Outcomes 2018-12-03T13:28:21+02:00

What is feminism? 2018-11-25T20:20:54+02:00
#16Days16Ways 2017 Videos 2018-02-11T17:11:54+02:00

Though 16 Days of Activism has passed, the sentiment behind the campaign will always ring true. As activism should be year-round, WomensNet has put together a series of videos that will stay relevant until we as a society reach the goal of safety and freedom for all women and non-men.

You can also watch the videos here on our Facebook Page

Afri SIG 2017 – Useful Resources 2017-12-13T13:59:38+02:00
Did Facebook finally figure out that consent is more important than nipples? 2017-05-08T09:08:24+02:00
Author: Erika Smith in collaboration with Fungai Machirori
Source: Take Back the Tech

 

When you receive calls at all hours from women desperate to get intimate photos shared without consent taken offline, it’s a relief to hear about Facebook’s latest move to address the distribution of non-consensual intimate images. Finally! Technical solutions to social problems seldom make a good fit, even in a digitally layered world, so here is our take on some pluses and limitations of this move, as well as a lot of questions. Will this initiative that attempts to address harm be misused to kerb sexual expression, education, or pleasure?

The innovation

Earlier this month, Facebook announced a new tool that will prevent an intimate image posted without consent from being shared further on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. When an image gets reported by a user, it is then reviewed by Facebook’s community operations team. If it is found to be in violation of community standards, it will be removed, and the account that shared the image will likely be disabled. Facebook will then use its photo-matching technology to ensure that the picture is not posted elsewhere online in the participating platforms and that it cannot be posted again by other accounts. If a photo has been wrongly reported, there is a possibility of appeal.
This same technology, which cross-checks image hash values against a database of flagged photos, is used to limit the distribution of content related to child sexual exploitation and most recently, images portraying violent extremism. It’s also used in reverse-image search tools. The hash value is a short, unique string of characters which facilitates speedy searching and identification of a specific photo. These digital fingerprints can be quickly computed, but it’s difficult to reconstruct a photo from its hash value, which means that even if someone gets hold of the hash of a sexually explicit photo, they can’t regenerate the actual image.

THUMBS UP

You don’t have to report every instance of a photo

A photo will no longer need to be reported each and every time it appears on Facebook, nor do you have to know which other accounts have uploaded it. It doesn’t matter if the photo has been uploaded a thousand times on Facebook; one report can not only take down the picture, the image’s hash value will be used to identify and eliminate duplicates of the photo on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. A report will still have to be filed for each different photo, but only once. This spells enormous relief for people – most frequently women or LGBTQI persons – trying to control the spread of their intimate photos.

It can stop future uploads of the same photo

As we all know, the creation of multiple accounts to share these photos is a common strategy, especially clone accounts of the person whose photos are being shared without consent. The photo-matching technology will also alert Facebook to a non-consensual image upload in progress and stop it in its tracks.
This raises a question for us, however. A frequent strategy in “sextortion” and other threats (demands for more intimate photos, videos or sexual acts to avoid public distribution of sexually explicit material) is to publish a post and then erase it and/or the account after the target of the threat has seen it. It’s a way for the perpetrator to gain greater control over the subject. So, by the time the report is reviewed, the post is gone. Will such photos still make it into the hash system?

Reporting finally won’t seem useless

Women we’ve worked with are desperate because reporting seems futile, especially when they are repeatedly told that a picture “does not violate community standards”. In extreme cases when reporting has not worked, women have succumbed to sextortion in order to get images taken down by the poster. The slut-shaming, revictimisation and sexual harassment that women can experience when reporting such photos (to police and to internet platforms – for example, those who offer intimate photo and video sharing and who charge women for photo take-down) are a further deterrent to reporting. Knowing that anyone can report and that there will be an immediate system scan for the photo once it is identified as non-consensual eliminates the risk and the feeling that reporting won’t change anything.

No database of photos

The hash value is what is used for photo-matching, not the actual photo, so this means that intimate images are not stockpiling in a database ripe for hacking or sharing among those with privileged access. This provides further confidence for reporting. Facebook stated that photos are stored in their original format “for a limited time” only. It would be good to know how limited that really is.

