Since we started studying the many examples of social movements started on social media in the middle east/north Africa, I was disappointed again and again at how the movements turned out. Maybe I expected too much from these campaigns, but because even though they all achieved success at the time, they did not make lasting impacts on the society. However, the women’s rights movement, especially with Harassmap (Egypt) and HarassTracker (Lebanon), seems to have made a big difference for women in MENA. From the video with Abir Ghatta and the readings, it is clear that they are working. She said that these movements are really bringing harassment out of the private sector and turning it into a public discussion. This is extremely important because the goal of any movement is to raise awareness so people would face the problem and address it.
Across the readings, the two research papers described online movements in the Arab world really well by pointing out how they worked and did not work. Most of them started out on Facebook, and a common success is gaining popular and even global attention about the issue at hand, then using this awareness to turn online voices into physical protests. Facebook/online movements also worked horizontally, which made them more accessible thus creating a sense of community. Some limitations, as previously discussed, is lack of stamina and leadership – a lot of these movements do not last very long, making its success hard to preserve.
What HarassMap has achieved here is impressive, because it is definitely a very important issue, since women have been marginalised for way too long. We still have a long way to go with the women’s rights movement, everywhere, but their success is imperative. From the research on women’s movements in Arab world, it seems that people want to help with the cause but everyone needs to understand that: religion (Islam) is not responsible for women’s condition, it is to blame on old cultural practices and beliefs.
happy international women’s day