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The Fight for Women’s Rights Beyond #MeToo

Collective action against sexual harassment did not emerge with the #MeToo campaign. And in several countries, particularly in the Global South, that campaign has overshadowed existing movements and impeded ongoing struggles for women’s rights.

BRIGHTON – For most people, the #MeToo movement has become synonymous with campaigns against sexual harassment. The movement – which went viral in October 2017 – undoubtedly mobilized women and spurred positive change. But its prominence in media coverage and political discussions of sexual harassment has also been problematic, overshadowing activism for women’s rights in other parts of the world that predates the emergence of #MeToo.

In many countries, social movements had already been taking on sexual harassment and abuse for decades. Many of them, including campaigns like #MeshBasita in Lebanon, HarassMap in Egypt, and the “Shefarers” in the Philippines, emerged long before the rise of #MeToo, or were overshadowed by it.

A new publication by the Institute of Development Studies brings together reports on women’s rights activism in countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Egypt, India, Lebanon, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Uganda. The authors cover a wide spectrum of experiences, from well-defined and visible collective action to activism that happens behind the scenes in order to safeguard women’s lives.

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