Supporting women’s rights online

08 Mar 2016 UK SIC

Today (Tuesday 8th March) marks International Women’s Day an opportunity for people around the world to celebrate women’s achievements, recognise the challenges, and focus greater attention on women’s rights and gender equality. 

Today also marks the European action day to counter sexist hate speech online.  As explained by the No Hate Speech Movement“Sexist hate speech aims to humiliate and objectify women, to destroy their reputation and to make them vulnerable and fearful. It is a form of social shaming, and it is spreading the message that the women are less human beings. The No Hate Speech Movement aims to raise awareness about sexist hate speech online and its risks for democracy and its tragic consequences for young people.”

International Women’s Day therefore offers an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue of sexist hate speech online and empower young people to take action over online hate.  

Creating a Better Internet for All

On Safer Internet Day, the UK Safer Internet Centre launched the Creating a Better Internet for All report, a study of children’s experiences of online empowerment and online hate.

The survey reveals young people’s experiences online – both positive and negative. In particular the study explores young people’s exposure and attitudes to the topic of online hate targeted at people or communities because of their gender, transgender identity, sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity, nationality or religion.

The online study of over 1,500 13-18-year-olds conducted by ResearchBods found that the majority of young people have seen something hateful on the internet in the last year. More than four in five (82%) said they witnessed online hate in the last year having seen or heard offensive, mean or threatening behaviour targeted at or about someone based on their race, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation or transgender identity, with 28% of those saying this was targeted at girls/women. 

Although young people are witnessing online hate the report showed that young people want the internet to be a positive and inclusive place that respects people’s differences and they see their peers helping to create this. 94% believe no one should be targeted with online hate, while 93% have seen their friends posting things online that are supportive, kind or positive about a certain group in the last year.  It’s encouraging to see that 1 in 4 (25%) of 13-18s have shown support online to girls/women in the last year – rising from 11% of boys to 39% of girls. 

These are some of the ways young people supported women’s rights in the last year:

As these actions demonstrate, we all have a role to play to help make the internet a better place for everyone!

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