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Female Empowerment Campaigns: The Hashtags and The Impacts

(Source: https://www.worldpulse.com/en/community/users/umaiyal/posts/34690)  

 

#LikeAGirl

#BanBossy

#GirlsCan

#MeToo

Regardless of what gender you identify with, I know that you recognize at least one, if not all, of these hashtags. Regardless of whether or not you think that any of these campaigns were effective, you know they had an effect on the people around you. And regardless of whether or not you were involved in any of these movements, you know why they came to be, what conditions forced them into existence. There are many more campaigns like these that have both preceded and succeeded the ones mentioned here, and they have all contributed to furthering empowerment causes for women.

Despite this progressive aim, none of them seem to have had too much of a long-term effect. The hashtag pervades social media sites for a while, highlights the important cause, but then disappears into the folds of social media history. Why is that?

(Source: https://www.slideshare.net/CharlotteWhiteley/always-like-a-girl)

 

Granted that a lot of these hashtags were part of advertising campaigns of various international companies, but I’d like to believe that the aim of starting them was the social progress of women. For example, #LikeAGirl was an evocative movement by Always, shedding light on how children, in their growing years, become naturally accustomed to thinking about girls as the weaker sex because of the words we use and the emphasis we place on a man’s strength and a woman’s inability. It was a beautiful message that was presented in a simple and straightforward manner (you can view the video here). It gained a lot of traction when first released in 2014 but has since faded away, resurfacing only when people list down empowerment movements (kind of like what I’m doing right now). Most of the other such trends appear to follow this same course.    

 

#MeToo, however, is turning out to be an exception to this trend. Since its first viral use (after creator Tarana Burke’s story) by actor Alyssa Milano in October of last year, #MeToo has had an unfalteringly upward-moving curve in terms of popularity and has become one of the most successful campaigns of its time.

Freshman Rosheen Dhar believes that it has been a helpful campaign in championing the cause of women because ‘...it led to a lot of powerful people being exposed, which is important. Authority and power should be questioned.’ Since its initiation into social media, the hashtag has gained heavy traction on all platforms and became a portal for women (and men) to share their stories of sexual harassment while knowing that this time, they would be heard. Sahil Bagwe, from the Undergraduate Batch of 2020 says ‘The number of people coming out and sharing their stories was really shocking; it’s especially hard-hitting when a person you meet every day open up to you about this. I think this is what made this movement more effective than its predecessors.’

(Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/12/metoo-march-hollywood-sexu…)

 

Despite its popularity, it’s hard to fully establish whether #MeToo is really making the big difference that it set out to make. More importantly, will it be able to reach its full potential in the limited time it has left before it recedes back into the shadows like the other empowerment campaigns?

‘Maybe people aren’t ready to have an open dialogue about it, or maybe public-memory is just short-lived. The effect can be prolonged by creating dialogue in physical spaces rather than social media,’ says Sahil.

‘A part of the issue here,’ according to Rosheen, ‘is that there is only so much the public can do. More active responses from the governments can help prolong the impacts of such campaigns.’

While there has been some stirring within the government and other influential authorities as evidenced by the proposition of the Me Too Congress Bill in the United States, there remains a worldwide void of proper legislative (and civil) protection of sexual harassment victims.

On a more hopeful note, the #MeToo campaign has resulted in the creation of the #TimeIsUp movement, which is an organization created to provide subsidized legal support for victims of sexual harassment, assault, or abuse within the workspace. 

The establishment of an organization like this, and the massive support that it has garnered from celebrities and the public alike is a sign that even campaigns that started out with the basic purpose of gauging the magnitude of an issue can result in active engagement and fruitful actions by affected individuals who have decided that they will no longer stay quiet.

Looking into the future it is difficult to predict how long the #MeToo effect will last, or what is going to come after it; however, each and every campaign symbolizes a struggle and a desire for a better society for women. As long as that target is clear, there is no such thing as too many movements, right?

 

Edited by Priyanka Shankar

Images curated by Aqsa Pervez and Prakriti Sharma

Freshman @ Ashoka University, India. A determined writer and a passionate dancer.
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