Repercussions for posters

In the announcement, Facebook assures us that accounts posting photos identified as non-consensual will likely be disabled. In another news story, the social network refers to permanent deactivation: “Once your account is deactivated for this type of sharing, it’s deactivated, says Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety.” This will be heartening for many people, as battling against fake accounts created for the sole purpose of this type of sexual harassment is especially time-consuming and upsetting.

Facebook is taking a stance – sort of

It’s positive to see that Facebook’s emphasis has been on “protecting intimate images” and not “revenge porn” (although media coverage of Facebook’s innovation, unfortunately, prefers this mistaken concept). If we keep branding the problem as “revenge porn”, responses invariably entail calls for abstention, censorship of sexual expression, and victim-blaming, rather than recognising that people’s rights to privacy and bodily autonomy have been violated. The decision to deactivate accounts that have uploaded non-consensual images can send a strong message to people about Facebook’s stance on consent and intimate images. People who attempt to upload a flagged photo will get an advisory message that it is in violation of Facebook community standards too. Facebook could go a long way towards educating its user community if it is serious about helping users understand this issue.

NEEDS MORE WORK TO GET A “LIKE”

Lack of awareness raising

News blasts and platform alerts regarding Facebook’s fake news tool, released just one week later, far surpassed publicity around its new approach to protecting sexually explicit images. Women and others being affected still don’t know this new solution exists, and the Facebook community doesn’t know the platform has a clear position on more than women’s nipples.
Warning messages about community standard violations are necessary, but Facebook could also take advantage of a thwarted upload to raise awareness regarding consent criteria. Could Facebook have a targeted public message campaign on sexual rights, expression and consent in partnership with civil society organisations? Or how about a simple ad announcing how to report a non-consensual intimate image?
In some countries, Facebook points people to organisations that can provide support when sexually explicit photos are leaked. Facebook should broaden its resource network to reflect the global geographic and multilingual diversity of its community. It should ensure that recommended organisations defend women’s rights from a human rights framework rather than a moralistic or protectionist point of view which further policies and shames sexuality. Facebook could deepen the collaborative process with the safety roundtables initiated in 2016 to help rights organisations raise awareness on its platform about bodily autonomy and why the non-consensual distribution of intimate images is a violation of people’s freedoms.

Reporting system is not intuitive

Facebook has had an option to report non-consensual sharing of intimate images for a while – what changes with this innovation is what happens after a report. Unfortunately, it’s still not as straightforward as it could be, something we’ve pointed out to Facebook consistently over the years. If you are naked in a photo, and those likes are climbing exponentially, you don’t have time to figure out which rabbit hole of drop-down options you should go down. Most women we accompany immediately choose the logical “I’m in this photo and I don’t like it”, which only takes you to seemingly petty (by comparison) options about the way your hair looks and letting your buddy know you want the pic taken down. There is no “It’s a private sexual image of me being shared without my consent” option there. Why not? Why not include the option to report a non-consensual photo in any logical place a user might go?

This is something you will like: Where to go to report intimate images shared without consent

So where do you have to go to report? Select “This should not be on Facebook” > “What’s wrong with this photo?” > “This is nudity or pornography (for example, sexual acts, people soliciting sex, photos of me naked)”. This option is more intuitively selected by a bystander – a Facebook citizen concerned about community standards – than by someone directly affected. You can also use this form to report, even if you are not a Facebook user

How to report a picture posted without your consent

Lack of clarity around account banning and creation

It’s not clear how long Facebook plans to keep an account deactivated. Will people be banned for life if they have posted intimate content without consent? “Banned for life” may sound extreme, but users can usually create a new account easily. They won’t be able to post the same photo, but they can get back on Facebook. The new measure does not address this problem.
It’s also not clear if every single account that shared the photo will also be deactivated. What will happen to those accounts that attempt to upload a previously flagged photo? Will Facebook examine other information such as IP or browser fingerprint to determine repeat offenders, similar to Twitter’s attempts to kerb abusive accounts by comparing phone numbers, or who is being targeted for attack by new accounts? Will repeat offenders face immediate deactivation of new accounts?

