OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Say 'NO' Day

​Say 'NO' Day is a campaign for the right of women to speak up! In low-income settings, where sexual harassment is a part of everyday life, many women simply do not know their rights to say NO even when they have the chance.

Photo of Cansu Akarsu
9 22

Written by

After experiencing a sexual harassment, Marika Shioiri-Clark says 'Had I unknowingly implied to him that this was acceptable behavior by not speaking up sooner?' in her inspiation post  'Understanding the Power of Shame.' During the moment of sexual harassment, many women feel shocked, they try to act cool and not make a scene. This indeed implies that we accept a wrong behavior and encourage the man to continue further.

When sexual harassment is a part of everyday life, when we read about rape crimes on the newspaper everyday, we have a tendency to accept these behaviors. Many women are unware of their rights to say NO and raise their voice when they suspect that someone has started to assault them. 

Say ‘NO’ Day aims to become a campaign where women all around the world shout 'NOOO' at the same time to create awareness on their rights to speak out! Imagine a single moment when the whole world shouts - This big NOOO represent all the single NOs that vulnerable women have not said for ages.

The campaign spreads awareness about forms of sexism that women may not even be aware of, and get them to practice saying no to it on a daily basis. Besides, women in different parts of world can be educated on their rights, schools can teach girls about how to act during a sexual harassment, and many more. Let's shape it together!

Explain your idea in one sentence.

Say 'No' Day is a campaign for the right of women to speak up as soon as possible during a sexual harassment.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

During an awkward moment of sexual harassment, a vulnerable woman needs the courage to raise her voice and say NO, STOP, GO AWAY! The aim of the campaign is to create awareness and support for every woman to realize that she is not the only one and she CAN speak up.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

Through expats and community workers in many different organizations, Say 'NO' Day can have ambassadors throughout the world to celebrate the day.

Where should this idea be implemented?

All around the world.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lisa di Liberto

This is straightforward concept. I like it! It's like Take Back the Night. It is sad that in 2014 we, as women still have to fight for a basic right, which is being able to move around without fear or having to fend off a sexual assault.
To make something like this happen create a business plan type format, where, like here, your model is based upon questions that are asked and you have the answers. What would make it succeed? What could be an obstacle? Turn any negatives into a positive. That will allow you to expand upon your idea. How to make it happen is the next step. You can start small with a pilot program at a school or community center in low income areas.
If you know parents with school aged children you might approach them with this idea once it has been formulated. In NY the police department sends a representative into schools to teach children how not to talk to strangers. Saying NO needs to become part of everyones vocabulary, as does understanding NO. Primary school is a great place to begin, but you keep the ball rolling at all ages.
Contact your local district assembly person once your idea is formulated. Present the idea and how you might get this up and running in a local school or community center. Keep it going. Use Kick starter to rasie necessary funds. Social media will make something successful like this go viral = global.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Your suggestion of community centres made me think about how street plays might be used to promote the saying of "NO" – by role playing different scenarios where 'no' is an appropriate response. Perhaps seeing this in action might help people gain confidence to say it?

Photo of Cansu Akarsu

Hi Lisa and Meena, thank you for your feedback. I love how Lisa has written a perfect execution plan for the concept:)

Including 'NO' in our vocabulary might be very cultural. It starts with simple things: in Turkey, a guest can not say 'No' an offered food. Growing up with the knowledge that 'No' is rude might influence young girls a lot.

I guess the questions is, through which channels and which activities do we change this behavior? Going through schools is a great input - this could also teach young boys to respect the 'No.' Influencing the stories in school books and cartoon on the TV could also have an impact like street plays.

Photo of Lisa di Liberto

HI Cansu and Meena!
Thank you both for your observations and feedback as well. I like the idea of street plays which Meena mentions as another way to empower women's behavior. The street is a perfect stage! I envision women playing the roles of both women and men in what might actually occur on the street. The part of an onlooker might be the one to shout out "NO" in response to threatening behavior caused by an assailant towards a woman. Within that timeframe other onlookers in the street play might join in and the feeling of empowerment begins as the threat is no longer one on one or many to one. It might prove that within the throes of the play, this message begins to prompt understanding of the strength and power women themselves endure with each other and for each other.

Including men in these street plays doing some role reversal might send out a message of everyone thinking about the word "NO" in an empowering way that frees one from harm. Playing the part of the attacked may help other men and boys think about these actions towards women. Then when someone shouts out "NO" how might they think about it differently and the behavioral effects it has within their culture? How is unacceptable behavior held accountable?

Cansu, in answer to your question regarding which channels behavior is changed, the school environment lends itself to many options. Imparting this message through skits written and performed by and for both girls and boys about something that has happened to them or someone they know. Teaching them that the person being threatened is not the only one who has the power to say "NO" and have it mean something, like the street play onlookers.

Afterwards, a question & answer session might take place as an opportunity for everyone to talk about it. What did "NO" make them feel like when they heard it? When they shouted it out? What action did "NO" enact? What are the end results when "NO" is said and respected?

We might come up with a starter kit containing a standard script that would invite students to customize it pertaining to the behavior they see happening in their cultures. We might include questions for a Q & A and the 'Say "NO" ' logo printed on stickers for students to use.

Schools might invite a community member to watch the skits and participate in the conversation. The books you mention can be written by students, self published in creative way as an opportunity to share their own accounts with others around the word "NO" or what they wish it to be. Performing it, living it, talking about it, understanding it is a beginning towards change.

The Turkish influence you mention, not being able to refuse an offering of food might turn "NO"into a negative connotation as you suggest. Little boys are with their mothers during a threatening moment just as much as little girls. Learning at a young age and understanding the power of the word "NO" is where behavior begins to change.

View all comments