From New Delhi to New York and from Mexico to Milan, rape and violence against women is a recognized and documented global issue. The first ever special edition Denim Day Italy took place on May 29, 2015, making GUESS? the first international fashion company to tackle the issue of sexual violence.
It was an honor to be invited to Milan by GUESS? to launch Denim Day Italy. Michelle Santucci, POV Board of Directors, and Ellen Ledley, POV’s Advisory Board, joined me in representing POV for this historic event. The GUESS? Foundation Europe hosted Denim Day Italy with support from the Circle Italia and Di.Re (Donne in Rete contro la violenza), European organizations working on issues of violence against women. The kick off event was a cocktail reception in Milan with guests from the arts, media, politics and fashion worlds along with representatives from groups working to end violence against women. It was a pleasure to address the 350 attendees and to bring Denim Day back to its inspirational source-Italy.
It was fantastic to make the connections in a global arena. GUESS? and POV are committed to bringing the message “Lo Stupro Non E Mai Giustificato”—“there is no excuse and never an invitation to rape“ across borders in deep and impactful ways. With GUESS? under the leadership of its CEO and Creative Director, Paul Marciano, the message is being heard that the days for the never ending excuses for violence against women and girls and victim blaming are over.
While in Milan, I had the opportunity to visit a domestic/sexual violence center in Milan, The Casa Delle Donna Maltraite and spend time with their directors and staff. Thank goodness they spoke more English than I do Italian. They are part of Di.Re, the first Italian coalition addressing issues of violence against women with 120 centers across the country. This exchange of knowledge about how we run programs and comparing philosophies pointed once again to the importance of having a strong and solid international Violence Against Women’s movement.
Traveling to Italy for Denim Day Italy was a dream come true and on my personal bucket list! Sixteen years ago I was inspired by the female parliamentarians, who organized a protest in jeans on the steps of the Italian Supreme Court in Rome, to launch denim Day in LA! For 16 years, through Peace Over Violence’s Denim Day campaign, we have been dedicated to changing attitudes and social norms regarding sexual violence. We have made enormous progress but there’s still a lot of work left for us to do. This year people from 118 countries pledged to wear jeans with a purpose. The Denim Day Global movement is underway. What a thrill it was to walk around the streets of Venice, Italy and come across the GUESS? window displays at their stores featuring Denim Day and POV with our messaging that there’s no excuse and never an invitation to rape! It was moving and inspiring to witness all the GUESS? stores lit up with our logos, inspiring messages and calls to action to get involved, become educated and help end sexual and domestic violence. Viva Italia! Viva GUESS?! The Denim Day movement is alive and well and spreading. As I have said before, POV has a voice, but with GUESS? we have a megaphone! Or in Italian…a megafono!