Freedom of expression and fundamental rights

The Role of Social Media in Women’s Rights

Written by – I. K. Prabha

“What can a woman can do with spoon-sized wisdom?” is a problematic question that many people have had in the past. Some men arrogantly think that men are the superior gender. In turn, women who cling to old-fashioned female images, in particular, develop low self-esteem. A woman’s tendency to act without an understanding of her own rights is understandable when looking at the way society operates. As a result of neo-globalization, liberalism has become more conservative until traditional ideologies about women in a world of heterogeneous roots are rejected.

As an extension of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, steps were taken between 1976-1985 to further develop the concept of the woman and her rights. Hillary Clinton stated at a research conference at Beijing in September 1995 that “human rights are women’s rights”. She further said that “women have the freedom to enjoy all these democratic rights without any restrictions, even if they are educationally, politically, economically and socially diverse”.

It discusses how various governments and civil society organizations are taking the lead in advocating for women’s rights today, and the issues women face, especially in the context of empowerment, education, health and employment, targeting different levels of society in the public space. We can also see how the woman is mentally abused in the social media space. Some people use a variety of social media platforms, sometimes using humour, and harsh phrases, targeting women through words, music, images, and the lyrics of songs. 

When inquired about the impact of women’s rights and the tendency to demean women on social media, psychologist Mrs. Samitha Ethuldolarachchi said that “the context of the discourse has led to an identity crisis for women”. She believes that women facing a problem of identity is a major factor in upsetting the balance of society. The literary and religious ideology of making a woman a goddess, as well as the pedagogical thinking of making a woman a prostitute, vaguely places an idea of femininity in society. The feminist discourse that builds the opposite narrative has shortened this ideological dilemma into a gender issue. According to Mrs. Ethuldolaarachchi, “women have nothing to gain from men. Instead, the image of a woman who knows how to live on the earth, where feminine qualities have the potential to heal, must be reintegrated into society. This is a new discourse that needs to be rebuilt and we need to rethink the qualities that women possess and bring to the world.” She says “these qualities as something that biologically transcends masculinity or gender that is established in society”. She also states that “the emergence of these qualities through motherhood, which has become worthless in current, and rights discourse has contributed to many factors such as increased social violence, the deteriorating mental health of the entire population, the breakdown of family institutions and the undermining of governance. 

Dividing children’s identities based on their gender and dividing by gender as adults can lead to inferiority or superiority complexes. But the stream of thought given to the woman in the rights discourse is that she should act equally as the man. This can be seen in the way various programs are implemented around the world. “Degradation of the woman in the media is the main reason why she is despised in the world of men. The contribution of a strong woman for men’s existence is clearly needed, and a woman’s identity crisis also brings men’s identities into a crisis. Therefore, re-establishing the image of women is the main factor influencing a healthy society”, Mrs. Ethuldolaarachchi remarked. 

Social media-focused programs conducted by women for women can be expected because of the current significant increase in the tendency of young women activists today to engage in social media. They have demonstrated their ability to gain attention on social media and in social groups, and act as influencers that shape opinions which impact on society. 

For instance;

  1. Hashtag campaigns are being used to create women-centric political agendas

#BringBackOurGirls – Million tweets

#HeforShe – 1.2 billion people

  1. Introducing the “Harass Map” in Egypt in 2010 which was used to identify anonymous messages of a sexual nature that were sent to women.
  1. The people rallied in an organized manner to gain and influence the attention of the Indian government during 2012 gang-rape incident. 


Unfortunately, many women follow a silent policy of not using social media and new media space properly. (http://bitly/1fsUak3

Overall, in countries such as India and Turkey, there seems to be a subtle effort at present to focus on women’s rights in the process of implementing policies for women. (ICRW, 2010) However, it can be seen that the situation in Sri Lanka is spread over very limited space and it is still operating in a dilapidated manner.

The best solution is to eliminate any negative attitudes women have and engage them in the decision-making process, making them politically conscious. Additionally, implementing women-centered training programs on the use of media and technology is important. For instance, encouraging women to launch campaigns on social media, raising awareness about the use of hashtags, encouraging her to identify social media monitoring influences for their rights, encouraging them to identify target groups and creating the background needed to socialize a strong message.


It is imperative that a woman makes it clear that she wants to create the background needed to protect her rights by attracting public attention through activities such as decision-making, participation and leadership aimed at women’s rights. Programs on media and social media should be more active using women at the grassroots level with the participation of both traditional and non-traditional people. Women should always be used as a special person to strengthen the existing relationships in society, with the people and the government. It is imperative to build a global network of contacts. In order for a small society problem to be turned into a global problem, a culturally oriented audience must spread ideas within the social media space so that each other’s cultural elements can interact. It is also a necessity of the age to expand the space available for this in the social media space.

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Sri Lanka Press Institute.

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