Maria, Maria

Strategic design

Engaging women to report sexual harassment in public transport in Brazil.


The fear of assault and violence walk together with the majority of the Brazilian women, influencing on the many ways they experience the city. Because of the male-oriented culture, in the past, women believed that catcalling and sexual harassment was acceptable and considered a "normal" behavior, even when they felt embarrassed and afraid. Nowadays, with the spread of information about women's rights and feminism, a new mindset has changed this attitude, providing consciousness to these women. However, the numbers of report of harassment in the public transport are not increasing significantly.


With the improvement of communication and education coming from feminists collectives and NGOs, women can support and encourage themselves to go againt the rape culture existed in Brazil, going for a new culture of reaction. However, unfortunately, this precious information goes just for a niche of people.

By encouraging women to define themselves as self-expressive individuals gives the possibility of changing the male chauvinist culture and empowering them to stand for not being treated as an object is a change for them to be who they are.


Nowadays, information and open conversations about women's rights are spreading all over the Internet and because of that, women are standing for their rights. So, I started wondering that a reaction culture could be created in order to be against the rape culture existing in Brazil, so women could feel empowered because of the information. But, then, this culture would be not just made by women, but also by men.

Creating a new behavior and attitude is the beginning of a new culture and education. For example, if one woman starts to respond to men when they harass her, and tell others, maybe other women can have the same attitude and make more men uncomfortable of doing this.

There are many services in Brazil related to reporting. However, these services don't increase the number of complaints, but campaigns and educational information. And it goes in a vicious circle, where the number of complaints are not enough, either the Police data related to that, so if they don't have a high number, it's like the problem doesn't exist. And if the number of complaint is low, new laws are not created to protect these women and their safety is not improved, and, then, people are not aware about this issue.

So, how might we make women report the harassment in the public transport?

And how might we make the valuable educational information go for everyone and not just for a niche (feminists)?

Sharing stories and giving the opportunity for women to feel more empowered and embraced, a space for them to share thoughts and feelings, and maybe making men to be part of that too, to understand and to have more empathy.


Maria, Maria is a tool of empowerment and engagement for women to report sexual harassment in public transport in Brazil, focusing on changing the behavior of accepting sexual harassment as a "normal" attitude present from the rape culture, and creating a reaction culture instead, providing them: awareness, information, a support community and a space for sharing stories.

It uses as strategy with three phases of implementation which are marketing for public awareness, an online collaborative support community, to embrace and connect women to react against the harassment and rape culture and education.

This project was part of my master's thesis in Product Service System Design at Politecnico di Milano
April, 2017
Milan, Italy
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