News from the CSW

Hashtag activism has helped to propel women’s rights to the forefront of political agendas, bringing attention to issues often under-reported by mainstream media, panellists have told an event at the UN in New York.

Social media has helped women to share experiences of sexual violence, such as on the HarassMap platform, launched in Egypt, and has kept international attention focused on events that have slipped off the news agenda, such as the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, launched in 2014 after the abduction of more than 300 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria. The hashtag has punctuated more than 4.5m tweets globally.

But speakers at the event, held during the Commission on the Status of Women(CSW) and organised by the OECD Development Centre and UN Women, conceded that the extent to which online engagement translates into policy change or practical action remains unclear.

Mollie Vandor, a product manager at Twitter, said conversations about feminism on Twitter had increased by 300% over the past three years. A performance by the singer Beyoncé in front of the word “feminist” underpinned a 64% increase in tweets containing that word. Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech this year, in which she referenced pay inequalities, resulted in 320,000 tweets about #equalpay in two hours.


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