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Why Buenos Aires' new catcalling law is a victory for women everywhere.

A new law takes away creeps' free pass to catcall.

Why Buenos Aires' new catcalling law is a victory for women everywhere.

On April 2, 2015, Aixa Rizzo posted a video on YouTube about the lewd comments hurled at her on a daily basis.

The video went viral, with over half a million views in just a few days. Rizzo, a student from Buenos Aires, titled the video "Sexual harassment on the street: from a compliment to a violation."

In the video, she describes being subjected to incessant catcalls and lewd comments. She says the male construction workers working on a building near her home unapologetically catcalled her every day. It made her feel uncomfortable. It made her fear for her physical safety.


Rizzo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo by Natacha Pisarenko/AP.

One day, she recalls in the video, three of the men followed her. She heard one ask another where they should take her. She stood her ground, gripped her pepper spray, and let them have it once they were close enough. She was prepared to defend herself by whatever means necessary.

The men accused her of overreacting. When she later asked police to write a report, the officers suggested the men were simply giving her compliments. They agreed to write up the report only after she told them the explicit nature of their so-called compliments. Finally, after an agonizing month of consideration and denial from other people, she took her concerns public. Enough was enough.

Her words in the video struck an important chord that would lead to tangible change in the right direction in Bueno Aires.

After Rizzo's video went viral, city lawmaker Pablo Ferreyra was inspired to introduce legislation. He told BBC, "Some forms of sexual harassment in public are accepted as a traditional part of our culture. That should not be a reason to tolerate this abuse."

The law would impose a $60 fine to catcallers in Buenos Aires, including anyone who commented about or made reference to a woman's body parts.

Image via iStock.

In a bold and powerful move, the city council in Buenos Aires approved the anti-catcalling measure on Dec. 7, 2016.

After all that Rizzo and women like her have been through, it's a big deal. It means that her story and the stories of others have made a difference.

Violence against women is up in Argentina, with a 78% increase since 2008. The country passed a law against femicide in 2012, making domestic violence and honor killings illegal, but that was less than five years ago. There's still a long way to go when it comes to making things safer for women.

A 16-year-old girl's brutal rape and murder in October could have also played a part in pushing this important law forward: Lucía Pérez was drugged and raped by at least two men before being left at a hospital, where she died as a result of internal injuries. Her death sparked an outrage, and people took to the streets using the hashtag #NiUnaMenos (#NotOneLess).

The passage of this legislation means that people's collective voices were heard, and that's incredible.

In broader terms, this new law also makes it illegal in Buenos Aires to capture images of genitalia without consent, engage in unwanted physical contact, pursue someone, or engage in public masturbation or indecent exposure.

It's true it's only a fine for now; it's not enough just yet. But it is a step in the right direction. This law means men like the ones who made Rizzo feel unsafe might think twice before making lewd comments and threatening bodily harm.

Rizzo recognized this revolutionary legislation in a celebratory tweet, too:

It reads: "The law against sexual harassment on the street is a big step towards getting rid of violence against women from the start."

This new law sends a strong message to the world that this type of behavior is not OK.

It shows that there's hope for all of us: Things can change for the better when people stand up against injustices. That's always something worth celebrating.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez