by Carol Palomino

Social media these days isn’t just used to keep up Snapchat streaks, post on your finsta, or tweet about your favorite celebrities. These days, social media serves as and creates a platform that activists can easily reach to fight for social issues they’re passionate about. It is amazing the power that a simple hashtag can have, especially for the feminist community and the women’s rights movement. Just think about #BringBackOurGirls, the hashtag that became viral to spread awareness about the 276 Nigerian girls taken from their secondary school. Social media is not the only outlet that feminists have used to spread their empowering message. It has taken on other forms of media, such as books and movies. Now more than ever, women have been taking a stand against gender discrimination through these platforms, whether it be directing a movie or typing a hashtag.

As of September 26th, 2017, Saudi Arabia made it legal for women to drive. This is a major step toward gender equality in Saudi Arabia, however, these women still have to fight for many basic rights. For example, before a woman can participate in any type of social activity, or apply for employment, they must ask a male guardian, whether it be their father or husband, for permission. In 2014, over 15,000 Saudi Arabian women used the hashtag, #IAmMyOwnGuardian to sign a petition against that norm that is apart of their very patriarchal system. With the power of social media, these women made their voice be heard and the hashtag go viral. This also allowed millions of people across the world to become more educated on the social status of women in Saudi Arabia. Not only does the petition show the valiant efforts and courage of Saudi Arabian women, but the power that this platform can have.

In the past few years, some of you might have encountered #LikeAGirl while scrolling through your Instagram, twitter, or facebook. The #LikeAGirl campaign was launched by the feminine hygiene brand, ‘Always,’ with the mission statement of empowering young girls going through puberty to make them feel confident and strong. In the original commercial, people were asked to throw a ball or run ‘like a girl.’ Almost all of them performed the actions in a weak manner, simply dropping the ball, or falling to the ground. The phrase, ‘Like a girl’ has unfortunately always had a negative connotation, meaning that doing something ‘like a girl’ almost always translates to being weak and frail. It was Always’ mission to get rid of this ideology and encourage everyone to share their interpretation of what it means to do anything like a girl on social media. The hashtag is still viral today and has created waves amongst all social media outlets. To do something like a girl means to be passionate, strong, and confident. It means be unafraid of your mistakes and failures, and to take them as a learning experience and grow. ‘Always’ still encourages you to share your stories with #LikeaGirl in hopes of inspiring and influencing young girls who have not yet recognized their worth and beauty.

Social media isn’t the only media outlet that has been helping the feminist movement advance. Recent films have lent a helping hand to women from all over the world wanting to smash the patriarchy. Alankrita Shrivastava, an Indian director, has been breaking gender roles and resisting the very patriarchal norms of India with her feminist movies, “Pink” and, “Lipstick Under My Burkha.” “Pink” sends a message to Indian women to think, dress, and live freely. She wanted to remind women that it is their prerogative what they want to do with their life. Released in 2016, “Lipstick Under My Burkha” follows the lives of four young Indian women, including one going to college, and an oppressed housewife. This movie sends a strong message to the general public that women want to live a life freely, without the patriarchal and misogynistic ties that they have to live with holding them back. Fight on, Ms.Shrivastava!

As the years go by, the feminist movement has been becoming stronger and the message is being spread to people all over the world. No woman should ever feel as if they do not have a voice, and with the help that media outlets have given women, we are louder than ever. Remember, you have the power to make a difference. Take it from the 15,000 Saudi Arabian women who courageously stood up against an outdated law, or Alankrita Shrivastava, who is making movies to reassure Indian women that they have a choice and a voice.