"We don't have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how
well we do it"- Erik Qualman
Women's leadership in social networks can tear down old stereotypes and
demographic categories, generating a real impact on media, advertisement and
entertainment. Since the 1990s, India has had fast expansion in the ICT sector,
which has expanded since 2000. According to a Google research released in June
2013, more than 60 million women in India use the Internet to manage their daily
lives, out of a total of 150 million Internet users.
The development of social
media technologies created various opportunities for the civic population to
plead their opinions for the movements which needed much response that couldn't
be bought out by the mainstream media. It serves a platform to share, raise the
voice of women when their voices are restricted. Thousands of men have joined
cyber-hands to help women, share their voices in each and every protest.
subject for empowering women has to be put on light. Empowerment is necessary to
make a bright future of the family, society and country, to make their own
decisions for their personal dependent. This paper tends to draw out how social
media can effectively broaden the scope for action on women's rights and gender
equality. The sub-theme of this compilation is Social media and women
Aims And Objectives Of Research:
A social network is a social structure that maps out the relationships between
- To understand how social media can be used wisely to empower women in a
conservative cultured society like India.
- To enquire the pros and cons on women- social media participation.
- Review successful social media initiatives, analyse existing hurdles,
and make ideas on how to use social media to successfully widen the scope of
action on women's rights and gender equality.
These days, the world has become a global village, and social networking sites
are bringing people closer together and helping them to interact and share their
thoughts within the group, no matter where in the world they are," -
N.S.Muthukumaran, Director. Alternative media is becoming a platform for the
empowerment of the society on a whole. Women have got in this way a new space to
share their views. This virtual space is giving her power by segregating from
the real space; where she has to face the real challenges in the form of
eve-teasing, stalking, harassment etc.
Social Media Activism
The development of social media technologies created various opportunities for
the civic population to plead their opinions. It also gave a big line of attack
for the movements which needed much response that couldn't be bought out by the
mainstream media. Cyber-activism is a growing field of scholarly research
Langman argued that the people those who have acquaint computer
knowledge use internet and initiate various activities like demonstrations,
public protests etc. Social media technologies have been widely used to spread
information in a short time. People indulge in social media to form a network in
order to socialize themselves and stay connected with other people. The message
once passed or posted (well in SNS language) reaches many.
Social Media In Empowering Women
Social media acts as an alternative media, a platform to share,
raise the voice of women when their voice is restricted. Thousands of men joined
Cyber-hands to help women, share their voices in each and every protest. The
subject of empowering women has to be put on light. Empowerment is necessary to
make a bright future of the family, society and country, to make their own
decisions for their personal dependent. When a person's voice is silenced, it
can be amplified in any other way conceivable thanks to social media.
Impact Of Social Media On Indian Women
India has a population of 1.2 billion people, with women accounting for roughly
half of the population. Thanks to the efforts of various reformers over the
century, the status of women in our country has improved in terms of equal
rights. Women have occupied important positions in India in the modern era,
including President, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, top management
roles, entrepreneurship, and so on. India, as a country, is making significant
strides and cannot afford to overlook women's empowerment.
Today, technology directly impacts women's development and has enabled their
voice to reach out and be viewed globally. According to a recent Goggle report,
the Internet is empowering Indian women by providing them with easy access to
information and allowing them to make more educated decisions in their daily
lives. According to a survey named "Women and Web Study" published in June
2013, out of India's 150 million Internet users, more than 60 million women
utilise the Internet to manage their daily lives.
Success Of Social Media Protests
Traditional mass media use social media to get up-to-date
information on protests, which they then transmit to a large audience through
their own channels.Various researchers have different opinion regarding the role
of social media in civic participation and social activism.
Cyber-activism movements started in mid 2000's, while social
networking sites were getting popular among the Techno-savvies. Those movements
include antiwar, anti-globalization, awareness movements etc. Internet also
enabled various democratic groups and movements which included activists more
than 1,00,000 in Brazil in 2003 and in Mumbai in 2004.
Benefits Of Social Media Activism
Traditional methods of training, recruitment, and organisation are
more expensive than using social media. People who are active online are more
likely to participate in group activities such as starting an online group for a
cause or sharing their voices, according to several research. It allows people
to share them with their friends, learn how many others share their viewpoint,
and coordinate activities and spread the news about protests and social issues.
For example, the 'Jaipur Rugs Foundation' promotes equality, justice, and peace
by providing social-economic development opportunities for all women, empowering
them to earn and raise their families. They offer a programme that assists women
in areas like as entrepreneurship and skill development; the goal is to help
women get educated and study beyond it so that they can compete with males.