Context matters

Leaving such nuanced decision making up to algorithms or artificial intelligence would guarantee disaster. Rather, Facebook cites a team of specially trained community operators will vet the images. Details of what this special training entails remain murky. Minimally, multilingual, multicultural staff trained in understanding gender, sexual rights and expression, victim-blaming and unintentional censorship are needed to properly understand the context in which such photos are being shared and the harm that can result if they are not taken down.
Even with special training, context is everything. What if the photo is non-consensual but not exactly in violation of Facebook’s nudity terms? Is the fact that it is non-consensual sufficient to tag it as a violation? What if it puts the subject at risk because the image content goes against cultural or societal norms or reveals someone’s identity?
Many people post photo teasers that don’t quite violate the Facebook nudity policy, linking off-site to other online spaces after hooking in their Facebook community. What if the user is located in a country where state and community policing of sexuality can put their bodily integrity at risk if such photos are viewed? How will Facebook’s community operators respond in these context-specific situations? Is their ultimate goal with this policy to “prevent harm”, ensure consent, or enforce nudity standards?
Community operators are under pressure to make decisions in the blink of an eye given a number of reports they must address. With this widespread problem, you need more specially trained support team members, not faster decision making.

Accountability

Any decision to take down content and close accounts in a service as broadly used as Facebook demands special considerations around accountability, transparency and appeal. We hope Facebook will share and continue to consult with rights-based organisations about how its criteria for take-down can evolve, the type of training for community operators, and how it will evaluate the effectiveness of this measure. Transparency regarding the number of take-downs accounts affected, and analysis of the scope of the problem would be invaluable to develop better solutions on Facebook and beyond.
A lot of specific questions arise depending on one’s advocacy work. For example, those supporting women facing non-consensual distribution of intimate images want to know more about cooperation with legal proceedings: will relevant information such as the extent of photoduplication and accounts responsible for or attempting distribution still be available if requested by a court order, especially if accounts are being closed and photos eliminated from the system?
Freedom of expression advocates will have a lot of questions about proportional response and monitoring if Facebook has overstepped. For example, how to ensure that an account ban is proportional to the offence? Any woman who’s been deluged with harassing comments or lost her job (to name just a few consequences) due to non-consensual sharing of an intimate photo will not question if banning is proportional to this violation of Facebook community standards, but such questions are important to ask from a rights-based point of view. As banning is Facebook’s last and most extreme option, how does harm or intent play into account suspension? For example, what if you are a kid randomly sharing sexy photos, possibly without knowing the subjects, versus someone targeting a woman’s employer, colleagues, family, friends, or linking the photo to identifying and locational information? What if a user is tried under some sort of civil law or penal code, pays damages or even serves time – should they never be allowed to have a Facebook account again?

Women’s agency

We cannot dismiss that biased enforcement of community standards has translated into violating women’s freedom of expression and rights to bodily autonomy in the past. Facebook considers women’s bodies as inherently sexual. Although last year Facebook reiterated that breastfeeding or pictures of mastectomies do not fall under its nudity ban, it still regularly censors news in the public interest, pictures of protests, sex and health educational campaigns, and artistic expression.
It is essential to ensure that women’s consensual sexual expression is not being censored as a result of these new measures, especially when photos are reported by someone other than the subject (a positive feature but one that can be abused).

The right to appeal

The appeals process is crucial because if there is one thing women’s rights defenders know, it is that policies made to defend people whose rights are marginalised are frequently taken advantage of by those with power to further marginalise those at risk. We must all be alert to how this system might get played to attack consensual sexual expression and any expression in favour of women’s and LGBTQI rights.

