International Women’s Day: the power of the hashtag

Over the past number of years the volume and success of feminist Social Media movements has risen tenfold. Twitter has held the Social Media platform dominance over continually shaping and publicising conversations around women’s issues. Through Twitter some of the most influential feminist movements have been started by, or powered by, women, covering pressing women’s social issues including gender equality, feminism, politics and sport. We’ve seen entire movements started by one single hashtag - Twitter ‘hashtivism’ if you will.

These movements are not only impressive and educational, but also so important in this digital generation - speaking to the people where the people are. Getting a crucial message out globally and instantly through the power of Social Media? Now that’s pretty amazing. To celebrate this International Women’s Day we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the most successful feminist hashtags over the last few years.

#EverydaySexism // 2015

Laura Bates founded the Everyday Sexism Project in 2012 and saw the hashtag #EverydaySexism start trending in 2015 after encouraging social media users to publicly share their stories of sexism faced on a daily basis. This movement has been hugely successful in globally highlighting the inequality that women still face to this day. On her website Laura states “it seems to be increasingly difficult to talk about sexism, equality and women’s rights in a modern society that perceives itself to have achieved gender equality. In this ‘liberal’, ‘modern’ age, to complain about everyday sexism or suggest that you are unhappy about the way in which women are portrayed and perceived renders you likely to be labelled ‘uptight’, ‘prudish’, a ‘militant feminist’, or a ‘bra burner’”.


#FreeTheNipple // 2012

Activist and filmmaker, Lina Esco, launched the Free the Nipple campaign in 2012. Lina started this movement after seeing how discriminatory the law was against women exposing their nipples – while men had no problem with this. This led to one of the fastest-growing movements in global equality, empowerment and freedom. When it was realised that social photo platform, Instagram, would remove any pictures of women’s breast, the #FreeTheNipple hashtag started trending, and hasn’t stopped since.

#ThisGirlCan // 2015

Sports England launched this £10m video campaign in 2015 with the focus on encouraging more women to participate in sport, saying “This Girl Can is a celebration of active women who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets”. The video features real women getting their sport on – sweat, wobbles and all. We just love everything about this campaign. They just released their new video as of February 2017.

#RepealThe8th // 2012

This one is close to our hearts here in Ireland, but also tremendously shouted around the world. This campaign is focusing on repealing the Eight Amendment in Ireland. The hashtag was started on Twitter back in 2012. Backed by pro-choice groups like Coalition to Repeal the Eight and Abortion Rights Campaign and championed by Social movements like REPEAL, RepealEight and Strike 4 Repeal. This hashtag has given a voice to the thousands of Irish and global people that want to enact a powerful and needed change in the Irish law.

Just consider for a minute the power that Social Media gives to unite an army of supporters and is monumental. Some of these movements may never have made it off the ground if not for the continuous efforts of their supporters on Social Media. There are of course ‘hashtivism’ critics out there, but you only have to look at what it’s doing for female rights in 2017 and onwards to show how meaningful, necessary and powerful it can be.

Happy International Women’s Day : )

Sarah Mc Ginn

Contributor I Social Media Summit

Scroll to top