Young Feminist Wire: Young Feminist Activism Online
FRIDAY FILE: AWID's Young Feminist Activism Program recently launched the Young Feminist Wire an online community for and about young feminists around the globe.
By Kathambi Kinoti
The internet revolution has meant different things to different sectors of the world’s population, but it is obvious that young people most affect and are most affected by it. The internet is shaping knowledge generation, communication, activism and social life in ways that its creators probably never imagined.
The Young Feminist Wire is an online community for and about young feminist activism. According to Ghadeer Malek, Nadine Moawad and Sanushka Mudaliar from AWID’s Young Feminist Activism (YFA) Program , the idea for it was a long time in the making. The YFA team’s sustained interactions with young women around the world affirmed to them that young women’s rights activists wanted better mechanisms to connect with one another. “They were interested to know what other young women active on women’s rights were doing on a local, regional and international level, what issues were they working on and what strategies they were using” say Ghadeer Malek. “It was clear that young women felt isolated from their peers and felt that finding ways to connect with each other would enhance the effectiveness of their activism.”
It was not only young women who felt the need for a global online space for young feminist activism. “Older women’s rights activists and donors were asking about young women’s work and were wondering the same thing: who are the young women working on women’s rights issues and what are they doing?” says Nadine Moawad. “Of course, we knew that the young women were out there, but because of the many added challenges they face due to their age and the positions they hold within women’s movements, it is harder to see and identify them.”
Connecting and informing
Young women are carving out spaces for themselves in cyberspace, and are not only speaking on topics perceived as young women’s issues, but also on issues affecting women rights activists everywhere. This is an area that the Wire expands. For example it carries a video interview of a young Honduran activist speaking about the human rights situation in her country.
The Wire puts young women’s activism in context. The world has changed. Youngpeople are communicating on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social networking interfaces. These spaces are sites for expression and activism. In recognizing the democratization of information sharing , the Wire is an interactive space for young feminists. Nadine Moawad says: “What we needed was not just a website that presented information but something that was also dynamic and interactive enough to capitalize on the energy that young women have for online spaces and allowing users to share and generate their own information.” She says that they are looking to the community of Wire users provide information about what young women are working on and the issues that they focus on. “We don’t necessarily have all of this information,” she says. “But in building our contacts and reaching many young women through this online space we are hoping to build this information together with them and make this a resource not only for them but also for the wider women’s rights community in general; established women’s rights activists, donors, allies and others.”
Sanushka Mudaliar emphasizes the role that connection plays in feminist activism. “The most significant offering of the Wire is that it connects young feminists together virtually, thereby offering a space from which creative projects and collaborative initiatives can grow,” she says. “The connection also empowers young feminists in their local work by providing peer learning and capacity-building opportunities.” She adds that doing this virtually, through an online hub, opens up exciting and powerful opportunities, but recognizes that these opportunities are limited to those with an internet connection and that other methods are needed to overcome the digital divide.
The Wire’s primary target audience is young women working on women’s rights and gender equality all over the world. The Wire team does recognize, however, that scarce resources are available for activists in the Global South and therefore it will make an effort to include information that caters to its diverse audience.
The Wire team encourages women’s rights activists of all ages to register and become a part of building the information and knowledge on the Wire. They say that they are committed to covering analysis and issues related to multigenerational work. The Wire also appreciates the lingual diversity of its audience and runs in three languages; French, Spanish and English.
The Wire has received a positive bombardment of support since it was launched. According to Moawad, in the first week alone, there were 12,880 visits and 217 registrations of young feminists and their allies. She adds: “We've also received many comments, submissions, and words of encouragement and support from the global feminist community.”
The YFA team is working towards making the Wire a user-generated space whereby young women activists are regularly uploading their latest news, activities, upcoming events, and also exchanging strategies and resources. They also look forward to opening up their Facebook community group where users will have opportunities to interact closely with one another and start meeting everyone registered on the Wire. The Wire will continue profiling more young feminist initiatives from around the world. Finally, Malek says: “In the future, we also want to be hosting online activities that build capacities and allow for more interaction among members of the Wire community.”
1 Part of AWID’s Building Feminist Movements and Organizations Initiative