Collaboration

For years Take Back the Tech! and many other women’s rights activists have been asking internet intermediaries to take some responsibility regarding the online gender-based violence that their platforms help facilitate, including the distribution of sexually explicit images without consent. We even had to do a campaign about in 2014 – What are you doing to end violence against women?. A key demand was consulting with women’s rights activists and women Facebook users, especially those based in the “global South”, to gain a deeper understanding of women’s realities on Facebook and how the harm they experience has been magnified by the platform’s personalised, networked nature and historical lack of privacy by default.
For this innovation, Facebook collaborated with the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, which has advised survivors and legislators in the US on this issue since 2013. It also finally held safety roundtable discussions with some participation from women’s rights organisations based in Africa, Asia and to a lesser extent Latin America in 2016. While collaboration does take the time it clearly produces valuable, nuanced solutions. If this had been a true priority for Facebook, such a solution could have been viable sooner, especially within Facebook’s own platform.
Non-consensual distribution of intimate images is clearly a problem that is much larger than Facebook. If this measure stays limited to Facebook, people will simply increase this activity on other sites. An important next step will entail cross-platform collaboration throughout the tech industry. Collaboration with rights-based organisations to avoid unintentional censorship and the system being abused to limit LGBTQI and women’s rights, including their right to sexual expression, is also necessary. Non-consensual distribution of intimate images is not a legal violation in most countries and may be a civil rather than criminal offence. It is frequently poorly defined; some countries have even tried to outlaw sexting, the consensual sharing of intimate images. Experiences in assessing violent extremist images and establishing a shared database of hash values, although also controversial, can help inform how this initiative can grow.
If Facebook is able to cultivate a gender-aware, rights-informed support staff who can vet questions of consent and context – not just nudity – when making calls on intimate images, the resulting database will provide extensive credible content of invaluable potential if later pooled in a shared, independent cross-sector database. Such an initiative has to be focused on addressing harm, not kerbing sexual expression, education, or pleasure.
10 ways to make Twitter work for feminist activism 2017-05-08T09:08:49+02:00

Author: Samukelisiwe Mabaso
Source: GenderIT.org

 

I decided to do a little exercise, I typed #feminism in Twitter’s search bar and the top tweet that came up was this comic that immediately spoke to me.

(Screenshot by author. The user who published the tweet has been anonymised and the creator of the cartoon is Brown Paperbag Comics

I understand that the results could vary but on this particular day and time, the above tweet was the top result and is one of the primary reasons I find Twitter effective. Twitter provides people with a platform to share their opinions, to interact with like-minded people (not always), and to communicate in real-time and on a global scale. Although Twitter has its downsides (trolls, for example), in this article I’m going to focus on the positives and identify 10 ways I believe feminist activists can make the most out of Twitter to achieve their goals.

1. Awareness/advocacy

Incorporating Twitter into their online activism tactics can be an effective way for feminist activists to achieve their goals. Online activism varies from conventional activism in numerous vital ways.

“Online activism affords opportunities for issue-focused efforts that allow activists to identify with and support specific efforts, for promotion of goals and activities that can reach further and more quickly than is the case with traditional activism, potentially reaching beyond its contained status. In addition, online activism occurs in a liminal “third space”, a place where traditional rules governing society can be set aside.” (Newsom & Lengel, 2012:32).

Additionally, online activism offers the possibility to empower marginalised voices, the opportunity for cross-boundary dialogue, and affords a stimulus for social change. Online feminist activist spaces endeavour to present the possibility for enacting the notions of gendered dialogue thus they are an outstanding basis to develop a discussion of gendered identity and dialogue online. Online awareness/advocacy centres on executing action and organising the movement. When coordinating action, Twitter is valuable as it empowers activist groups and participants to create a time- and cost-efficient communication channel, it allows for communication between countless people globally, and can be accessed anywhere and anytime (Vegh, 2003:74).

When coordinating action, Twitter is valuable as it empowers activist groups and participants to create a time- and cost-efficient communication channel, it allows for communication between countless people globally, and can be accessed anywhere and anytime

FeminismInIndia – a feminist platform which amplifies the voices of women and marginalised groups using tools of art, media, culture, technology and community – is a prime example of feminist activism in action on Twitter. For instance, in April 2017, FeminismInIndia promoted the hashtag #UnsolicitedAdvice which looked at how women receive advice which is given or supplied without being requested or asked for. FeminismInIndia shared their own tweets on the topic, retweeted users’ responses and responded to users’ tweets as shown below:

