Through Her Eyes is Southwark Council’s campaign tackling misogyny. Centred on a highly impactful video, the campaign encourages men and boys to challenge their own attitudes and behaviour, and that of others. This was distilled into the one key campaign message - 'see it, stop it'.
Southwark's 'Through Her Eyes' campaign confronts men and boys with the impact of ‘everyday’ sexist behaviour through a girl’s eyes, to show the cumulative impact it can have. The campaign encourages men and boys to challenge their own attitudes and behaviour, and that of others. This was distilled into the one key campaign message: see it, stop it.
The campaign budget was £30,000 from the Home Office’s Safer Streets Fund. It was spent on video production, photography, poster design, digital and social media advertising, and 6-sheet posters in known harassment hotspots.
National crime data and the council’s survey on women’s safety in Southwark (2021) shows that sexual harassment in public spaces is among the most frequently experienced behaviours:
- 62 per cent of women and girls in Southwark have been sexually harassed in public.
- 71 per cent of women of all ages in the UK have experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space. This number rises to 86 per cent among 18-24-year-olds.
Everyday harassment sits on a continuum of abuse. Seemingly small acts – cat-calling, leering, unwanted touching – are not isolated incidents. They are fuelled and excused by the same sexist attitudes and beliefs that underpin full-blown violence against women and girls (VAWG).
It is not for women and girls to adapt their behaviour to avoid unwanted attention or to keep themselves safe. That’s why Through Her Eyes is a behaviour change campaign targeted at men and boys.
The campaign is ongoing, centred on a highly impactful video that shows men and boys everyday sexual harassment through a girl’s eyes.
The objective of the campaign was to show the reality of everyday sexual harassment and encourage men and boys to challenge their own attitudes and behaviour, and that of others. This was distilled into the one key campaign message: see it, stop it.
Strategically, Through Her Eyes delivered on Southwark Council’s commitment to launch a major campaign to tackle misogyny in the borough. Tackling VAWG has been a priority for the council for a number of years, as seen in their Domestic Abuse Strategy from 2015-2019, and their current Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy 2019-2024.
The campaign strategy was to:
- Use simple messaging, image-led design and a powerful video to encourage men and boys to call out sexual harassment.
- Resource schools and youth organisations with the video and supporting material to educate young people about what behavior is unacceptable and how they can make it right.
- Engage with politicians, influencers and media outlets to keep male violence against women and girls on the agenda, and to raise the profile of the campaign.
- Utilise media to showcase the video and political endorsements to gain further recognition of the issue.
During adolescence, young people may establish new values and behaviours that are different from close others which tend to last. This is important because misogyny is learned: sexist attitudes have been handed down generation after generation.
As such, the council decided to target young men and boys aged 16-25 years old in Southwark. The council feels this sets Through Her Eyes apart from other VAWG campaigns that may have historically focused on women as victims, or men in general.
However, the content of the campaign is relevant to people of all ages. The council engaged audiences who could support and promote their campaign, to widen their reach and impact, including:
- MPs and policy makers
- local football clubs
- VAWG-related organisations.
To be an effective prevention campaign, Southwark Council had to make misogyny personal for men and boys. This helped form the basis of their brief for a video and poster artwork that was won by agency Nice and Serious.
From concept to conclusion, every component was tested with their target audience. They ran focus groups throughout the process where young people steered the campaign – both the creative direction and content. These included members of Southwark Youth Parliament and Southwark Young Advisors.
In the video and poster artwork, the gender roles are swapped. The narrative follows a teenage boy who is forced to navigate sexual harassment from women and girls on his way to school. The actors and settings were chosen specifically to reflect Southwark and its diversity.
The campaign timing was tied to White Ribbon Day (25 November), the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women and Girls. This coincided with the start of the World Cup during which we see a spike in VAWG crime.
Launch included a special assembly with over 80 sixth form boys (aged 16-18) at South Bank University Academy. Some of their feedback included:
In its first three months, the campaign video has been watched over 350,000 times across the council’s social media platforms, gaining the support of politicians, local and national organisations, the police, businesses, schools and other local authorities.
The council also secured high profile advocates of the campaign including; the Mayor of London and Harriet Harman MP, and organisations including Millwall FC to increase visibility of the campaign. The campaign was picked up by national, regional, local and broadcast media, including an exclusive with the Daily Mirror.
How is the new campaign being sustained?:
With the help of a local school, Southwark Council developed a resource pack for schools and youth groups to use alongside the campaign video to aid engagement sessions about misogyny and sexual harassment. The hope is that the video will become an established resource within PSHE education for many years to come.
- Let’s Talk About Women’s Safety Survey (2021) – Southwark Council (568 respondents)
- Prevalence and reporting of sexual harassment in UK publics paces (2021) – All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for UN Women, pg. 6.
- The Adolescent: Development, relationships, and culture (2008) – Rice PF, Dolgin KG.
- Engaging adolescents in changing behaviour (2020) – Strömmer, S., Barrett, M., Woods-Townsend, K. et al.
- Tackling violence against women and girls - Southwark Council