Nowadays, activism comes less in the form of bra-burning protests (although those can still be effective), and more in the form of social media outcry. These five Twitter hashtags promote the advancement of women socially, economically, and politically and do a solid job taking the temperature of women (and men) at this moment in time. Whether or not you believe hashtag activism can be an effective tool to implement change, it gives the public a platform to have their say from the comfort of their laptops and mobile devices.
1. #YesAllWomen This hashtag exploded on Twitter and other social media sites following Elliot Rodger’s Isla Vista killing spree on May 23, 2014. Rodger had uploaded a video to YouTube just before expressing his desire to punish women for rejecting him as well as a manifesto in which he expressed deeply misogynistic opinions (among other hateful things). #YesAllWomen was a response to his screed, encouraging women to share their stories of sexism and violence, hoping to raise awareness about the challenges and dangers that women still encounter today. Of course, the hashtag did not go uncriticized.
2. #ChangeTheRatio Founded by Rachel Sklar, changetheration is a movement that seeks to increase the number of women in leadership positions in tech and new media fields. Women currently hold 4.8 percent of the Fortune 500 CEO positions. Google recently revealed that only 30 percent of its workforce is female, Facebook 31 percent, and Yahoo! 37 percent. And Yahoo!, who is helmed by a woman, revealed a further breakdown, noting that 15 percent of its tech workforce and 23 percent of its leadership was female.
3. #BringBackOurGirls When the terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped 200 Nigerian school girls on April 14, the world erupted in anger. And from that rage was born #BringBackOurGirls, a viral campaign aimed at pressuring Nigerian (and world) leaders into trying to recover these poor girls. Even Michelle Obama participated in the campaign.
4. #GirlRising This hashtag was born from a documentary and organization of the same name. The film follows nine girls from around world who face enormous challenges, social and cultural obstacles in trying to get their education. The hashtag seeks to continue the conversation about the importance of education and its power to effect change.
5. #womenshould Ever Google something, only to stop halfway through and read the autofill and think, “people actually search for that?” Exposing the sexist ideas conveyed in these Google searches, the UN created the #womenshould campaign, promoted through a series of ads and conversations on social media via the #womenshould.