Reflecting on Womankind’s Participation in 25 Years of Denim Day

Reflecting on Womankind's Participation in 25 Years of Denim Day

The 25th Anniversary Denim Day March and Rally held particular significance this year, not only as a milestone in the ongoing fight against sexual assault but also as a testament to the resilience of survivors. Womankind—which has been dedicated to supporting survivors of gender-based violence for more than 40 years—played a pivotal role in both participating in and planning this event, embodying the theme of "25 Years #SurvivingAndThriving."

Denim Day, a movement born out of a troubling Italian Supreme Court decision in 1998, stands as a powerful symbol of solidarity with survivors and a rejection of victim-blaming attitudes. The court's ruling, which overturned a rape conviction based on the survivor's choice of clothing–a pair of tight jeans–sparked outrage and activism. This year marked a quarter-century since the inception of the Denim Day rally by Peace Over Violence, with the theme emphasizing not just survival but also the strength and resilience of survivors.

Womankind's involvement in Denim Day has been long standing, spanning well over a decade of active participation and support. However, since joining the planning committee in 2022, the organization has taken on a more proactive role, ensuring its voice is heard at the city level and deeply engaging with the community. Collaborating with various stakeholders, including service providers, advocacy groups, grassroots organizations, and governmental offices such as the NYC Mayor’s Office to End GBV and borough president's offices, Womankind has worked tirelessly to mobilize staff, survivors, and community members for the rally.

This year, our message of solidarity and education was paramount, with Womankind reaffirming its commitment to combatting sexual violence and supporting survivors. Denim Day is not a fashion show. Denim Day serves as a poignant reminder of the harmful stigma and stereotypes that survivors face, particularly in cultures where victim-blaming attitudes are normalized. "Womankind is honored to lead the fight against sexual violence in New York City and stand in solidarity with survivors and allies,” says Jennifer Le, the organization’s Manager of Community Education and Outreach. “Womankind wishes healing, surviving, and thriving to all on the path to end gender-based violence."

Moreover, the rally underscored the reality that many survivors are retraumatized by biased systems and cultures that perpetuate victim blaming and tolerate rape culture. As a culturally specific organization, Womankind recognizes the importance of amplifying the voices of survivors from diverse backgrounds and challenging entrenched norms. Through education, advocacy, and support services, Womankind strives to empower survivors and dismantle the structures that enable gender-based violence.

Womankind's comprehensive approach to supporting survivors of sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence encompasses a wide range of services tailored to meet the diverse needs of survivors. From a multilingual helpline to counseling, emergency housing, economic empowerment programs, and legal assistance, the organization provides a lifeline for survivors who seek to build a path to healing.

In essence, the 25th Anniversary Denim Day March and Rally served as a powerful reminder of the progress made in the fight against sexual violence while highlighting the ongoing challenges that survivors face. Through collective action and unwavering dedication, organizations like Womankind continue to champion the rights of survivors and work towards a future free from gender-based violence.