I was recently contacted by a woman who almost dropped out of her PhD program. Why did she consider doing this? Because of the trauma and stress she felt after a group of men harassed her several times and then retaliated against her when she told them to stop. With some support, she has decided to stay at her program.

But I am still MAD she even felt she had to consider switching programs just because of some jerks on the street.

Street harassment is too often dismissed as being a joke, a compliment or no big deal, but it’s actually a human rights violation precisely because it does make us feel unsafe and to be safe, we feel like we have no other choice but to move, change jobs, switch schools, pick different routes or routines, quit hobbies, and stop shopping at local stores.

No country has achieved gender equality and no country ever will as long as we are unsafe in public spaces simply because we are or present as or are mistaken for being female.

Today is Human Rights Day and it is time for street harassment to be recognized as a human rights issue! It’s time for our government leaders, educators, law enforcement officials, and regular citizens to work in tandem to prevent street harassment.

It’s also time for us to each do our part. Speak out. Take community action. And safe the date to participate in Meet Us on the Street: International Anti-Street Harassment Week during April 7-13, 2013!