"Walk a Mile in Her Shoes"

TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 1, 2009) – Men in high heels mean serious business when they march to draw attention to the issues of rape, sexual assault and gender violence Oct. 8 from noon to 2 p.m. at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” march begins at the Marshall Student Center and continues in silence around campus except for several locations along the march's path where statistics about violence related to women will be read.


“While the sight of hairy legs in pumps might bring smiles to people’s faces at first, we want everyone to stop and think about how they can help end these forms of violence,” said Eileen Dabrowski, president of USF NITE (Necessary Improvements to Transform our Environment), organizer of the event. “This pervasive global problem shows up in every locality but it can be stopped through education and a strong response from every community.”


The United Nations World Health Organization reports, “Gender-based violence, or violence against women (VAW), is a major public health and human rights problem throughout the world.” This problem cuts across social, economic, nationality and increasingly, age groups. 


Male participants are encouraged (but not required) to walk in women’s shoes. A limited number of high heels in various sizes will be available for men who do not bring their own.  Men and women are encouraged to bring shoes for use in the event and everyone (including last-minute registrants) is invited to participate. In addition, men will be asked to sign a promise to end sexual and relationship violence.  After the march, shoes will be donated to the Family Justice Center of Hillsborough County.


“One in three women has experienced gender violence in her lifetime. A woman is raped every 90 seconds in America,” said Frank Baird, founder of the march. “That means someone you know, someone you care about has been the victim of sexual violence. This violence does not just affect women. Men are hurt and angered when women they care about are raped. Men are hurt and angered when they try to develop relationships with women in an atmosphere of fear and mistrust and blame. And the same violence that targets women also targets men because rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power, control and violence.” 


"During hard economic times, relationship violence and other forms of abuse increase, so it is vital during this recession that men stand up," Dabrowksi said.  “The male participants from the USF community will show women and other men that violence of any kind will not be tolerated and that they are willing to take a stand against this paramount issue.“


This event is one of many being held internationally and is sponsored at USF by NITE along with the USF Advocacy Program and REAL (Relationship Equality and Anti-violence League). In addition, support is also coming from the USF Army ROTC, the USF Police Department, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the Pan-Hellenic Council. 


“It is truly gratifying that so many men on our campus want to show their solidarity to end gender violence,” Dabrowski said. “This is the second year NITE has brought this empowering event to USF. Last year we were fortunate enough to receive Outstanding Student Program of the Year for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. It definitely made an impact and we hope it will again this year.” 


For more information visit: www.walkamileinhershoes.org or www.usfnite.com.


The University of South Florida System is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as

designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The system offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. It has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.