(Photo: Reuters/ Samrang Pring)
Never in history has the world's social ills and the campaigns against them been more exposed than now, thanks to the use of social media and celebrity and corporate endorsements, says the founder of International Women's Day.
Today marks the 101st International Women's Day with thousands of events occurring worldwide that celebrate women's progress.
Glenda Stone, founder of the internationalwomensday.com website, said in a released statement, "Activity on International Women's Day has skyrocketed over the last five years. This is due to the rise of social media, celebrity involvement, and corporations taking on the day sponsoring and running big events."
Stone also noted that the International Women's Day Twitter community has around 10,000 followers and "is phenomenal for sharing videos, information and news as it happens." These online conversations and postings are helping to mobilize large scale rallies throughout the world.
"International Women's Day has become a powerful day for women activists banding together to have their voice heard. The day is used to fundraise, launch research findings, announce special initiatives and even promote companies and products," she said.
Toni Birdsong, a communications strategist and co-author of @stickyJesus: how to live out your faith online, told The Christian Post that social media helps women increase their digital footprint and gives them more of a platform to speak about global issues affecting them.
"When you think about the 2008 Obama campaign and how an unknown politician rose to capture the most powerful office on the planet via a grassroots social network effort, it's clear that women can use their collective power to affect change for women's issues globally. We've just to get on the same page and see this social era for what it truly is – the moment we've been waiting for as women," she told CP.
From a Christian point of view, Birdsong said that social media also gives women "an unprecedented platform to share their faith and be connectors to the eternal. Social media is a mission field especially tailored for women. Studies consistently show that women 35-55 are the top users of social networks, which reflects their fluency and ease interacting with others."
And it's not just adults and influential women using social media either, many young girls are catching on and raising awareness. GirlUp, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, which addresses the needs of adolescent girls in developing countries has also embraced the power of social media.
Andrea Austin, spokesperson for GirlUp, told CP today that they have a number of social media initiatives happening today, from Twitter chats to blogging meant to "push the conversation online." They are also asking girls to tell them about women who inspire them, and think about the importance of women role models in their lives.
Austin told CP that online initiatives help young girls understand and see the plight of girls in other countries. She said a group of GirlUp members recently chatted with girls in Uganda and were able to see the similarities and differences of their lives in each country.
Lydia Frempong, of Butterfly PR – the Official PR Partner of internationalwomensday.com website – believes that social media is a powerful form of communication that both developed and developing countries can access.
She told CP via email that "women can become involved in the campaign to raise awareness for equality for all women. They will be able to read new stories from across the world, watch video footage, view images and feel connected to our historical day. Social media used in a positive way can be empowering and engaging."
International Women's Day saw its first event run in 1911, and today continues to provide a powerful opportunity to unite, network and mobilize worldwide for meaningful change. It provides an opportunity to make a stand against inequality, discrimination and marginalization of women.