News | 20 October 2021

"Not asking for it" – Students campaign against sexism

An anti-sexism initiative started by two students in grade nine at IES Linköping has grown into a movement attracting national interest.


For the past year grade nine students Rita Grainca (left) and Malia El-Solh (right) have worked to draw attention to sexism among students and in society at large.

Malia said: “We started by giving a presentation for our own class and when we got a good response, we continued with other classes.”

On one occasion, they heard that girls "ask" to be harassed or exposed with the way they dress. Rita and Malia strongly oppose this argument, and after a discussion, the idea was born.

“That was when we came up with ‘Not asking for it’ and that we would tape these words on shirts, as a kind of protest.” Malia continued.

Sexism is a part of everyday life

Rita and Malia explain that girls and women experience sexism every day, both at school and in the rest of society, but that it is sometimes unconscious.

“You hear things from other students. Often they do not notice themselves when they say something sexist. They only repeat things that others have said. The best thing you can do then is to speak up and tell them that what they said is actually sexist.” Rita said.

Positive reactions from both students and teachers

Several teachers have said that it is easier for them to talk about sexism in the classroom after Rita and Malia's initiative. The principal of the school has also helped to print stickers with the message on them, which are used by both students and teachers.

Mala said “In our class, I have noticed that people who might previously say sexist things catch themselves and stop, or tell others if they hear them say something sexist.”

Rita added: “It is easier to say no when you know what is wrong.”

The initiative has also received media attention. Including in Aftonbladet, where Rita and Malia have been interviewed.

Hope the movement continues

At the end of the school year, Rita and Malia will leave Internationella Engelska Skolan to move on to upper secondary school with the hope that they have inspired others.

Rita said: “There is a great deal of interest among teachers. The principal has also been positive. This is an issue that not only needs to be addressed among young people but also in the rest of society. So hopefully the message will be spread further.”