Screenshot by author

2. Organisation/mobilisation

Ok ladies, let’s get in formation! Twitter can also be used to organise and mobilise. Firstly, online activism – in this case Twitter – can be employed to call for offline action (for example, encouraging Twitter users to join a protest), secondly, it can be utilised to call for an action that typically occurs offline but can be accomplished more efficiently online (for example, asking people to make a donation – before the introduction of the internet this was traditionally done offline), and thirdly, it can be used to call for an online action that can only be feasibly executed online (Vegh, 2003: 74-75). A prime example of an online action that can only be feasibly executed online is tweetchats. For instance, in October 2016, KrantiKali – a multi-platform start-up promoting gender equity and feminism through gender inclusive performance – hosted a tweetchat on feminism. Users were invited to participate in the tweetchat, facilitated by KrantiKali, and were also encouraged to make use of the promoted hashtags.

Screenshot by author

 

3. Create network publics

Network publics are publics that are reorganised by networked technologies. Thus, they are concurrently the space created through network technologies and the imagined collective that develops as an outcome of the intersection of people, technology, and practice. Like other kinds of publics, networked publics allow people to meet for cultural, civic, and social reasons and they help people connect with a world beyond their immediate family and friends (boyd, 2010:1). Although networked publics share similarities with other kinds of publics, the ways in which technology constructs them creates noticeable affordances that mould how people engage with these environments. “The properties of bits – as distinct from atoms – introduce new possibilities for interaction. As a result, new dynamics emerge that shape participation” (boyd, 2010:1).
In light of the above, the Twitter community that feminist activists have developed could be considered a network public.

 

4. Create counterpublics

The term subaltern counterpublics was conceptualised by Nancy Fraser as “parallel discursive arenas where members of subordinated social groups invent and circulate counter discourses, which in turn permit them to formulate oppositional interpretations of their identities, interests, and needs” (1990:67). Fraser (1990:67) provides the late-twentieth century U.S. feminist subaltern counterpublic, with its variegated array of festivals, academic programs and conventions, as an example. Fraser argues that in this public sphere, feminist women conceived alternative terms to describe social reality, such as “sexism,” “sexual harassment,” and “acquaintance rape”. Equipped with this new language, feminists reorganised their needs and identities, thus lessening, yet not eradicating, the degree of their disadvantage in official public spheres. The formation of subaltern counterpublics provides subordinated social groups support and collective resistance.

According to Fraser (1996:68),

“In stratified societies, subaltern counterpublics have a dual character. On the one hand, they function as spaces of withdrawal and regroupment; on the other hand, they also function as bases and training grounds for agitational activities directed toward wider publics. It is precisely in the dialectic between these two functions that their emancipatory potential resides. This dialectic enables subaltern counterpublics partially to offset, although not wholly to eradicate, the unjust participatory privileges enjoyed by members of dominant social groups in stratified societies”.

In the above statement Fraser proposes that the dual objectives of counterpublics are recognition and redistribution. First, the subordinated elements of a person’s identity – for instance, race, gender, sexual orientation and nationality – are valued as a fundamental organising principle (recognition). Second, counterpublics present a space “from which agitation and resistance against institutional and cultural hegemony is promoted and maintained (redistribution)” (Carducci & Nicolazzo, 2012).

Fraser proposes that the dual objectives of counterpublics are recognition and redistribution. First, the subordinated elements of a person’s identity – for instance, race, gender, sexual orientation and nationality – are valued as a fundamental organising principle (recognition). Second, counterpublics present a space “from which agitation and resistance against institutional and cultural hegemony is promoted and maintained (redistribution)” (Carducci & Nicolazzo, 2012).

The Young Feminist Visions project – diverse young feminists advocating in UN spaces to hold governments accountable for respecting, protecting, and fulfilling the human rights of women, girls, and young people – could be described as a counterpublic made up of young feminists. In the tweet below, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) shared an image from the project, “” mentioned the author of the quote, included a URL to the project’s website and included the hashtag #YoungFeministVisions. By making use of the hashtag, ICRW is enabling members and potential members of the #YoungFeministVisions counterpublic to find the tweet, spread the message and possibly engage in a dialogue.

