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Women’s rights, protecting the environment, or fighting hate speech: Women worldwide are politically active online. They face online and offline abuse.
Four women, four continents, countless causes: The activists have one thing in common: They are using online tools to lead a new wave of feminist and pro-democracy protests online. The digital sphere is a space for women a space to speak up and be heard.
Rosebell Kagumire from Uganda runs the website "AfricanFeminism.com", which gives a voice to women across the African continent. To her, social media and the internet are tools for sharing her vision of a better world and for connecting with like-minded women.
Using catchy hashtags in one way to raise awareness for campaigns. In Latin America, #NiUnaMenos – not even one less – became the slogan for the fight against femicides. Iranian activist Masih Alinejad, who lives in exile, created the hashtag #Whitewednesdays: As a sign of protest against compulsory veiling laws, women post photos and videos of themselves without a veil or wearing white on Wednesdays.
With #ActOnLakeChad, Nigerian climate activist Adenike Oladosu calls for determination and real action to stop climate change. These are just three examples of women around the world using digital tools and platforms to raise their voice and connect with other activists.
But not all their online followers are fans. The young Argentinian politician Ofelia Fernández is often targeted with emails and messages on social media containing death threats, rape threats or hateful abuse. And for fear of abduction by the Iranian regime, activist Masih Alinejad needs to have personal security with her at all times – even in the US.
Being a woman, being active online and speaking out – that's often all it takes for activist women to be bombarded with online abuse, threats, or sexual harassment. Gender plays an important role in who is targeted by abuse: In a study in the US from 2021, 33% of women under 35 years said they had sexually harassed online before. For men in the same age group, it was just 11%.
The four women in this series won't stop speaking out and protesting, even if it has often pushed them to their personal limit.
Despite all difficulties: Social media is connecting women around the world so they can support one another in the push for change.