Girl Fest, Preventing
thru Art and Events
Girl Fest celebrates a second year in the
San Francisco Bay Area and their fourth year in Hawaii, uniting community
members, using art and education, to prevent violence against women and
This amazing, multi-day festival brings panels, workshops,
films, speakers, performers, poets, musicians & bands, politicians, and
activists of all ages together to reach the goal faster. This year, Girl
Fest will be in the San Francisco Bay Area July 19th to the 22nd, and in
Hawaii November 9th to the 18th.
here as Girl Fest Bay Area co-directors, Kathryn Xian and Jessmaya
Morales join WomensRadio Editor-in-Chief, Pat Lynch, on “Speak Up.”
Girl Fest is produced by the Safe Zone
Foundation, an organization that works year round to educate the public on
issues of sex-trafficking, violence and abuse against women and girls. The
Safe Zone organization also implements successful advocacy campaigns to
abolish sex-trafficking and other forms of sex-slavery. In November 2003,
Girl Fest coordinated a well-publicized, peaceful demonstration outside the
business address of Melvin Hamaguchi, sex-tour operator promoting the
“Ultimate Asian Sex Tour,” who soon after shut down his business, Video
Girl Fest was established on the premise
that, whether in San Francisco or the rest of the world, public awareness
and community education are an integral part of the prevention of harm. Girl
Fest furthers awareness by giving girls and women a safe environment in
which to find and express their voices with confidence, speak out about
violence, and educate the community about ways to address all of the myriad
forms of violence against women that are experienced.
Performers and speakers will include fierce
female hip hop artists Mystic, Medusa, and God-Des & She; musicians Jennifer
Johns, Imani Uzuri, Femi, Doria Roberts, Sparlha Swa; Dance companies
Culture Shock Oakland, Sisterz of the Underground, and Velocity Circus;
speakers Aya de Leon, Kim Clark, Aggie Falk, Michael James, Nola Brantley,
Anne Bissell, and Marina Gatto; and poets, writers and comedians Ali Wong,
Bushra Rehman, Rachel Kann, Amber Tamblyn, Andrea Gibson, and more.
The ultimate goal of The Safe Zone
Foundation’s Girl Fest program is to create social change through the use of
educational and artistic media and to advance the development of
institutional and individual policies and programs to promote economic,
social, racial, and gender equality. The immediate goal of Girl Fest is to
prevent the increase in violence against girls and women. They are striving
to change peer culture in order to prevent increasing violence against women
and girls through education, entertainment and positive representations of
women. When girls experience sexual abuse, more often than not, they do not
seek help, call hotlines or tell their parents. They ask their friends for
help, friends who are not equipped to handle situations such as abuse.
The goals of the upcoming festivals are to:
1) Create broad awareness of the
contemporary economic and social issues that face women.
2) Introduce positive role models to young
3) Create a venue for organizational
networking on the subject to form progressive relationships by and between
organizations that work in various ways to end violence against women and
4) Inspire, entertain, and engage audiences
with artistic and intellectual expression with a positive message.
5) Educate youth and adults through
educational curricula and hands-on workshops about healing after abuse
through progressive arts therapy, societal and individual prevention of
violence, community resources, and positive self-expression.
6) Change peer culture to prevent future
Girl Fest Bay Area has gathered a strong
core group of young men and women, local small business owners, artists and
other concerned citizens who are all volunteering their time toward
realizing one mission: to prevent violence against women and girls through
education and art.
Girl Fest provides young women, and the
entire community positive role models, encouragement, tools for avoiding
violence in relationships and life, and information on resources available
to them for counseling, support, shelter and legal advocacy. This is an
event dedicated to educating and empowering the community in order to
prevent violence. Since women make up half of the population, when we suffer
from economic or physical violence, the effects ripple outward to society,
across cultures and across generations.
Millions and millions of women and girls
all over the world are victims of various forms of abuse. In the US, when a
woman is a homicide victim, 30% of the time the criminal is a husband or
boyfriend. Domestic violence and rape occur is escalating around the world
at an alarming rate. Every nine seconds a woman in the US is physically
abused. Every two minutes, a woman in the US is raped. 20%-25% of college
women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape, and 90% of those
survivors know their attacker.
Women are constantly bombarded with
advertisements perpetuating negative stereotypes. In 97% of the 400+ ads a
person is exposed to a day, a woman is represented in a narrow version of a
female role, either as a wife, mother, secretary, or other subservient role,
as a sex object, or in other degrading and compromising situations. Research
indicates that young girls are susceptible to low self esteem and over seven
million women in the US suffer from eating disorders. Combined with sexual
harassment and unbalanced wages, women continue to be treated as victims.
Girl Fest is trying to put an end to these practices and put in their place,
a community spirit that holds women in high esteem.
Beginning prevention in Hawaii:
Girl Fest has been working to prevent
violence against women and girls in a collaborative way since 2003 in
Hawaii. This unique festival has successfully ventured into un-chartered
territory by using the arts and education in an atmosphere of fun and
collaboration to prevent violence in the community. Girl Fest also has used
alternative approaches to education through outreach workshops through the
The leaders of Girl Fest also collaborated
with Hawaii’s social services and educational institutions who share its
mission. Emergency services for abused women are now more visible, and Girl
Fest and its partners have created an environment for women and girls to
come forward and ask for help. In addition, Girl Fest’s Men’s Program has
inspired community male educators to engage in the fight to prevent violence
Girl Fest was established on the premise
that, whether in Hawaii, the mainland U.S. or the rest of the world, public
awareness is not just a passive activity, but an integral part of the
prevention of harm. The festival furthers awareness by giving women and
girls a safe environment in which to find and express their voices with
Through this first step in empowerment,
women and girls may seek ways in which to better their lives through
education, to cultivate their own unique voices, to encourage themselves and
others in collaborative projects—to create their own setting for individual
and social progress beginning with the work they must do within themselves.
Girl Fest and The Safe Zone Foundation
founded the Rape-Free Zone Coalition (RFZC) in order to assist the
University of Hawaii (UH) in taking the lead in preventing violence against
female students on or near campus. The UH System was declared a Rape Free
Zone by Interim President McClain on August 29th 2005.
This declaration was recognized by both
parties to be more than a public declaration against rape, due to a recent
spate of rapes in and near Manoa campus. It is a work in progress in which
the UH collaborates with the RFZC to establish more demanding standards for
security, policies on sex assault, and in creating a viable violence
prevention educational program for students, coaches, athletes, university
administration and staff. The goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of
all students so that their access to a university education remains
unimpeded by issues of criminal sex assault and lack of administrative
The University, the RFZC, the Sex Abuse
Treatment Center, and others collaborated on the first of a series of
educational trainings for the UH students, faculty, staff, administration,
athletes and coaches with the 2nd Annual Girl Fest Hawaii Men’s Program led
by Jackson Katz, leading anti-sexism trainer and founder of MVP Strategies.
This training was an unprecedented event in the University’s history.
For more information on the Safe Zone
Foundation, visit their website at
The program for Girl Fest Bay Area 2007 can be found and downloaded from
their website at
www.girlfestbayarea.org and the program for Hawaii can be found at
Credit: Excerpts reprinted with permission
from Girl Fest Websites
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