 

Screenshot by author

Although Twitter can be used to create counterpublics, the platform’s lack of privacy could prevent some feminists from feeling safe to express themselves. Thus, platforms such as Facebook could be preferred for creating counterpublics as private groups can be formed where members require permission to join. I strongly believe that feminists should feel safe enough to express themselves openly on Twitter, and other social network sites, and should not have to resort to creating private spaces to feel safe.

5. Network-building

In order to make an impact, a feminist activist cause requires support and solidarity. One way of achieving this is through network-building. Twitter is an effective platform for network-building as it provides opportunities for cross-boundary dialogue and it has features such as “retweeting”, “liking” and “hashtags”. Retweeting, “the act of forwarding another user’s tweet to all of your followers” (Twitter, 2015), alerts the Twitter user who tweeted the original tweet, as well as draws the attention of followers to the retweeted account. Retweets may also be used to establish solidarity or spark a conversation. On the other hand, “liking” a tweet indicates that you appreciate it (Twitter, 2015) and also notifies the user whose tweet you have liked. “@” mentioning a user (which ensures that the mentioned user gets a notification of the tweet), participating in tweetchats and using hashtags are additional ways feminist activists can encourage network-building.

6. If you like it, put a hashtag on it

A key feature for feminist activists who use Twitter is the hashtag which is a word or “tag” prefixed by the symbol “#”. Bruns and Burgess (2011:1) describe a hashtag as a “short keyword, prefixed with the hash symbol ‘#’ – as a means of coordinating a distributed discussion between more or less large groups of users, who do not need to be connected through existing ‘follower’ networks.” Hashtags can emerge organically from within the Twitter community or can be pre-planned offline (Bruns & Burgess, 2011:1). Hashtags have several benefits. For instance, they allow Twitter users to follow and contribute towards a hashtag conversation. Thus, making it possible for them –

“to communicate with a community of interest around the hashtag topic without needing to go through the process of establishing a mutual follower/followee relationship with all or any of the other participants; in fact, it is even possible to follow the stream of messages containing a given hashtag without becoming a registered Twitter user” (Bruns & Burgess, 2011:2).

Hashtags can also be used to help create counterpublics and encourage solidarity. For example, feminists and others who identify with a feminist activist cause can engage with a hashtag with the expectation that they will be connecting with like-minded people. Examples of feminist hashtags include #takebackthetech and #imagineafeministinternet. However, one cannot ignore the possibility of “trolls” hijacking a hashtag in an attempt to deter feminist activist goals. “Internet Trolls are an online subculture who participate in posting upsetting or shocking content, harassing users, and spreading false information for their own enjoyment” (Klempka & Stimson: 2013:2).

Hashtags can also be used to help create counterpublics and encourage solidarity. For example, feminists and others who identify with a feminist activist cause can engage with a hashtag with the expectation that they will be connecting with like-minded people. However, one cannot ignore the possibility of “trolls” hijacking a hashtag in an attempt to deter feminist activist goals.

#GamerGate, an online movement, is a prime example of trolling. Initiated in 2014, the #GamerGate campaign claimed it was targeting corruption in gaming journalism and challenging ethics in the gaming industry. However, the campaign had its roots in hate speech towards women who make and talk about video games and resulted in widespread arguments about gender in gaming. The online movement took a pivotal turn when feminist commentator Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel a speech at a college after receiving an anonymous threat on her life (Dockterman, 2014).7. Act as agenda-setters

Agenda-setting is “a theory about the transfer of salience from the mass media’s pictures of the world to those in our heads” (McCombs & Ghanem, 2008:67). In other words, “the media’s agenda sets the public’s agenda” (McCombs & Ghanem, 2008:67). By taking on the role of agenda setters feminist activists can portray women as multidimensional beings and not minimise them to stereotypes such as sexual objects for example.

Feminist activists can act as agenda-setters by sharing stories from alternative, non-commercial media sources (sources which the public may not be familiar with), and by adding their own commentary to news stories. When sharing articles, videos or blog posts, feminist activist can reframe them with original commentary, and address particular networked audiences, thus drawing them into a conversation. A primary way of acting as an agenda-setter is by rewording headlines. For example, when The Vagenda magazine, a feminist online magazine, asked their Twitter followers to tweet them edited headlines, this is what they came up with.

