Women’s movements

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

One thought on “Women’s movements

  1. I like the clarity in which you describe movements as having a goal to “raise awareness so people would face the problem and address it.” The need to raise social consciousness is crucial to any movement and the ability to generate followers, members and activists to the plight is also crucial. Consistently, the text has pointed to the the inability for movements to maintain momentum. One way to consider the lack of longevity is to understand the social media itself as a platform. As a whole what may generate traffic today may slip away dismally within weeks or months. The ability to keep things fresh and new within the movement is crucial. The need for leadership and skills to enhance visual content are two possible solutions to the problem. As pointed out in class the visual image has much more allure and creates a greater impact on the longevity of the page online. Finally, I agree with you that the movement for women’s rights requires social change and has shaped our world in a patriarchal space for far to long. Media, advertising and business have perpetuated this problem and are resistant to change. They should be targets for change and require a one building block at a time approach. Calling out advertisers like Calvin Klein and the like for portraying women as objects for abuse in their ads must be part of the campaign. Klein was noted as having said I know the images are inappropriate, create controversy and are denigrating to women…but look at the sales. See the problem!


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