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March 25, 2013

The New Change Agents


Photo Credit: Jeff Riedel

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CAUSE: Addressing street harassment

TWITTER: @nualacabral

AUDIENCE: 54,158-plus people watched her video about harassment on YouTube

IMPACT: Galvanized an online conversation about women's rights

Backstory: During her 20s, Tufts University film graduate Nuala Cabral lived in several different cities and had a similar disturbing experience in each; she'd get bombarded with sexual comments from men when she walked down the street alone. Cabral says she felt powerless. "In a matter of seconds, you had to think, Am I in danger? Is anyone else around?"

Action plan: In 2009 she produced Walking Home, a short film about street harassment. The four-minute black-and-white video features women walking down a sidewalk as a faceless voice catcalls and taunts each one. A female narrator fires retorts such as "Sexy is not my name." Cabral uploaded the clip to YouTube and Vimeo, and posted it on Facebook.

Results: Within a few months, anti-street-harassment activists began sharing the video on their online networks--it's since been viewed more than 54,000 times. In 2011, Walking Home won the Speaking Out Award at the nonprofit Media That Matters Film Festival. And schools and community centers have hosted screenings of the film with discussions moderated by Cabral, who works full-time as manager of communications and media productions at the University Community Collaborative of Philadelphia, a youth leadership nonprofit at Temple University. "I'm trying to make street harassment taboo," she says.

Today: Cabral is a cofounder of FAAN (Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now) Mail, a media literacy and activism project focused on changing the way women of color are portrayed in the media.

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