Social Media: Agent for Change for Women in the Middle East
The Middle East and North Africa may rank among the most challenging places in the world to be a woman. This study explores the relationship between communication instruments (social media) and women’s movements in the Middle East by focussing specifically on the right for women to drive in Saudi Arabia. A positive correlation between social media and Saudi women’s movements would suggest that social media has led to successful awareness and mobilization campaigns, even if no legislation overturning the ban against women driving is passed. In fact, the driving ban was finally overturned 27 years after the initial public protest. The relationship between social media and women’s activism is also positive because, through use of the communication instruments, women were able to mass mobilize, launch micro-movements, and gain international attention in ways that were previously unfathomable. Interestingly, the study also shows that a positive correlation can lead to negative phenomena, such as increased surveillance or the harassment female digital activists faced as a result of using social media to spark change.
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