 

8. Include URLs

By including URLs in their tweets feminist activists can overcome the 140-character word limit of a tweet. Linking to external media is also an effective agenda-setting strategy as feminist activists can encourage users to visit external sources for additional information and promote alternative, non-commercial media sources.

9. Memes to mobilise

In recent years, memes have become a popular kind of imagery shared online. A meme is “an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by internet users, often with slight variations” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2016). Tweets with images get more engagement, they allow humour (which varies in different regions and cultures), they can make data more accessible (up to four images can be included in a single tweet), and images expand automatically in a user’s timeline so that users can consume the content seamlessly (Stecyk, 2015). The use of humorous images by feminists can be effective as it challenges misogynistic ideas of “humourless” feminists. For instance, Take Back The Tech! – a campaign working with grassroots movements around the world to take control of technology to end violence against women – shared the meme below during their 2015 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Twitter campaign to encourage internet rights and sexual rights activists to come together for 16 Days of Activism.

10. Infographics to inform

Infographics have also become increasingly popular on social network sites and should be embraced by feminist activists to achieve their goals. According to Techopedia (2016),

“an information graphic (infographic) is a visual representation of a data set or instructive material. An infographic takes a large amount of information in text or numerical form and then condenses it into a combination of images and text, allowing viewers to quickly grasp the essential insights the data contains. Infographics are not a product of the web, but the internet has helped popularise their use as a content medium”.

Infographics are an effective and efficient tool for feminist activists to disseminate information to their followers on Twitter, and various other online platforms. Furthermore, infographics are an effective communication strategy as research shows that humans suffer from information overload. Studies have shown that humans receive five times as much information today as they did in 1986 (Alleyne, 2011). Infographics counter the abovementioned information overload as they summarise complex information in a visualised manner whether that be a graph or image. This visual representation of information can also help overcome language barriers thus helping feminist activists spread their messages globally. Furthermore, according to NeoMam Studio’s (2016), infographics are effective because they are accessible, persuasive, are easy to digest, fun to share, and engaging. For instance, the infographic below, shared by the Women’s and Gender Studies program of Minnesota State University Moorhead, makes use of icons, statistics and graphs to communicate the gender gap in media.

Ultimately, there are numerous strategies feminist activists can employ to achieve their goals. Although Twitter has its flaws, it does have features which lend itself to being an effective communication tool. I hope that after reading this, more feminist activists will be encouraged to embrace Twitter and incorporate some of the suggestions discussed above in their campaigning efforts.

Source: GenderIT.org

Girls’Net Project Flies 2017-05-08T09:08:59+02:00

2015 has really laid the foundation for the Girls’Net project. WomensNet rebuild the website into the new format that is also a mobisite with exciting new features.

We have created a platform where girls and the schools and clubs can sign on. We have broaden the scope to include various social media platforms and included gallery to collect the photo’s of the clubs, schools groups and Community Based Organisations.
The training is important and at WomensNet we have negosiated with Media24 and together we have developed a Community Journalism training for schools with a focus of engaging girls and to promote the idea of being a community journalist / schools journalist.

Hastag Radio

With the support of #hastagradio we are in the process of including anti-bullying awareness training to the social media component. Youth Leaders and teacher will be able to participate in accredited training and will be given the tools to lead the girls and boys to use social media.

Safe Schools Project

Most of the vulnerable youths are in the Western Cape on the Cape Flats and we have partner with the Department of Education – Safe Schools Project to provide training to 28 schools in the cape flats. WE have identified young women who have been appointed as youth leader in the schools and we hope to provide them with the training needed to inspire girls to organise a schools newsletter in the schools to address issues of safe use of technology and anti-bullying in schools.

