Every morning, no matter where we are in the world, most of us begin our days on Facebook. In between pictures of cats and babies we read the latest updates on what our friends and families are doing… and post our own updates too.
The power of the one-click Facebook update is also felt with major news stories and opinions: Before a news story reaches the television airwaves, it is often already going viral on Facebook with hundreds of people sharing their opinion on it. The power of Facebook seems to be limitless as one share equals 12 shares, which turns into 24, then that equals 48, and the next thing you know 100 people have seen and shared a piece of information, news link or picture.
Thanks to social media networks such as Facebook, the power for change in the world today is more in reach than previously imaginable. For difficult human rights issues such as violence against women, Facebook helps organisations and activists keep the subject – be it acid attacks, female genital mutilation or domestic violence – at the forefront of people’s minds.
In this article, we highlight 16 anti-violence against women Facebook pages that are unique, in their message and their delivery. Many of the pages highlighted here temper humour with information, offer a significant way for their readers to help, and make those in the fight feel less powerless and part of something greater. They present a unique perspective on a global issue — one we can all get behind. So pick and choose a couple to ‘like’, or better yet – ‘like’ them all and get informed and take action.
Written by Michelle Cahill; Edited by Crystal Smith and Regina Yau
Recommended Facebook Page 1: Acid Survivors Trust International – Global
Acid attacks are becoming more common, and 80% of acid attack victims are female. From attending school to requesting a divorce, women are attacked for any number of reasons. Cheap and easy to obtain, the acid used in these attacks rarely results in the death of the victim. Instead, the attack renders them blind, disfigured, and maimed. The survivors of acid attacks often need long-term treatment, assistance and care. UK based ASTI works with partner agencies in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Pakistan, and Uganda to support and rehabilitate survivors of acid attacks as well as increase public awareness of acid and burns violence. On their Facebook page, ASTI covers news of attacks all over the world and updates on what is being done to fight gender violence.
Recommended Facebook Page 2: The Aurat Foundation.– Pakistan
As the news carries more images of young women murdered to protect the ‘honour’ of their families, The Aurat Foundation, based in Pakistan, is a driving force behind the repeal of the discriminatory laws in Pakistan that allow this violence to continue. It is stated that honour killings have nothing to do with religion, but are another result of the disenfranchisement of women. On their Facebook page, AF features articles about their work and mixed language information about violence against women.
Recommended Facebook Page 3: AWARE Singapore – Singapore
As stated on their website, AWARE’s strongest suit is research.Their website lists over 20 publications dealing with violence against women. From pregnancy discrimination to sexual harassment to Facebook privacy, AWARE has the protection of Singapore’s nearly 2.6 million women firmly in hand. Formed in 1985, the Association of Women for Action and Research serves as a research and advocacy center, raising awareness about gender violence. In addition to these responsibilities, AWARE also maintains a free legal aid clinic and provides support to survivors of sexual assault. AWARE’s Facebook page is full of information about various women’s issues around the world. From the United States’ recent elections to staying safe during Diwali, AWARE’s page is active and vibrant.
Recommended Facebook Page 4: Bell Bajao – India
In 2012, gender experts and anti-Violence Against Women activists worldwide have voted India as the worst country for girls among the G20 nations due to a heartbreaking mix of eve teasing, female infanticide, domestic violence, dowry murder and honour killing that combine to make life dangerous for those who are born girls. Breakthrough’s campaign Bell Bajao (Ring the Bell in Hindi) urges men and boys to take a stand against domestic violence and other forms of violence against women. This campaign has been a runaway success in the face of huge cultural barriers. Their Facebook page is active, informative and filled with news and multimedia about violence against women in India and how to stop it.
Recommended Facebook Page 5: Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence – USA and UK
In Wisconsin this year, a man entered a salon and murdered three women. One of the women was his estranged wife, who had obtained an order of protection against him. CAEPV’s website states that 33% of women murdered in their workplace are murdered by a personal relation, and that 78% of those personal relations are intimate partners. As is evidenced by the case in Wisconsin, often the target is not the only one to be killed. CAEPV is an initiative founded in 1995 by business leaders who understood the effect that domestic violence has on the workplace. Companies join together to share information and use their influence to create change, not only in the office but in the world. CAEPV’s Facebook page features current trends in the anti-VAW movement and updates that just brighten your day.
Recommended Facebook Page 6: Emerge Global – Sri Lanka
Based in Sri Lanka, Emerge Global partners with shelters that house young girls between the ages of 10 and 18 who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or being under threat of abuse. They are housed while they testify against their abusers. Through Emerge, they receive an education and learn a trade that provides them with a financial foundation for when they transition to another home. Emerge Global’s Facebook page features information about gender violence as well as updates about their activities.
Recommended Facebook Page #7: Equality Now – Global
In 1948, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in response to the atrocities seen during WWII. In 1992, 3 lawyers founded Equality Now in response to what they see as a violation of women’s rights under that declaration. The result is a global movement fighting gender violence and discrimination. In addition to fighting the governmental legitimisation of female genital mutilation in Indonesia, Equality Now is currently fighting an exemption in Moroccan law that allows rapists to avoid penalties if they marry their victims. The Facebook page for Equality Now publicises their activities and makes it easy for their followers to tackle issues with petitions to sign, articles to read, and events to attend.
