The Ottawa-based organization, which provides grants to women’s rights organizations in the developing world, is hosting mobile activations in Toronto on March 5. Street teams dressed as officers will ‘ticket’ people doing things that would be considered crimes in other parts of the world, such as showing public displays of affection or wearing a skirt or makeup.
In addition, a bus with a glass exterior will serve as a mobile live billboard, featuring handcuffed women captioned with criminal actions like “I had sex,” “I married outside of my religion” and “I reported being raped.”
“We’re trying to provoke Canadians into having a conversation about women’s rights around the world,” said Jessica Tomlin, CEO of The Match International Women’s Fund. “There has been a bit of apathy growing in this country and we want Canadians to start to take notice of the growing inequity that exists for women in specific parts of the world.”
The campaign, which launches just ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, also includes an Indiegogo campaign for “Sarah,” a 12-year-old girl who is crowdsourcing for her divorce.
“Sarah is not real but every year there are 15 million girls who are married as child brides, so this is a real consciousness-raising piece,” said Tomlin. “[The aim] is to draw people in, shock them into being motivated to get behind these issues and also educate people.”
Any money raised on Indiegogo will go toward a grant for a grassroots women’s rights organization.
The campaign was developed pro bono by Toronto PR firm Citizen Relations. It follows the launch of an advertising campaign, which includes a PSA , radio and out-of-home, all with donated media space.
The ads were developed by Fish Out of Water Design, which also worked pro bono on a rebrand for The Match International Women’s Fund. The graphic design firm developed the women in handcuffs creative, an idea that was carried over to the street activations.
“The campaign has been running for about five weeks and now we’re at the point where we’re trying to execute on the ground and do some of these guerilla marketing tactics,” said Tomlin.
She’s hopeful the bold tactics will get people talking. “The charitable sector has for a long time spoken to the choir and I think provocation is a really great tool to get outside the choir,” she said. “We’re not going to bring about real change in this country and elsewhere if we just talk to ourselves all the time.”