Social Media and the 16 Days of Action against Gender-Based Violence

For the 16 Days of Action against Gender-Based Violence (November 25-December 10), Interval House is featuring the amazing work being done by other violence against women agencies in the GTA. This is the third blog in our 16 Days Series.

Social media’s prowess lies in its ability to bring groups together and to spread the word quickly. With the swipe of a finger or click of a mouse, news and ideas are broadcast, shared, retweeted, and liked. During this year’s 16 Days of Action against Gender-Based Violence, we’ve seen a number of agencies working to end violence against women use social media to spread the word about ending gender-based violence.

Locally, Toronto’s Assaulted Women’s Helpline (AWHL) knows how vital social media is for raising awareness about supports available to survivors of abuse and violence. Over the past two weeks, the 24/7 hotline ramped up their Twitter and Facebook pages, empowering women every day to break the silence and speak out against violence.

At the national level, YWCA Canada also launched a 16 Days social media campaign, calling on Canadians to tag depictions of violence against women with the hashtag #notokay. The organization is also encouraging concerned members of the community to share their concern with friends and area MPs, speaking back against video games, television shows, and musical acts that feature violent attacks against women in their videos.

Internationally, the United Nations is using a different method for their campaign, encouraging local action for a greater global impact. Their Orange Your Neighbourhood campaign (#orangeurhood) made a colourful impact on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram on November 25th. In the time since, photos of everything from an orange-lit Empire State Building to celebrities wearing handmade orange bracelets in support of the 16 Days have popped up on Instagram newsfeeds. Why orange? The UN has designated the bright shade to signify an equally bright future without violence.

The idea behind these campaigns? Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube – all of these can be used for more than selfies and tutorials. The power of social mobilization is strong and together, through sharing, double clicking, and retweeting, one seemingly small photo, comment, or idea can make an impact, increase awareness, and one day help end violence against women.