The #MeToo movement is inspiring change in the State of Hawaii. The State Commission on the Status of Women is now offering a first-of-its-kind #MeToo prevention training. The one-hour instruction session is free and available by request by any public or private organization, workplace or classroom.
Typical sexual harassment training programs in Hawaii and nationally focus on legal frameworks and solutions that rely on criminalization or civil sanctions. Many mandatory sexual harassment trainings are also often held online or in a depersonalized setting.
The #MeToo Prevention Training will provide a new model by targeting the cultural conditions that make sexual harassment likely to occur in the workplace. The prevention training curriculum includes discussion of the American gender system, examination of our collective participation in the normalization of sexism, and concrete strategies to change an organization’s culture to a more inclusive, safe environment for all women.
“Thanks to the #MeToo movement there is now a recognition of the systemic character of men’s abuse of power in the workplace,” said Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women Executive Director Khara Jabola Carolus in a Mar. 2 news release. “Everyone knows that sexism, and sexual harassment and violence, are part of everyday life for the majority of women. It’s time for a collective response.
“Sexual harassment is one form of something bigger happening against women,” Jabola continued. “We need trainings that have a level of social awareness and discussion.” Jabola said sometimes law isn’t the answer. “We have underestimated the power of institutionalized practices and unspoken social norms on the status of women. Culture should teach respect for women and not tolerate sexism, regardless of whether that sexism is legal or illegal.”
Another goal of the #MeToo prevention training, which was inspired by local community activism, is to make sure individual women don’t risk their jobs and their family’s economic security when they speak up about sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and violence.
“Training isn’t a magic bullet but it opens a difficult conversation on the treatment of women in a safe, inclusive way,” said Jabola. “Hopefully, it will spark other ideas and engage even more people to join the work of co-creating a new culture where women are treated as humans.”
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