Gauteng Projects

In Gauteng we continue to work with place of safety and other schools where we have started Clubs. In Gauteng we also include out of school youths working in Community Based Organisations and youth groups.
We have identified Mpumalanga as a hot spot because of the lack of NPO that provide services. On our visit to the region we could not find many women’s organisations that provide services to abuse, rape or substance abuse. WE have partner with 10 schools in Ermelo (Gert Sibanda) and we have used community conversations to create awareness of HIV/ Domestic Violence and substance abuse.

Digital Stories

We are excited in 2016 to introduce the Girlsnet project to give young women and girls access to technology to tell their stories and to support each other. Our partnership in Mpumalanga includes schools and youth organisations.

Digital Story Telling experiences 2017-03-16T12:47:53+02:00

Healing power of story telling

What can I say…except that life goes on and we all do what we are required to do. I am not much of a blogger but there are times when words are the things that heal and gives one time to reflect on things. The digital story workshop was one of those things that created healing, for me and some others. I came away with a feeling of being healed and ready to move on. This is what I say that words and pictures can and do heal. If you are hurting….write it down do you own story around that hurt, put pictures to the words and add music if you wish.
Submitted by Joy
What on earth are you doing writing a blog ? Are you crazy in addition to all the other things that you are ? At your age, you should know better !! Well, yes, actually I am crazy, and anyway, blogs look a little bit like dragons, and I ended up my digital story by saying that I go looking for dragons to slay now, so out comes my digital pen that is mightier than the virtual sword, and I jump into the deep end ! Firstly, a BIG THANK YOU to Sally and WomensNet for hosting the event, and to Liesl of Gender Dynamix, for insisting that I come and share my story, and to Anthony and Ruth from GALA, for building a library of information to be available to those looking for maps. Finally, a VERY BIG THANK YOU to all the other delegates who gave up their time to be at the workshop. It was great to hear your stories on day 1, and then to see them come to life on the big screen on the last morning. It was a great learing experience for me to be in such a multiracial, multicultural, multi-everything group. My old eyes were opened. Thank you to Busi for challenging us to look for people bold enough to speak for us. This is my little contribution, in a way. Life will never be the same again ! My 4 kitties were very glad to see me – so glad in fact that they forgot to punish me for leaving them alone. Lots of love to you all !
Violence against Women 2016-02-02T09:06:31+02:00

Violence Against Women has been described as a ‘scourge’

Statistics show that women suffer very high levels of sexual assault, rape, domestic violence and intimate femicide. There is general recognition that violence against women poses a significant threat to human rights and the development of women and girls, though there is some disagreement as to approaches and methodologies for ending violence against women.

We collect together here resources, research and news for students, researchers, journalists and activists. We also have a section for practical help for those who might need tips and tools for addressing violence against women.

A report done by Women for Women International has found that violence against women poses one the biggest threats to peace. This is not only an issue in South Africa but all over the globe. This report has been released on International Stop Violence Against Women day. The report found that at the goals to eliminate poverty and empower women, have fallen increasingly short of its expectations.

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa 2016-02-02T09:09:39+02:00

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

Rodney’s classic study of the impact of European capitalism on the continent of Africa continues to provoke, inspire, and educate – it resonates more than ever before.
Angela Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz

Few books have been as influential in understanding African impoverishment as this groundbreaking analysis. Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa.

With oppression and liberation his main concern, he ‘delves into the past’, as he says in his preface, ‘only because otherwise it would be impossible to understand how the present came into being … In the search for an understanding of what is now called “underdevelopment” in Africa, the limits of inquiry have had to be fixed as far apart as the fifteenth century, on the one hand, and the end of the colonial period, on the other hand.’ He argues that ‘African development is possible only on the basis of a radical break with the international capitalist system, which has been the principal agency of underdevelopment of Africa over the last five centuries’.

His Marxist analysis went far beyond previously accepted approaches and changed the way both third world development and colonial history are studied.

Although first published in 1972, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa remains an essential introduction to understanding the dynamics of Africa’s contemporary relations with the West and is a powerful legacy of a committed thinker.

If you’re an African non-governmental organisation of limited funds, please email info@pambazukapress.org to arrange a complimentary copy of this ebook (Adobe PDF).

Ebook orders within the United Kingdom include VAT.

Publisher Pambazuka Press