Women On Tap gears up to launch its fifth festival and deliver a very clear message: ‘We stand with you, united against harassment.’
One of the first sessions to open the fifth annual festival, on Wednesday, 9th June, is entiled United Against Harassment and will be delivered in collaboration with international youth-led movement, Chalk Back.
A frank virtual discussion and plan of activism, a hard-hitting social media campaign, and a live chalking event will be delivered as part of the festival. The virtual event will be led by Sophie Sandberg, founder of Catcalls of NYC and Chalk Back, and Farah Benis, founder of Catcalls of LDN and part of the Chalk Back leadership team, alongside representatives from Women On Tap CIC.
The free event will be a panel-hosted interactive discussion that looks at:
- Harassment: what it is and its impact.
- Some results from a sexual harassment in hospitality survey undertaken by Nichola Bottomley (Women on Tap) in 2019 and her follow-up from 2021 — a look at if/ how things have changed, and why.
- Reflections on the recent events following Brienne Allan, production manager at Notch Brewing, in Salem, asking: “What sexist comments have you experienced?” And the subsequent experiences shared with Siobhan Buchanan in the UK.
- The industry and its responsibility to make workplaces and venues safer.
- Accountability and actions that can be taken.
Participants will have the opportunity, as part of the session, to share their own experiences (written down on a piece of paper and held up).
Participants will also be invited to send in questions beforehand/during of things they’d like to address on the topic so these can be answered in the last part of the session.
Acknowledging and taking action against harassment will underpin the full festival. A 5 Days Of Action social media campaign will be launched following this session, and three days of live chalking events will take place at bars across Harrogate, where people will have the chance to book a slot to have a drink, chat to the team about harassment, and chalk their own experiences on a board.
Women On Tap founder, Rachel Auty, approached Chalk Back with the collaboration idea in April. She said: “At Women On Tap we’ve done a number of things on harassment previously, and it’s important to me to use the festival to tackle these serious matters. Change won’t happen overnight so we keep going.
“Right now we need to look at how we take the experiences shared and use this re-established awareness to turn it into action and make sure we aren’t standing still in our efforts. We need to all look at how we can do better and hold each other to account in the interests of the people and this industry we love.”
It’s not the first time Women On Tap has tackled the issue of harassment head on. In 2019 a personal experience led to Women On Tap’s own beer guru, Nichola Bottomley, creating an online survey on sexual harassment in order to understand the wider issue better.
648 completed the online survey, and from the responses some key take-aways were:
- More than 80% of respondents said yes, they had witnessed sexual harassment while working in a pub or bar
- More than 80% of women said yes, they had experienced sexual harassment while working in a pub/ bar (more than 30% of men said they had, too)
- 50% of respondents said they had never reported sexual harassment they witnessed to pub or bar staff
- Only 30% of women said they felt very comfortable going to a pub or bar by themselves (compared with almost 80% of men)
This month has seen an outpouring of sexual harassment experiences from across the globe on social media as Brienne Allan, production manager at Notch Brewing, in Salem, asked: “What sexist comments have you experienced?” The responses are pinned as highlights on her Instagram profile @ratmagnet. Siobhan Buchanan (@britishbeergirl) picked up the baton in the UK and a number of high-profile UK breweries were cited.
In the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, the World Economic Forum predicted that, at the current rate of change, it would take 99 years for there to be social and economic gender parity.
The events of 2020 have been a further setback in equality progress. According to the 2020 Women in the Workplace study by McKinsey & Company, women — especially women of colour — are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed as a result of covid-19.
What’s more, vital support systems such as school and childcare have been upended, and as a result more than one in four women are now said to be considering downshifting careers or leaving the workforce completely.
In addition, a new report from the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, at King’s College, London, shows women have been marginalised in covid-19 media coverage in almost every subject, with the exception of traditionally female issues including childcare, domestic violence, and education.