Internet allows such foundations to reach out to people all around the world.
Previously, such foundations were common, but the general public had little
understanding of them. People from all around the world, both in monetary and
non-monetary forms, are now supporting these causes.
The Social Media Revolution And Women's Empowerment
Activists all over the world have used platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and
Twitter to broadcast live events to a large online audience. Women's rights
organisations have also jumped on board to take use of social media's unmatched
political and awareness-raising potential. The rise of female bloggers has
helped to attract a younger generation of activists, who are a major target
audience for breaking down preconceptions and advancing gender equality.
The Wikigender online conversation and study identified three areas where social
media has aided women's political activism:
- Hashtag activism facilitating women's issues to the forefront of
Hashtag activism has helped to mobilize public attention on
women's rights, increasing the visibility of issues that are under-reported in
mainstream media. Example : The success of UN Women's high-profile #HeForShe
campaign demonstrates the power of social media to reach new and wider
audiences: the campaign reached over 1.2 billion people worldwide, highlighting
the necessity to involve men and boys to attain gender equality.
- Tackling violence against women through social media tools:
Women's rights, legal processes, and welfare services have all benefited
from the use of social media platforms, which have enabled them to share
their stories of violence with other women. HarassMap, an online mapping service that allows
victims to anonymously record incidences of sexual harassment directly from
their mobile phone, was launched in Egypt in 2010. This crowdsourcing initiative
organises all of the reports and is accompanied by initiatives to raise
awareness about the scope of the problem in Egypt.
- Public accountability towards gender equality:
Women's grassroots organisations are increasingly using social media to demand for greater public
responsibility in the area of gender equality. Following the gang rape of a
young woman in Delhi in 2012, the #DelhiGangRape hashtag campaign raised
attention to the extent of gender-based violence in India. The hashtag campaign
aided public street mobilisation, which resulted in the Criminal Code being
amended to include specific anti-rape measures (Sharma, 2014). Similarly, the
rape and death of a young woman in Turkey sparked a worldwide outcry on Twitter
with the hashtags #sendeanlat (speak your storey) and #ozceganaslan. Large-scale
street protests sparked a debate among political and civil society leaders about
the country's violence against women.
Women Protests Via Social Media
Women To Drive
On May 2011 Manal al-sharif posted an video on online showing
herself driving. This could sound very normal thing for any other women in the
western or in eastern countries. But, Manal was imprisoned as women of Iran are
totally restricted from driving. A hashtag #Women2Drive Campaign in Facebook,
Twitter and Youtube got viral which influenced Manal to video herself driving.
That video was viewed more than 700,000 times before it was removed from
My Stealthy Freedom
In 2014 an Iranian Journalist Masih Alinejad posted a picture in
online which showed her in free hair, breeze ruffling her hair gently. The photo
became viral in social media. It provoked an instant reaction among the women in
her country. The reason was she was not wearing a hijab, a headscarf to cover
the entire head and hair. She named the picture as My Stealthy Freedom, which
turned out to be a Facebook page receiving 770,000 likes and majority of the
likes were from Iran internet users. Somehow later Iran women started to upload
their pictures in this page without wearing a hijab. Alinejad received a human
rights award at the Geneva Summit. She commented on her action as It's not
about a headscarf, Its' about human dignity.
Gang rape of a Delhi based Physiotherapy student in a private bus
had gained a national and international condemn. There were lot of Public
protest against the state and the central government who failed to provide
adequate security for women. Just like any other rape case this would have been
disappeared among the TRP importance of the media, but I wouldn't because of
some serious, sensible Tweets and Facebook posts which constantly questioned the
government. Protests happened both offline and online. Thousands of Facebook
profile picture has been changed to a picture of Black dot. Ten thousand
signed an online petition protesting the rape incident. Despite the death of the
victim, there had been lots of changes in the state and Central regarding the
protection of Women. Helpline for women protection, changes in law dealing
sexual assault cases become the victory of the protests.
For its speed of distribution and reach, social media has become a powerful
weapon for women's empowerment. It's also made it easier for women to encourage
one another, which is the ideal #SheForShe motivator. Women may relate with
people who share their personal experiences online by using the like button,
which has served as a virtual embrace to each other.
Women's limited access to new technologies: Fully taking advantage of social
media for political advocacy is restricted for many women by illiteracy,
language barriers and the digital divide in infrastructure between rural and
urban areas. These factors affect in particular rural and indigenous women's
online advocacy and opportunities to connect with other activists.
