Last weekend The Pink Dinosaur went to a panel on Women, Activism and Social Media hosted by the American Association of University Women, featuring the leaders of www.unitewomen.org— a women’s organization that operates completely online!
The story behind unitewomen.org is truly inspiring. The organization is just one year old— originally created as a Facebook group after two friends got fed up with the congressional hearing denied Sandra Fluke the right to testify. When 500 members joined the group overnight (!!!), the co-founders realized they had to take action.
Last April they organized rallies all over the country - which, because they were fully legal and permitted, unlike certain other movements *cough* Occupy Wall Street *cough*, received minimal attention from the media. Since then, UNITEWOMEN has expanded to all 50 states, with many young women on college campuses joining the discussion on Facebook and in their communities.
The power of UNITEWOMEN is clearly its ability to mobilize through social media. The organizations leaders use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to make- within minutes!- connections that help them draw attention to the cause. Some times that means connecting with a media outlet for more publicity. Other times it means reaching out to women in need. Through social media, UNITEWOMEN even helped organize support for Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist who was shot in the head last October. (That’s one story they won’t go bragging about, but I’ll gladly do it for them!)
While their reach is increasingly international, their current focus is on US politics. And their most effective strategy? Twitterbombing. When important bills come up in state legislatures, UNITEWOMEN mobilizes their supporters on Twitter to inundate politicians with tweets! On more than one occasion, the flood of tweets has swayed the politicians’ vote in favor of women’s rights.
According to the women who run UNITEWOMEN on a daily basis, the balance is shifting away from traditional news sources like radio and television toward social media. Members of UNITEWOMEN share stories, strategizes and reacts to policy events in real-time through their infrastructure on Facebook. Without social media, the organization couldn’t have grown as fast as it did or operate on such a large scale. One year since its founding- and 100 years since the suffragettes marched in Washington- UNITEWOMEN.org is harnessing virtual tools to make a very real impact.
You can find out more on their website: http://www.unitewomen.org/