In the last few years, social media campaigns have focused on female empowerment and increasing awareness for gender issues. Campaigns like Dove's "Campaign for Real Women" aimed to enhance girls' and women's self-esteem, and Malala Yousafzai's #Strongerthan social media campaign, urged women around the world the stand up to fear, hatred and violence.
On March 8, men and women around the world will celebrate International Women's Day, and this year organizations are using social media trends to shift perceptions.
Observed annually on March 8, International Women's Day is an occasion marked by women's groups around the world. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding the right to vote and better pay. In 1910, an International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen, Denmark and a proposal was made to set aside a day every year aimed at pushing for women's rights.
Since then, International Women's Day has been honoured as a time to reflect on how far women have come around the world, and how far we still have to go.
But in the past year, there has been a noticeable shift in the perception and understanding of gender equality, especially on social media platforms.
Many of these movements are grounded in the idea that gender equality is an issue that affects all people, socially, economically and politically, actively seeking to involve men and boys in a movement that has historically been percieved as a "struggle for women by women".
UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson (a.ka. Hermione Granger in the "Harry Potter" film series) announced she will holding a live Q&A on March 8 at 1 p.m. EST. as part of her #HeForShe campaign, launched following her powerful UN speech in September 2014.
She called for all men to "take up this mantle so that their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice," at the HeForShe launch.
"How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation,” said Watson. "Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, instead of two sets of opposing ideals."
Almost 230,000 men and boys across the world have since joined the campaign, including U.S. President Barack Obama, and actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Steve Carell and Matt Damon.
Women and men around the world can tune in for the International Women's Day event, which will be live-streamed on Facebook. Watson will answer questions that include the hashtag #HeForShe.
This year UN Women are also highlighting the guidelines for equality contained in 1995’s Beijing Platform for Action (known as Beijing+20). While progress has been made 20 years later, no country has completed the agenda.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced the #LeanInTogether campaign earlier this week, partnering with ESPN, the NBA and the WNBA to promote the message, "When men lean in for equality, they win — and so does everyone else.”
The organization encourages men to fight for equality both at home and in the workplace, as both employees and managers. The series of videos recently posted on social media sites have gone viral. They feature athletes and actors like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Hugh Jackman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Beyonce sharing their support and stories of the encouraging men they’ve had in their lives.
These groups hope to see social media and technology as the vessel for change to bridge the gender inequality gap.
With 232,948 commitments to #HeForShe and 524,152 likes on the #LeanInTogether Facebook page, social media is helping shape the current conversation and helping reshape gender equality, just in time for International Women's Day.