservatism. We were anxious about our transgendered panelists, Zeynep, who came to discuss the discrimination she receives in public spaces and how it has limited her academic and professional opportunities. Our anxieties proved to be unnecessary as we were all treated with respect, even when Zeynep used the women’s restroom. After the panel, students stayed to ask Sema about her personal beliefs and daily challenges for an hour. We then realized that this was the first occasion for most of the participants to ever openly discuss the experiences of alternative lifestyles in a humanizing and honest way. So moved by this, I was convinced that our focus on awareness and community building events through giving students the opportunity to engage with diverse topics and individuals is a profoundly meaningful and essential project in Turkey.
About You
Canımız Sokakta (meaning roughly ‘We are alive on the streets’ in Turkish)
About You
First Name

Kacie Lyn

Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Canımız Sokakta (meaning roughly ‘We are alive on the streets’ in Turkish)

Organization Country

, Istanbul

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Istanbul

Age of Innovator


Gender of Innovator


How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

We were a recipient of the Worldwide Visionaries Selected Project complete with a grant for $1000 this month. We also are a recipient of the book “The Fire Starter Sessions” given to youth and non-profits looking for progressive solutions.

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Quality.

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to better the lives of girls and women by leveraging technology? (select all applicable)

Access to education/training, Access to economic opportunity, Policy change/advocacy.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Canımız Kampüste’s success is rooted in our priority of story-sharing. We have collected over a 150 stories of street harassment on university campuses in Istanbul, and we predict this number will well over double this fall with our expanded programs. Moreover, we have expanded from working with three universities in Fall 2011 to seven in Spring 2012, through events on safety, harassment awareness, and self-esteem building. We have reached over 1500 students in our on-campus activities, and numerous more in our online campaigns. We have 15 enthusiastic student volunteers, ten of who work as local Student Leaders. These students become empowered leaders on their campuses by coordinating screenings, exhibitions, panel discussions, online resources, and photography campaigns.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

Invited to three new universities for Fall 2012, we also intend to diversify our program to include self defense training, Q&A sessions with a lawyer and psychologist, and self-esteem building through public speaking workshops. Fifteen universities will have Canımız Kampüste programs by Spring 2015, with thirty Student Leaders throughout Istanbul. Our story collection will reach 2,000 stories by Spring 2015 and we will have directly worked with over 6,000 students in our events and reached 15,000 students indirectly through traditional media, social media, campaigning, and word-of-mouth.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

In many of these universities, we partner with a knowledgable and engaged administator, student, or professor who leads our projects for that campus. Dependent on these individuals' initiatives, we are faced with the challenges of sustainability and integration into the universities’ infrastructure and priorities. Although three universities have already internally adopted our work in sustainable capacities, we must prioritize building institutional bonds during the 2012-2013 year more than expanding to new campuses. Financial security is real risk to sustaining our programming over the long term. Thus, we are applying for grants and coordinating fundraising events to fuel support and awareness from the community.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Entering a third semester, Canımız Kampüste programs will be known as a part of the student experience at ten universities.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

We will have had our first successful female empowerment student workshop, in parternship with another Turkish NGO.

Task 2

We will have had a total of thirty events around Istanbul, both on- and off-campuses.

Task 3

We will be sustainable at four university campuses by programming with a student and an academic/administrative department.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

We will have engaged and inspired Student Leaders and their fellow students to become involved in the safety the community.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

We will have 15 Student Leaders, some of who have represented Canımız Kampüste as another face in mainstream media.

Task 2

We will be sustainable at seven universities, with programming planned for the 2013-2014 academic year at each of these campuses

Task 3

We will have 35 events either on-campus at our 11 partner universities or off-campus at central locations.

Tell us about your partnerships

We are partnered with Dreamtree Productions to hold a gallery sale and theater production as fundraisers this year, with the intention of future collaboration. We receive pro-bono services through partnerships with an Istanbul-based law firm (Guneli & Koc Law Firm), PR agency (Paprika), and digital platform developers ( We are also partnered with Değişim Liderleri Derneği’nin to develop programs for female students, and have a working partnership with the US Consulate of Istanbul.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

We have had great success in the media in delivering a clear message picked up by TV, radio, magazines, and newspapers in five languages. Our work has been reported in local, national, regional, and international news, and we would be a strong resource for other initiatives in this aspect.