Social Media and Women’s Rights

Laura Clevenger, Staff Writer

“Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.” When Hillary Rodham Clinton proclaimed these words at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995 this was a radical idea. Women’s rights were seen as separate from foreign policy—a private issue far from the global society and the advancement of democracy. While the United States and other countries across the globe have made huge advancements in the participation of women in politics, disparities continue in the form of unequal pay, human trafficking, and abuse.

The peaceful battles for women’s rights continue, but how these battles take shape is changing. Advocates for women’s rights are harnessing the power of social media to enact change, spread movements, and ask for help. Here are a few recent examples from the past year:

  1. Women in India are on strike against rape culture right now. They spread the idea through Facebook and Twitter.
  2. A Reddit post saved a woman from a physically and mentally abusive relationship.
  3. Senator Wendy Davis utilized her Twitter account to bring the Texas abortion legislation to national attention. As a result, the hashtag #standwithwendy went viral.
  4. Kim Lee, an American woman married and living in China, used a Chinese social media site similar to Twitter to post photos and an account of her experience of domestic violence. A Beijing court then issued her divorce on the grounds of abuse and a three-month protection period from her husband, a first for the nation’s capital.

Social media has provided a new platform for leadership in the women’s right movement. The possibilities for advancement are endless and the opportunities are at the tips of fingers at a keyboard. As social media evolves, it will be crucial to watch how advocates harness the power of the internet to better the lives of women around the world.

Laura is a senior at NYU Steinhardt studying Public Health and minoring in Public Policy and Management. Contact her at: lec346@nyu.edu

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