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Real Girl Leaders : Jaida Montgomery - Addressing Street Harassment

Today's Real Girl Leader is Jaida Montgomery.  Jaida is 16 years old and a student at Codman Academy in Dorchester, MA. Below is Jaida's community change idea describing her actionable and realistic project to answer the question, "What would you change about the role of women and girls in your school, community or city?"

Putting an End To Street Harassment One Day at A Time 

"Ayy yo beautiful, you lookin' good today."  "You can't give a boy yo number" "You ain't cute anyways b****, I was doin' you a favor"  These are the typical statements I have heard, at least once a week, yelled to a young female in my community  Being raised and having lived in the Mattapan vicinity for almost seventeen years, I have been able to see first hand how many women have been treated like "a piece of meat."  Young women are disrespected, harassed and devalued.  From my own experience, I have been mistreated and made to feel unimportant.  Street harassment make me, and many of my peers feel uncomfortable.  

In the past, when faced with the above scenario, I would kindly say thank you then keep it moving with what I was doing.  To be honest, I was afraid and would end conversation as soon as they started to avoid any type of altercation with this male.  In these types of situations I feel like I am obligated to say "hi" when people speak to me.  But when they want to continue the conversation I feel like I have to continue so I don't get into any danger.  Yes I have fear to walk the streets because I hear about so many incidents that happen relating to rape, kidnapping, and other type of activity that doesn't have my consent.  This problem happens to a lot of young women around my neighborhood and people that are close to me.  When I ask them who do they go to for additional help, they reply saying they have nowhere that they can really turn because they feel that they are alone- but in truth they are not.  There are many young women, in my school, in my neighborhood and at my church who feel this way; I know because I've asked them.   With all the fear that exists in the community, it could possibly turn into violence, domestic or street violence, which in my opinion is avoidable.  


My goal, in winning the IGNITE Change contest would be to create a safe space where young women, like myself, can come, feel comfortable and share common experiences with other young women.  Young women in this predicament need to be aware that there are others in the same situation, and that they have support nearby.  

With that being said, if I were given the opportunity to ignite change in my community my goal would be to create a space where females within the ages of 13-19 could come and feel comfortable.  During their time there they would attend workshops and activities that are taking place that day.  These workshops would take place once every month, every time they attend there will be a different topic.  Below is an overview of how the program would run:
Workshops (Once a Month)
Ages 13-19
Group Size 15-20 students
Month 1: September
1. Greetings
2 . Icebreaker
3. Why did you decide to come - How did you hear about this program?
4. Warm up Workshop on Body Knowledge and Respect
5 Closing
Month 2: October
1. Check in
2 Workshop on Self Worth and Self Esteem
Month 3: November
1. Check in
2. Guest Poet or invite BARCC to speak
Month 4: December
1. Check In
2. Workshop on Self Defense - Girls Leap
Month 5: January
1. Check In
2. Arts & Crafts dealing so we can sell and donate to a cause/charity (BARCC)
Month 6: February
1. Check In
2. How media view women (social image)
Month 7: March
1. Check In
2. Party
3. Closing
I am currently a senior at Codman Academy, in addition to graduation requirements, college applications and leadership commitment I've made to several extra-curricular activities, I am taking the time to write about this because this is important to me.  I believe that I should be able to walk down the street and not be yelled at. I know I may not be able to change the world, or the actions of others, but I can definitely begin to change how I feel, and most importantly how the women in Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury communities feel after being harassed.  

Volunteers to come in and do the workshops: Free

Refreshments: (30 per session/7 sessions) $210
Photographer - Free (I will be able to do this while hte workshops are going on)
Space/Location (Ideally, a free community space, Mattapan Library) Free
Ordered food for ending party
1. Pizza - $10.00 a box (4 boxes) $40
2. Chips - $15
3. Drinks $10
4. Party Favors - Balloons from iParty (2.99 each x 6 = $17.945. Gift Cards (finishing the program successfully, participants would be gifted to a gift card) @20 participants @ $20 each) $400

The costs listed below are to provide the material for participant to create miniature mosaics to put in community space with the hopes of raising awareness about street harassment

6. Gallery Glass Window Color 2 Ounces - Crystal Clear & Clear Frost $3.14 per block I will order 25 Blocks = $78.50
7. Gallery Glass Window Color Set (A.C. Moore_ - $18.69
8. Rub 'n' Etch Glass Etching Stencils (A.C. Moore) - $5.49
Total Cost - $806.27
To learn more about how you can IGNITE Change, support Jaida and our other Girl Leaders or enter our contest, email
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