The Bandana Project is a public awareness campaign aimed at addressing the issue of workplace sexual violence against farmworker women in the United States. It is an art-activism and advocacy project that serves as a healing tool for women across the U.S., Mexico and other countries.
The Bandana Project was created by Mónica Ramirez in 2007 when she was directing Esperanza: The Immigrant Women’s Legal Initiative of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The project was created as a part of Esperanza’s national initiative to raise awareness about sexual violence against farmworker women in the workplace. Today, it is led by Justice for Migrant Women, the organization that Ramírez created in 2014 to scale Esperanza’s work into a stand-alone non-profit.
Community members, community organizations, advocates, governmental representatives, lawyers, anti-sexual violence activists and many others decorate white bandanas with words of encouragement, motivating statements, inspirational pictures and art. These bandanas are then hung in a public place as a visible demonstration of our support for farmworker women and our commitment to ending this problem.
Thousands of bandanas have been decorated around the US and in different parts of the world.
Workplace sexual violence against farmworker women has long been a rampant problem in the agricultural industry. In fact, one of the first studies conducted in California in the 1980s found that 90% of farmworker women state that sexual harassment is a major problem. More recently, 80% of farmworker women surveyed in the California Central Valley in 2010 reported that they had experienced sexual harassment at work.
For many years, farmworker women have used layers of clothing, including hats and bandanas, as shields to help protect themselves from harassment and sexual violence while working in the fields. The Bandana Project uses white bandanas as a symbol of the sexual exploitation of farmworker women.
In solidarity, farmworker community members, advocates and other individuals decorate white bandanas to honor those who have taken action to hold the perpetrators and their employers responsible for this violence. These bandanas are also a show of support to victims whose shame and fear prevents them from taking action. Allies decorate these bandanas in an attempt to help support, fortify and empower farmworker women as they face this difficult problem in the hopes that they will no longer have to suffer in silence.
Still today, the problem of workplace sexual violence against farmworker women persists. It is critical that we continue to send the message to perpetrators that we support farmworker women and are calling for accountability. No one should be forced to give up their dignity in order to feed their family. Join us by by raising awareness about this epidemic. Help us send the message that we will not tolerate sexual violence in the workplace -- or any place.
The entire month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but we must fight all year long and participate in whatever way we are able. We appreciate all of your support to further this cause and all of the creative ways that all of our partners are contributing to this effort.
Use social media platforms to help raise awareness about workplace sexual violence against farmworker women - and all women. Support the Bandana Project and educate the public about how we are trying to put an end to this problem.
Post pictures, graphics and news articles about the issue. Post pictures with your decorated bandanas. Post on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook and tag Justice for Migrant Women (@mujerxsrising) in the photos and use #BandanaProject as a hashtag. We will re-tweet/share/re-post to help spread the message far and wide to perpetrators that we will not remain silent in the face of this problem.
Perpetrators use the silence around this issue to victimize individuals. “Abre la plática” (open the discussion) about an issue that is often taboo by hosting decorating events in small or large groups.
You can decorate the bandanas with a group of community members or co-workers and discuss the issue of sexual violence in the workplace. You can also make a plan for future outreach on this issue.
Collaborate with area anti-violence organizations, anti-sexual assault coalitions, legal services offices, private attorneys, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or other agencies to plan an educational forum to talk about sexual violence prevention, to inform community members about their rights in the face of workplace sexual harassment and sexual assault inform as well as the resources available to help them if they do become victims of sexual violence. We must empower women to overcome their abuse.
Organize a group of friends and community members to meet in a small group at someone's home to discuss the problem of sexual violence and the resources available to help victims. Some community members may feel safer and more comfortable participating in a house meeting rather than a large community event.
Set up informational tables, including one dedicated to the Bandana Project, after a local church service, parent meeting, or at a popular community location.
Displaying your decorated bandanas and the Bandana Project flyers in a public place, like a community center, health clinic, or an office waiting area.