2017 saw a rise in the impact of hashtag activism when the following hashtag movements surfaced on social media:
Out of the 497 million women in India, only 12% of women use sanitary napkins. The remaining 88% resort to handcrafted alternatives like old fabric, rags, sand, ash, wood shavings, newspapers, dried leaves, hay and plastic.
These stats compelled SheSays, a women’s rights organisation to launch the campaign ‘#LahuKaLagaan’ in April 2017 to make sanitary napkins easily accessible and tax-free. They urged people to tweet to the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley using the hashtag in support of the campaign. This campaign translated from an online hashtag into a PIL filed before the Bombay High Court. Watch this video to know more about the campaign.
On August 4, 2017, Varnika Kundu was driving back home after midnight when she was chased and almost kidnapped by two men in Chandigarh. She narrated the entire incident on Facebook. “The girl should not have gone out at 12 in the night.” “Why was she driving so late in the night?” “Parents must take care of their children. They shouldn’t allow them to roam at night. Children should come home on time, why stay out at night?” (Aren’t you sick of these questions, girls? Check out the video below.) After hearing such comments by Ramveer Bhatti, the area vice-president of BJP, Divya Spandana, an actress and former member of parliament created #AintNoCinderella in an effort to remind the world that today’s society isn’t some 17th-century fairytale where women should be held to a strict midnight curfew. Soon after this, other women started posting pictures of themselves out after midnight under the hashtag #AintNoCinderella in support of Varnika Kundu.
This was started by a retired attorney Teresa Shook the day after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. She started a facebook event wanting to protest against this, and soon after women all over the country wanted to join in. The march was conducted by people across the world to celebrate democracy and support women’s rights and equality.
Even though the movement was first started in 2006 by an activist Tarana Burke, it went viral in October 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted it in an effort to encourage women who have been sexually harassed and/or assaulted to step forward and reply to her tweet to give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
This hashtag went viral like no other. It got people from everywhere to talk about one of the biggest prevailing issues in the world for not only women but also men, sexual harassment. It was the biggest movement on social media in 2017, with over 12 million posts within just 24 hours.
When the entire Harvey Weinstein episode came to light, it ignited a fire within people to not stay silent anymore. Joyful Heart Foundation started the movement #IWillSpeakUp for men to educate and promote a healthy, respectful idea of manhood. This campaign is asking men to speak to other boys and men in their lives about sexism, and speak out against the violence and abuse that women go through.
This movement was started in solidarity with Rose McGowan, one of the accusers of Harvey Weinstein when Twitter suspended her account for violating its terms and policies. #WomenBoycottTwitter started at midnight in New York on October 13 and was first adopted by Heidi Moore, an editor and consultant. A lot of celebrities like Alyssa Milano, Chrissy Teigen, Mark Ruffalo, John Cusack joined in and maintained silence on their Twitter profiles for 24 hours to show their support.
In the wake of #MeToo, which brought to light the sexual harassment that women face daily, men showed their support with a hashtag of their own. Started by Australian journalist, Benjamin Law, the #HowIWillChange movement saw men resolving to make changes to their conduct so as to counter rape culture. The movement offered suggestions on what men could do to help change societal norms that encourage abuse, assault and harassment against women. It emphasised how by not speaking up people can be a part of the problem, even if they haven’t actually assaulted anybody.