- Limited networking with institutional actors:
Women's online activism
can be hampered by a lack of cross-institutional networking opportunities, such
as with decision makers and public figures, as well as a dissociation from local
- Information overload and scaling up:
A slew of modest internet
campaigns focused on specific topics can easily become overwhelming, leading to
activism weariness. This has an impact on a campaign's capacity to scale
globally and attract new audiences.
- Censorship and harassment:
Governments have also been known to ban
female-authored blogs and webpages. Female activists have been sexually harassed
in online discussions, and websites that provide information on sexual health
and reproductive rights have been pulled offline. Women's online voices are
further silenced by negative gender stereotypes and lower representation of
women in both traditional and new media organisations.
However, as we all know, women's voices have been silenced on social media as a
result of online abuse. Women in positions of power and female journalists are
particularly vulnerable to these attacks. Studies have consistently revealed
that the danger and attacks directed against women online differ significantly
from those directed at men.
While both men and women face physical threats,
those directed against women are sexual in nature and intended to exert
dominance, silence, and intimidation. When they realise that abusive remarks
acquire a lot of likes, social media has been used to disseminate misogyny and
has inspired some sexists to come out of the woodwork.
Furthermore, the word slacktivism
has been applied to digital activism because
like and sharing online makes individuals feel good, even if the online campaign
has no real political or social impact. We must exercise caution in order to
avoid slipping into this trap. As encouraging as this sounds, social media and
online activism may also trap women in a realm of social media where awareness
campaigns begin and end.
Furthermore, without integrating women and young girls in leadership positions
through policy-changing training or learning how to actively influence
decision-making mechanisms, the difficulties associated with women empowerment
� Another point to consider is the divide that Social Media creates
between rural and urban women. Since illiteracy, language barriers, and the
digital divide in infrastructure between rural and urban areas prevent many
women from taking advantage of Social Media, its tools, and political advocacy
online, many women are restricted from using Social Media, its tools, and
political advocacy online.
Their struggle is therefore many times invisible, and
empowerment campaigns favours those of high-end reaching large audiences.
The reality that women in rural areas have limited access to new technologies,
language barriers and lack of education are huge problems in itself and poses
challenges for furthering women empowerment and the move towards gender
A focus on following areas can enhance for betterment of women:
- Enhance women to use information technology for communication and the
media more effectively: Equal access to and use of new technologies is
crucial for maximising the advocacy role of social media. Women's social media use could
be improved by training gender advocates on strategic means of organising an
online campaign (e.g., hashtag use, measuring impact, identifying target
audiences, and generating compelling messaging).
- Improve women's capacity to participate in decision-making and
leadership: Increasing female leadership in media organisations and
decision-making processes can help internet advocacy efforts focused on women's
rights succeed. Strategic partners can help close the policy loop and influence
decision-making and public awareness on major women's rights problems.
- Incorporate a diverse group of people, including grassroots women's organisations, traditional media, and men: To strengthen advocacy efforts,
social media campaigns must build on and collaborate with local women's groups.
Campaigns can be scaled up by combining social media and traditional media.
Furthermore, including males and other non-traditional partners can help
campaigns gain traction both locally and worldwide by reinforcing messaging and
attracting more attention.
'If there is one single woman suffering abuse you have to be their voice'
Human right is not thinking about the majority. Each and every issues took place
for a long time while it needed some strong minds to make them successful. There
are plenty of women out here with ailment from family, society fighting for
life, rights and living. Each and every women doesn't always get solutions
easily. At least social media could put some light on their problems which can
lead to the solutions.
The combination of the internet and social media has spawned a new type of media
in India, which has grown substantially over the last decade. There are
currently websites dedicated to women's empowerment, with topics ranging from
health to knowledge to lifestyle to education. With the power of social media,
finding information about women's empowerment has never been easier. When an
incident occurs, social media becomes a more rapid medium that allows people
from all over the world to join and express their concern and sorrow.
Governments all across the world were forced to respond in response to similar
occurrences, which were universally denounced.
Only the emergence of the
Internet and Social Media allowed for such awareness and outpouring. Women are
learning more about their rights and powers, which every woman in a society has
on an equal footing with males in every way. All of these wonderful changes are
currently being triggered, and they will only accelerate with time, thanks to
the Internet and Social Media!
- Online Research, The Nielsen Company.
- In the year 2005
- Social networking sites
- Report by Google.
- Langman 2005.
- Papic & Noonan, 2011.
- Young, 2014
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Fathima Ibrahim
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