HOW TO GET INVOLVED
“Online violence against women is an overt expression of the gender discrimination and inequality that exists offline. Online, it becomes amplified.” – Jac sm Kee
How would these cases have affected you? Virtual discrimination and violence have real consequences. They can be emotional, or evoke physical reactions. We may feel hurt and insecure and restrain ourselves from expressing our opinions. There have been far too many cases of self-harm inflicted after online harassment. And what about the individuals who act against us, physically, following a virtual encounter? All of these types of consequences are very real.
According to the Take Back the Tech! online map, the platforms with the most instances of “tech-based” violence against women are Facebook and mobile phones, with a majority of cases not having been committed by strangers. Consequences include emotional harm, harm to reputation, invasion of privacy as well as physical harm. Of the cases reported, less than one-third were acted upon by the service provider and less than half of the cases reported to authorities were investigated.
The fact is, any instance of virtual discrimination or violence, just as any instance of real world discrimination or violence, is an act committed against someone – an act that makes that someone a victim and is thus illegal. So whose side are we on if we accept and even reinforce the victimization?
Much needs to be done to protect women online. Official policies and action plans to combat gender-based violence must acknowledge and incorporate strategies for combatting violence online. Social media platforms must not only forbid violence against women on their platforms, but must also exercise diligence in ensuring the effectiveness of their posting regulations.
Such policies exist. However, implementation remains a weakness – due to questions of free speech and capacity, but much more so due to questions of inequality: not taking online gender-based violence seriously and not showing the will to proactively guarantee women’s rights online. It is time for societal change worldwide to recognize violence against women and to stop it. Citizens of the virtual world are not powerless. We can petition governments and social media companies to realize their standards and we can use our actions, online and virtually, to create this change. We must proactively refuse gender-based violence offline as well as online.
This is why we are showing our support for women in the virtual world, and just as much so in the real world, by declaring: #Idontjudgeher. She has a right to be herself online, as offline. It is not my place to judge her decisions and her virtual identity. Instead, we can offer any number of positive reactions. We can #support, #love, #listen, #help…the list goes on.
You have the power to shape your virtual world, your real world. Your actions online can have severe consequences in real life, and not only in extreme cases. Of course, your actions can also have enormous positive consequences as well. If we want to make a difference for women online, we need to deal with the underlying problems including discrimination, hate and violence. Join us in calling for a positive virtual environment in which we not only do not harm women, but respect and empower women. The virtual world is a woman’s world as much as anyone else’s – and we are standing for women’s rights online, offline, and everywhere in between.
In order to take on gender-based discrimination and violence online, Genderality is built on a number of tools. We encourage you to use any, or all, of these tools to join the movement and make a stand. As we are focusing on women’s rights in the virtual world, these tools are online tools. However, what is virtual is also real, and there is nothing stopping you from taking the campaign to your physical surroundings as well!
The hashtag that will signal the Genderality campaign is #Idontjudgeher. Just by adding the hashtag to your posts, you will add your voice to the campaign. If you would like to take your participation one step deeper into the campaign, you can follow #Idontjudgeher with what you do do instead. For example: #Idontjudgeher – #Isupport her! #Ilove her! #Ilisten to her!
We will be interacting with supporters by means of our web page (http://genderality.connect-international.org/), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/VPSLibero) and Twitter (@VFR_LIBERO). Follow us and, moreover, engage with us! We’ll be sharing content relevant to ending online gender-based discrimination and violence. Let us know what you think – like it, share it, comment on it. We’d also love to know your thoughts on the topic – raise issues, post content, express your opinions, join discussions, and let us know what you are doing to combat violence against women.
We also look forward to using social media for its networking potential. We want to reach as many individuals as possible with our message – and especially those individuals who would likely have no knowledge that such a campaign exists. Through awareness and education we can build the support network necessary for achieving greater societal change. To this end, we encourage you to share your activity on the Genderality campaign with your friends, family and groups in which you are involved. If you are part of an organization, please encourage your members to join us. The greater our network of solidarity, the greater our impact!
On our website (http://genderality.connect-international.org/) XXXXX is a tool for making posters that you can share on social media. This is our main campaign tool and we look forward to your creativity in developing a gallery of messages from around the real and virtual worlds.
By making a poster, you are making a statement. Upload a photograph of yourself using the [uploader]. Consider the roles that you play in another woman’s virtual life – are you a friend? A mother? A colleague? A client? A police officer?
Now consider how these roles, your roles, affect that woman. Rather than judging her online actions, what could you do instead that would support and empower her? Choose one, and enter that action into the [action field].
In the last [description field], write a description – tell us the role you chose for this poster, and the action you can take. You have up to some characters, so feel free to add any additional message you wish to share.
When all fields are complete, one further click will generate your poster! The following are several examples:
- I am a police officer and when I am investigating a stalking case: #Idontjudgeher – I listen to her and protect her.
- I don’t always agree with the way my daughter dresses and the photographs she shares. But: #Idontjudgeher – I #respect her decisions.
- I’m the director of a domestic violence victims’ support network. #Idontjudgeher – I #help her get the resources she needs to choose her next steps and stay safe.
- She’s my best friend. I worry about the guy she met online. #Idontjudgeher – I make sure she knows she can always talk to me.
- I just hired her but I saw some party pictures when I searched for her on Facebook. #Idontjudgeher – I give her a chance and base my opinions on her professionality by what I see in the office.
There’s one more crucial step to take – make your statement visible! Click on the [share buttons] to share your poster on your social media profiles. We’ll also add to your visibility by adding your poster to our Gallery of Activists and sharing some of the most inspiring messages on Facebook and Twitter.
HOW TO JOIN THE CAMPAIGN
Joining the campaign is as simple as contributing your voice to the discussion, which can be done in a number of ways whether you are an individual or an organization. Use our tools – from the hashtag #Idontjudgeher to following and engaging with us on Facebook and Twitter to making your own poster – there are many possibilities for you to express your unique voice.
In addition to using our online tools, we encourage you to bring your virtual engagement in the Genderality campaign to the real world. As the possibilities are endless, we can only offer a small number of suggestions for how to do so. Be creative, and let us know what you are doing! The basic principles, however, are simply this: talk about your participation and realize the actions you’ve come up with to combat gender-based discrimination and violence.
- Tell their peers and encourage discussion with them about online gender-based violence;
- Form a school club that will educate other students and uphold the pledges you make within the Genderality campaign;
- Choose one aspect of online gender-based discrimination or violence and find out who in your community is working on it. Reach out to them and let them know about your solidarity;
- Organize a community event, such as a film screening, concert, theater piece or discussion, in which online gender-based discrimination and violence are discussed, as well as how the community can respond;
- Contact your local police force and local politicians and let them know that combatting online gender-based violence is important to you;
- Write an op-ed for your local newspaper explaining online gender-based discrimination and violence, and what you are doing to change the situation;
- Let a woman in your life know what role she plays in your life, as well as what you will do to support her!
Groups and organizations can (in addition to the above suggestions):
- Let all of your members and supporters know that you are joining the campaign and encourage them to join too;
- Publish a press release detailing your organization’s participation in the Genderality campaign and your unique experience in the community;
- Organize a community event such as a workshop, training session, or public hearing in collaboration with partner organizations, inviting members of the community as well as policymakers;
- Invite local artists to address the topic and create an exhibition;
- Organize a demonstration to raise awareness and demand specific actions to combat online gender-based discrimination and violence.
- Write a petition focusing on the aspect of gender-based violence on which you are working – and share it with us as well!