Social change through social media has been existing for a long time now. For some, social media is the primary source to ‘catch up’ with the news. Here’s Ishita Shelat, a social media strategist sharing what made social media game changer for women in 2017.

If we look back at 2017, social media has been a real gamechanger for women. Be it knowledge about their rights, building their businesses, or even taking action toward a just cause, social media is empowering women to take the next step.

Women’s Rights and Activism

On January 21st, 2017, what began as a small Facebook event, ‘Women’s March on Washington’, led to a global march for women’s rights in form of the Women’s March. The event was streamed live on Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter and the estimated worldwide reach was about 5 million. The event was created by Teresa Shook from Hawaii and was different from regular posts / events playing the blame-game. It created action, it gave millions of people a cause to support and get up and take action. While keyboard wars are common, this event saw many marchers joining in and standing up for women’s rights. Besides going viral on social media, the march created impact and gave millions of people a chance to share their stories with the hashtag- #WHYIMARCH. From one social media post to reaching many millions, that’s how powerful communication on social media can be.

Social Media Game Changer for Women in 2017

If we take the example of the #MeToo campaign, how many of us knew that it was started by Tarana Burke in 2006? You might’ve seen it gain popularity on your feeds in 2017 after actress Alyssa Milano used this hashtag in a response to misconduct and accusations against Harvey Weinstein. Alyssa encouraged women to tweet their personal experiences using the hashtag to demonstrated how deep rooted this issue is. Since then, it has been used millions of times and still is. The #MeToo campaign took hashtag activism one step further. Even men who faced abuse tweeted with the hashtag and many responded in solidarity.

#AskedForIt is another social media only campaign begun by Aakanksha Bhattacharyya to shift the blame from victims to perpetrators. Several bloggers and influencers took to social media to voice how the perpetrators, well, asked for it. A post by Sakshi Pradhan mentions why one should report perpetrators and not feel shamed for it.

#IWillGoOut in response to the Bengaluru Mass Molestation case, #LahuKaLagaan in response to the tax on sanitary napkins, #WomenBoycottTwitter in response to the lack of anti-harassment policy on the platform, and #AintNoCinderella in response to the infamous case of stalking and harassment of a Chandigarh based DJ were used in 2017 to take action. Read more about them here.

Social media has helped many micro-entrepreneurs come to the fore and make money from their social media accounts – Social Media Game Changer

Women and Micro-entrepreneurship

Social media has helped many micro-entrepreneurs come to the fore and make money from their social media accounts. Many women either take to blogging or selling their products on social media, and 2017 has seen a rise in brands paying influential women to run their campaigns. This has helped many women showcase their talent or do what they love best and earn a suitable amount in exchange. She The People’s Digital Women Awards 2017 is an effort to recognise such individuals and organisations.

Female comedians have also come to the fore using social media, TLC’s Queens of Comedy – India’s first comedy challenge for women was started on Youtube. Here’s a quick look at the pilot of this show started to break stereotypes and beat prejudice.

Body and Self-Image

Women’s body and self-image issues have taken a huge overturn. Several women have spoken out against body-shaming and many artists are taking to social media for self-expression.

Take, for example, artist Lyla Freechild. She is an advocate of how one’s body belongs to oneself and how one chooses to express should be of no concern to the others. She creates jewellery pieces with the Jaipur Blue Pottery technique which have artwork symbolising the female body.

She has also done an installation made solely of menstrual cups to create a larger-than-life menstrual cup at Prayag. She aims for women to switch to a more sustainable menstrual hygiene option using her art.

While I am speaking about just one artist, whom I happen to know personally, 2017 has seen a rise, with many artists taking to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to express a positive self and body image with their art and making us love our bodies more.

Tell us in the comments below why you think social media was a game changer for women in 2017.

Ishita Shelat runs a social media agency called Fatsmeagol 

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