In recent years, social media has been used to raise the voices of people and groups who aren’t usually heard. Online platforms have been used for activism and raising awareness on important issues, like climate change. When it comes to women, their relationship with social media is complicated. However, we must recognize social media’s potential in advocating for women. There are at least 4 social media campaigns that have recently succeeded in helping to empower women.
Me Too Movement
In 2017, the hashtag #MeToo spread like wildfire on social media after influential men in Hollywood were exposed for committing sexual crimes. Over time, the hashtag became a movement that empowered women to speak up and share their experiences. It even began a global conversation around women’s rights and safety at work. Four years later, we can measure the real-life impact of the movement that started on social media as a trend. For example, female representation in the film industry has increased, helping to address the gender inequalities that lead to abuse.
Instagram vs Reality
The trend “Instagram vs Reality” started around 2018, when women would share side-by-side photos of themselves on Instagram for comparison. The first photo would be staged and edited to hide flaws, the second photo would be more natural and relaxed. While these posts could try to be funny, they also promoted body-positivity on social media.
Black and White Challenge
The “black and white challenge” of 2020 began in Turkey to raise awareness on cases of femicide (the killing of women and girls based on their gender). Women would post black and white photos of themselves on Instagram and nominate other women to do the same. The challenge soon started circulating among female celebrities, helping to reach a larger audience. Not only did the challenge highlight a local issue affecting women that would have otherwise gone unnoticed, but it united women around the world in support for one another.
In September 2021, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, undoing years of progress on gender issues. Afghan women abroad went on social media to protest the Taliban’s oppression of women back home. Using the hashtag #DoNotTouchMyClothes, women shared pictures of themselves in colorful traditional dress to protest against women being forced to wear black burqas.