Taking back the streets from catcallers


“Hey sexy!” “Give me a smile!” Whistling follows the calls. Women jogging on sidewalks often face relentless harassment at every turn. “It’s really no secret that a woman is not safe alone in these streets,” Mira Leibowitz says. So this runner began a revolution that’s taking back the streets.

Drawing inspiration from Zonke and Zama Mthethwa, founders of a Johannesburg all-female running group called The Pack, Leibowitz decided to bring the idea to Cape Town. In expanding the club’s membership, Liebowitz ensures more women can exercise outside without being threatened. “There needs to be a space for women to feel safe and we provide that,” she says. Not having to worry about security allows runners to focus on building their fitness levels. “There’s power in numbers and that gives us strength,” Leibowitz says.

Members of The Pack have gone on to run the Comrades Marathon, proving the lengths they can go to when fear doesn’t hold them back. “We’ve really created a sisterhood among each other,” Leibowitz says. With every run, she hopes to encourage more people to join. The initiative sends a firm statement to men who harass women. “We want to remind people of South Africa that these streets belong to all of us,” Leibowitz says. She urges women to join forces and run like the roads are theirs. When people don’t have to look over their shoulder all the time, they have the freedom to move forward.