Women in the Arab world are often seen as repressed and less than their male counterparts due to religion and unequal male dominated views. But the Arab Spring challenged this. As we have seen in my last post, social media and the internet dominated the way in which we share news. Mainstream media had taken the back burner. This just shows how socially the world is changing, emphasising the progress of the world towards becoming a better place and more forward thinking. Social media and the internet has given everyone a voice, be it anonymous or not, we are more protected when we speak up over the internet as we have the support from a larger group of people. Making it hard for opposition to mistreat a person because of their views and opinions.
The women of the internet came together to report and express their opinions towards the conflict and protests online. Not just the women of the western world, who in majority share equal rights and power as their male peers, but the women of the Arab Middle East shared and expressed their opinions online also. Who would in a traditional opinion be repressed and lack freedom of speech due to their social and political situation. These women were instrumental activists in organising protests and reform in their countries thanks to social media.
As the protests spread, blogger Lina Ben Mhenni reported from the rural areas where the protests started, including covering the security forces’ attack on protesters in Kasserine. Her work provided vital information to other Tunisian activists and brought the events there to the world’s attention.
In Egypt, activist Asmaa Mahfouz posted a video urging Egyptians to protest the regime of Hosni Mubarak in Tahrir Square on 25 January 2011, which is National Police Day. Her video went viral and the 25 January protests drew a large crowd, setting off the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.
Yemeni activist Tawakkol Karman organized protests and student rallies against the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, which culminated in the 2011 Yemeni revolution and the abdication of President Saleh. Yemenis referred to her as the “Mother of the Revolution” and she was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
Libyan human rights lawyer Salwa Bugaighis helped organize the “Day of Rage” protests on 17 February 2011. Those protests drove the Libyan army out of Benghazi, which marked a turning point in the Libyan Revolution.
These women of the Arab Spring are great examples of how our digital culture is greatly effecting female activism and bringing more women to the forefront of protecting our human rights.