Social Media Week LDN: Digital Bootcamp for Women’s E-Empowerment

SMW5For activists, campaigners and communicators working in women’s issues, delicate messages and targeted audiences are crucial to ensure both effectiveness and safety. This goes for any campaign, but especially when it involves sensitive topics like rape, sexual harassment or female genital mutilation, all topics discussed with grace and knowledge during London’s Social Media Week 2013. Albany and Wachter-Gallagher teamed up again to coordinate an event for SMW called the Digital Bootcamp for Women’s E-Empowerment, where five accomplished panellists discussed solutions to challenges facing women who are working on gender-based issues, especially in the digital realm. After the presentations, the audience participated in a hands-on workshop where teams designed their own fictional campaigns to counter the problem of forced marriage in the UK, using the skills and suggestions they learned in the first hour.

Here is a recap of the event with some of the top Tweets, more of which can be found under #smwbootcamp on Twitter.

Noha Atef, Egyptian journalist and editor of Torture in Egypt blog, spoke about the rise and challenges of Egyptian campaigns on female sexuality and female political activism.

The biggest cultural challenge was the stigmatised stamp of being a ‘feminist’ in Middle East. #smwbootcamp
— Chayn (@chaynorg) September 24, 2013

Successful campaigns against sexual harassment a) connect w/ govt b) go offline c) have simple, symbolic messages @nohaatef #smwbootcamp
— Albany (@albanyassociate) September 24, 2013

Sylwia Presley, social media consultant to nonprofits and Lingua Editor of Global Voices, presented “To be or not to be anonymous in social media as a woman campaigner,” stressing the importance of video, particularly YouTube, when campaigning online.

There are apps that blur faces when posting a video on YouTube. #smwbootcamp #SMWLDN
— Chayn (@chaynorg) September 24, 2013

Louise Robertson, Campaign Manager from 28 Too Many, spoke on “Launching a social media campaign with a modest budget on a highly sensitive subject: female genital mutilation.”

Social media bypasses the gatekeepers of old media who prevent changes to traditional practices such as #fgm @28toomany #smwbootcamp
— Albany (@albanyassociate) September 24, 2013

as a research org that provides info & enables people to seek help, @28toomany knew a strong website was key #smwbootcamp
— Albany (@albanyassociate) September 24, 2013

Libby Powell is co-founder of Radar, an organisation which offers training, support and a platform for journalists and citizen reporters in the global south and marginalised communities, especially using SMS. Libby spoke about “The growing male-female mobility divide in the global South, experiences from Sierre Leone and Kenya,” and explained how her organisation impacted elections in Sierra Leone, with a group of its newly-trained citizen journalists posting updates by SMS.

The Radar platform connects the most basic handsets in rural communities in Sierra Leone & India to news agencies through SMS. #smwbootcamp
— Chayn (@chaynorg) September 24, 2013

Finally, Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project in the UK, explained how her organisation took on giants like Facebook to counter sexist and offensive memes by targeting Facebook advertisers and convincing them they don’t want to be posted near such heinous images.

‘Facebook Rape’ is such a clever campaign by @EverydaySexism Pls have a look at it if you are interested in online activism! #smwbootcamp
— Chayn (@chaynorg) September 24, 2013

For more information about Albany and Wachter-Gallagher’s joint project to empower women through communications, don’t hesitate to get in touch: marissa@albanyassociates.com.

Marissa Moran, Albany Associates