Recommended Facebook Page #8: Girls Are Not For Sale – USA
In the United States, people like to believe that human trafficking is something that happens overseas, in places like Thailand and Cambodia, far removed from the sloping hills of New York state and metropolitan buzz of New York City. If that were true then organisations like GEMS would need not exist. Founded in 1998, GEMS exists to help young women ages twelve to twenty-four who have been exploited via prostitution and domestic trafficking. Through housing intervention, court advocacy, and counselling, GEMS works to transition young women into safe and secure lives. As well as intervention, GEMS also works to change societal opinions about human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. GEMS’s Facebook page is a positive look at the change they are creating in the world, with lots of ideas for ways that their followers can help the movement.
Recommended Facebook Page #9: Hollaback! – Global
Scenario #1: A man calls out to a woman on the street, making lewd comments. She hustles past, hunching her shoulders and avoiding eye contact. Scenario #2: A man calls out to a woman on the street, making lewd comments. She whips out her camera phone and snaps a couple of pictures. A woman walking past stops and whips her phone out, snapping a few of her own. Thanks to Hollaback, scenario #2 is becoming more common, empowering women on the street to refuse to hunch their shoulders when a man makes lewd comments. Hollaback not only empowers women being verbally harassed, but bystanders as well. Hollaback, a photoblogging initiative, has groups all over the world, including Australia, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Israel, and Turkey. If they don’t have a group in your area they make it easy to start one. It’s a global initiative with a local focus: ending street harassment. Hollaback’s Facebook page levies the importance of stopping street harassment with a bit of humor. With lots of tips of combatting harassment, this is a great page to “like”.
Recommended Facebook Page # 10: One Man Can/Sonke Gender Justice Network South Africa.
This is a South African men’s movement that involves educating the male population of South Africa about gender violence and the reality of HIV/AIDS. One widespread belief in South Africa is that sex with a virgin can cure a man of HIV/AIDS. This false belief leads to not only a more widespread epidemic of HIV/AIDS, but a culture of extreme sexual violence. SGJN’s flagship campaign One Man Can encourages men in South Africa to be where the buck stops when it comes to gender violence. OMC/SGJN’s Facebook page has powerful images and stories of fatherhood.
Recommended Facebook Page # 11: Plan International – Global
Plan International has offices in 50 countries. Their focus is great and their reach wide; being a large organisation increases their impact. Most people can say that they have heard of Plan. So when Plan makes a statement and takes a hard line on early marriage, it gets around. One of Plan’s international focuses is the education of young girls and the education of their families of their value. Only through education can the real fight against child marriage begin. With an office and a Facebook page for almost every country, there is certain to be an office near everyone.
Recommended Facebook Page # 12; The Pixel Project – Global
The Pixel Project is a global, totally volunteer-based initiative with volunteers spread across the world. Their goal is to stimulate the fight against gender violence through volunteering, men’s involvement and fundraising. Its completely virtual platform encourages one to step outside the box and see what is happening all over the world, all while encouraging participation in what is happening at home. The Pixel Project’s Facebook page shares information from all over the globe, encourages thoughtful discussion and keeps their followers up to date on what’s happening in the fight against gender violence.
Recommended Facebook Page # 13: Stop FGM Now – Global
Based in Germany, Stop FGM Now is part of the Desert Flower Foundation started by model Waris Dirie. Through education and advocacy, Stop FGM Now intends to put an end to the practice of female genital mutilation. On Stop’s Facebook page there is a wealth of information about the current status of the anti-FGM movement all over the world, as well as information about the founder, Waris Dirie, and her current work. The page also posts topics and discussion in German.
Recommended Facebook Page # 14: White Ribbon Campaign – Canada
In 1989, a twenty-five-year-old man entered the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec. He moved through the university, targeting women. After shooting a total of twenty-eight people he turned the gun on himself. His stated purpose, before he began his rampage, was that he was “fighting feminism”. In the end, fourteen women died and another fourteen people were injured, including four men. In 1991, a group of men in Canada started the White Ribbon Campaign in response to this act of violence against women, wearing the white ribbon in an act of solidarity to end this epidemic, along with taking an oath that promises to actively fight domestic violence, raise awareness, and be good men. The White Ribbon Campaign has become a global movement with chapters all over the world. The WRC Facebook page is full of information about their work and the work of other men’s movements, as well as great photographs and videos about what men are doing to fight gender violence. It’s a refreshing page reminding the world that men are in this fight, too.
Recommended Facebook Page # 15: Women’s Centre for Change – Malaysia
According to PenangMonthly.com (April 2012), from 2001-2010 domestic violence accounted for the highest number of reported cases involving violence against women. Sexual assault was a relatively close second. This information comes from the Women’s Centre for Change in Penang – a northern state in Malaysia. WCC is the force behind the campaign for a sexual harassment law in Malaysia, as well as advocating for legal reform regarding laws dealing with sexual assault and domestic violence. WCC also offers counselling and temporary shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. On Facebook, WCC is able to reach out to potential volunteers, promote events, and keep the public abreast of what is happening in and around Penang. Their page is bilingual.
Recommended Facebook Page # 16: Young Women for Change – Afghanistan
Young Women for Change in Afghanistan, is a gender equality group with a focus on ending street harassment in Afghanistan through education, events, and most recently the first march against street harassment in Afghanistan. YWC’s Facebook page focuses mainly on the achievements of women in Afghanistan, with some focus on where there is room for improvement and aims to highlight the plight of Afghan women and the violence they suffer. Their page is bilingual.
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