I love meeting new people, online or in person. I’ve always been active on social media and particularly enjoy the conversations that come naturally on Twitter. I’ve been fortunate to have very positive experiences on the platform and value the people I’ve come across, especially many of the incredible women I’ve met online.
Regular users of Twitter understand the genuine connection that develops with people you regularly Tweet with online, and when you meet a Twitter ‘friend’ in person it can often feel like meeting a long-lost friend.
However, it is impossible to be on Twitter and not notice denigration of women. It pops up in comments, jokes, abuse and harassment that would simply not be tolerated in person. Often the threatening or offensive behaviour can be directed at women for doing nothing more than offering a counter view or openly disagreeing with someone.
Twitter has done some powerful work in recent times to increase online safety. I applaud these efforts and know that while it won’t totally stop denigration of women online, it is going quite a way to address the issue.
The #CelebratingWomen project (@CelebratingWom) began earlier this year after I wrote an opinion piece that put forth the idea we needed to see more celebration and less denigration of women online. Until that point, I had simply been Retweeting achievements of women or stories I heard about women doing great things. But I did not think that went far enough to make enough ‘noise’ to celebrate women and to focus on the positive stories about women online. So I started thinking about how I could use conversations on Twitter to share women’s profiles and see them celebrated.
From this simple idea the #CelebratingWomen project began. I have now committed to profiling, and therefore celebrating, at least two women from all walks of life across the world every single day in 2017. Every woman is asked to answer the same four questions and to share some personal photos.
The response has been extraordinary. As of 5 March 2017, I have celebrated 125 women with many more to go to reach my goal of at least 730 women by the end of the year. There are no qualifying criteria in order for women to be involved since I believe every woman is a role model to someone else, whether they realise it or not. Therefore, the more diverse the role models we celebrate, the more each woman is likely to inspire another. Every woman who wants to be involved in #CelebratingWomen will be included.
The diversity of the women so far has been extraordinary. So far there have been women who work from home, mathematicians, teachers, scientists, business leaders, health and safety professionals, journalists and artists. Some women have been high profile, others may only be known to a small circle of friends and family. But amidst the incredible diversity of what each woman ‘does’ and how they describe their life to date, the unifying factor are inspiring women who are being loudly celebrated online.
And to further add to the diversity, by using Twitter the #CelebratingWomen project has gone global. So far women who have already profiled or are slated to be profiled soon hail from Australia, New Zealand, United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Serbia, Ireland, Germany, Finland, France, Kenya and Iceland.
I am not naïve enough to believe that this project will end denigration of women online. But I am proud that for a while, we may drown out the negativity with the very loud noise that is a celebration of so many brilliant women in our midst.
Every woman is encouraged to get involved in #CelebratingWomen. There is a very quick and easy online form that only takes a few minutes to complete. Just follow this link for all the details:https://www.cognitoforms.com/CelebratingWomen1/CelebratingWomen