#WOMENWORKINGPROJECT

 
 

ABOUT THE PROJECT

The “Women Working Project” is a community, media and arts project under the Just Sy Design brand. The project is dedicated to raising awareness on women’s issues in the workforce through community building and visual arts and media. It provides a way for women to connect and take action on issues within their communities, while sharing their stories.

As I walk the streets of Harlem, I get the opportunity to interview women from all walks of life; from corporate to street vendors. Some topics I hope to cover and discuss include the inequalities in pay and opportunities, work/life balance, harassment and what everyday life is like while making ends meet in New York City. The end result of the project is to compile the interviews into a documentary, releasing in October 2017, in hopes to inspire and empower women to make change towards the betterment of their lives and communities.

 

WHY IT STARTED

What really sparked my interest in pursuing this project was a construction sign in my neighborhood that read “Men Working”. At the moment, I couldn’t really explain my feelings, but I knew I was upset. Then I took some time to think about it and I thought about the significance of the sign in literal terms such as “How are construction workers (men) really working when every time I pass by I always get cat called or harassed?” But honestly, I didn’t want to be just “Another Bitch", so I decided to go with more of an empowerment angle, which I feel is more useful and constructive. This won’t be a man bashing campaign but rather a platform for women to speak on their experiences in the workforce.


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During the PHENOMENAL Collective  on 8/14/16 on the steps of the great Maya Angelou.

During the PHENOMENAL Collective  on 8/14/16 on the steps of the great Maya Angelou.

HOW IT STARTED

Since I am a design activist, I thought about making art and posting it on my website or social media, which wasn't a bad idea, but I wanted to make a statement. I wanted something eye catching and creating a replica of the “Men Working” sign would do just that, but of course with the exception of the word “Men”.

Once I thought of that idea, I couldn’t stop thinking of it. So I went to a local art supply store to pick up the materials for it. A 30x30 stretched canvas, one can of orange spray paint, black paint and vinyl letters. The second I made that purchase I felt a sense of pride! I couldn’t stop smiling because I knew that what I had in my hands was going to make a huge impact. The next day I grabbed all the materials and headed to the FDR to begin the first phase of the sign which was to spray paint. It seemed like the perfect day; 70 degree weather, sunny Saturday morning. I put my cap on backwards, covered my face with a bandana, put my headphones on and went to work.

It started to become more real to me the following weekend when I started to apply the black border and vinyl letters. I started to see my project come to life. I was a little emotional about it, but I knew that this was only the beginning. If I had anything to be emotional about, it was going to be when I heard the stories of the women I was going to interview while the sign was in the shot. It seemed even more real to me when I brought the sign downstairs to the front of my building to shoot the promo shots and it caught the attention of two men. They did a double take and stopped, then yelled, “That’s right girl, hold that sign up and be proud.” At that moment was when I realized that my initial anger with the “Men Working” sign was with the actual words because these men were in full support of the movement. It made me curious to see if more men shared the same sentiments.