शीर्षक: डिजिटल सक्रियता: महिलाओं को सशक्त बनाना, बदलाव लाना और मानव अधिकारों की मांग करना


  "There is nothing that frightens men more than the wrath of any woman ..." 

                                       - Baroness Helena Kennedy, Women, Peace and Security Conference, 

                  Binghamton University Keynote, 23/4/20 


The last decade has seen a huge increase in the use of digital technologies supporting the activist efforts of many individuals and organizations. Such activism has raised many issues, ranging from raising awareness of specific issues, advocacy and mass mobilization to taking responsibility for action and generating feedback. In particular, women and girls of all ages around the world have taken to digital overlay to create movements and promote messages, and advocate an array of demands for their rights. Furthermore, Kovid-19 has seen the proliferation of such digital activism in a unique era of global virtual dependency at a time where the world sees physical lockdown and restriction of movement.  

This online revolution is part of a phenomenon known as network feminism or cyber-feminism: publicizing and mobilizing the rights and voices of women and girls worldwide through a series of digital platforms. These activists are taking advantage of the digital world to capture the intersections, diversity, multi-faceted and nuanced range of the feminist agenda. For many, online platforms have become an integral and evolving space for both activism and feminism to coexist and unfold. This digital generation of feminist human rights activism is a feminist appreciation of conscience, voice, empowerment, brotherhood and engagement. 

 The power of digital activism is deep, providing an opportunity for women and girls to come together, connect, expand and share their vision. Digital networks allow for cheaper, faster, inclusive and far-reaching campaigns that are globally. There have been a whole series of digital campaigns led by pioneering feminists, creating an array of victories. Clearly, one of the most influential and widespread digital campaigns of the last decade has been the #MeToo movement, started in 2006 by Tarana Burke, a Bronx activist who wanted to break her silence against sexual harassment And provided a place where the victims find solidarity and support. A decade later in October 2017, The movement grew rapidly to highlight widespread accusations against Harvey Winstein. The campaign has spread to more than 85 different countries from the global north to the global south and changed important discourses on sexual harassment and assault. The movement has left a legal and advocacy imprint involving all genders in sexual harassment and assault as well as debates about consent.

These activists are taking advantage of the digital world to capture the intersections, diversity, multi-faceted and nuanced range of the feminist agenda.

Although the #MeToo movement reflects the galvanized transformation of digital activism, the movement is uneven in its scope and impact globally. Many critics argue that such campaigns hurt the more rigorous implementation of the rule of law, the fight to end gender equality and gender-based violence. Some also argue that the movement lacks intimacy, which limits the voices of young and global South people, as well as not fully understanding the wide range of experiences of victims. Although such movements demonstrate the power of solidarity and collective digital action, they also point out that feminist activism is not an unbroken and collective movement with a shared mission.  

Digital activism has empowered many women globally and created positive change. It has also provided a vehicle for global travelism and audiences where digital citizens comment and make decisions inciting prejudice, hatred and violence. Just as digital activism has grown, so has cyber-hatred, trolling, and bullying, which, along with a campaign, has devastating effects on individuals. Feminist campaigns bring with them anti-feminist rebellion of anti-feminist and widespread reactions.  

It is important that digital workers are not absorbed in a virtual vacuum that has been separated from the physical world of activism. There is a wonderful world of grassroots activism being carried out across the world by courageous individuals whose stories are never captured. In addition, there are many marginalized and vulnerable people who reject poverty and conflict, who do not have access to the digital world to highlight their plight and fight for their rights. About 41% of the global population still does not have regular access to the Internet, showing limited access to digital activism in campaigns such as #MeToo. In these communities, grassroots activism and physical activism are important in fighting for the rights of the most vulnerable global citizens and cannot be forgotten.  

Feminist digital activism showcases a forceful collective of bright, assertive and powerless women who are not afraid to take action. Nevertheless, there is a much greater need to ensure that this form of activism is sustainable and indeed promotes a lasting commitment to fight for the rights of women and girls. Such digital campaigns will have to be strongly linked with grassroots, communities and activism. Creating a lasting strategy that sees a dynamic fusion of digital and non-digital platforms to champion women and girls for many reasons adds strength. At its core, activism is a social tangible form, which nurtures its growth and development and should not be lost, but rather captured by digital activism.  

The year 2020 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action to focus on progress towards gender equality. Kovid-19 has exacerbated the plight of women in all areas of their lives. The peace and security discourse of women due to Kovid-19 clearly highlights the need for collective action and response to various needs of women and girls during the epidemic and beyond. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated clearly: "Put women and girls at the center of efforts to overcome Kovid-19".

Feminist digital activism showcases a forceful collective of bright, assertive and powerless women who are not afraid to take action.  

It has never been so important to place the female voice at the center of all the debate about the impact of Kovid-19 on the lives of women and girls. The epidemic has increased the dependence and importance of digital platforms as mechanisms for state accountability, visibility, connectivity, activism, solidarity and resistance as well as demand for action. The time has come to use those platforms to ensure global action and response to the plight of women and girls during and after this epidemic.  

This article is part of a series on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS), created in April 2020 in partnership with Binghamton University based on the Assonfrance.