November 25 begins 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Women and men around the world are coming together now to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women. This year World Pulse is focusing on the power of technology to create awareness and take action on this issue. We are partnering with the
Association for Progressive Communications to bring you the 2013 Public vs. Private: Define Your Line. Shape Your Space. Take Back the Tech Campaign. Here are several actions that YOU can take today. Choose one (or four!) and share your experience in your World Pulse journal by December 13.
Historically, violence against women has often been seen as a private matter rather than a public issue. Harassment meant to keep women out of the public sphere extends to digital spaces, where women are often silenced, shamed, and threatened. World Pulse is passionate about redefining digital spaces to encourage women to claim their voice online as outspoken changemakers.
What’s your line? Define it! Take back the tech!
Share the actions you took in your World Pulse journal. Tag your post "TBTT."
How can we use technology to speak out against gender-based violence? Below are four things you can do to Take Back the Tech! The first step is to
join the World Pulse online community if you are not yet a member.
Next try out these actions and tell us what your experience was: Did you feel empowered when you did it? How did your friends, family, and community respond? Would you do anything differently next time?
Take Action Now!
1. Tell Them You Care! | Love Letters to End Violence
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When we sit down to write a letter, we think about the person we are writing to, hold them in our mind, and put into words what they mean to us. We invite you to apply that intention to ending violence against women.
Write a love letter to someone about ending violence against women. This can be a love letter to your daughter to share what you’ve learned about dealing with sexual discrimination, or your best friend about body acceptance, or to someone who
shared her experience through a journal post to let her know you are really listening and that you can find courage together. You can even write to your government officials to ask them to to make a real difference on this issue!
Letter writing can be extremely personal and private, but it is a powerful form of storytelling. A letter can move us to empathy, drive us to action, or be just the thing to recharge our batteries and keep us going.
Type your letter directly as a World Pulse journal post or scan handwritten letters and upload them to your journal as an attachment. You can also leave your letter in a public place for someone to find or post on Twitter (
View examples here
Here are three posts from past Take Back the Tech campaigns we would like to share with you:
“Here I sit, head bent, writing you an intimate letter. I sense your presence, even though I don't know your name. I envision you as a young woman, possibly a young man, somewhere between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, but you may also be a decade older--or younger--than that. You may not yet be born.
Perhaps I am trying to speak to my own younger self. When I was coming of age--a process which is still far from over--no one ever spoke strong truths to me in a loving voice. When I was your age, I did not know what I needed to know in order to understand my life--anybody's life. Perhaps, in writing to you, I wish to correct that, to make amends..."
Letters to a Young Feminist.
"A year back, I became romantically involved with a man. It was a long distance relationship. When I met him, he seemed to be someone who was extremely liberal in his outlook even though he comes from a rather conservative background. He was everything I could ask for. Educated, established and outgoing. For me beauty is not about looks but how a person is at heart. Hence it does not make sense for me to comment on his looks here. But, physical beauty is the only thing he was looking for in me when I met him. This however, I understood much later...."
My Body is My Business, which reads as a love letter to women and girls all over the world who has ever felt loss of control over their own bodies in the name of love, and regained it.
"For her entire life, I'd encouraged my daughter to explore computer programming. I told her about the cool projects, the amazing career potential, the grants and programs to help girls and women get started, the wonderful people she'd get to work with, and the demand for diversity in IT. I took her with me to tech conferences and introduced her to some of the brightest, most inspiring and encouraging women and men I've ever met.
Sadly, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and you, sir, created a horrible one for girls in computer programming.”
To My Daughter's High School Programming Teacher, an open letter written by a tech consultant about sexual harrassment in engineering.
2. Talk Back! | Burst Media Bubbles
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It's hard to watch television or flip through a magazine without being bombarded with gender stereotypes. Advertisements feature women's intimate and gratifying relationships with floor cleaners and laundry detergent, or women sprawled over expensive autos. Soap operas frequently portray scenarios of domestic violence, with women depicted as fatalistic victims rather than survivors. News media often sensationalize violence against women and selectively present sexist ideas about power, women, and sexuality, obstructing understanding of what rape is really about.
These constant messages can push women to stay silent about the violence they experience, keeping the issue private. It's time for these media culprits to hear our public outcry.
What can you do when you encounter a media portrayal of a woman that perpetuates stereotypes? Help her talk back! What do you think she would really like to say?
Step 1: Take a critical look at women's representation in media and ads.
Read to learn how
Look at newspaper or magazine articles and photos –online or offline – and examine how women and men are portrayed. In pictures, how often are women featured in positions of political power vs. men? Who appears in the lifestyle section? When women are quoted or highlighted, are they experts in economics, beauty, or crime victims? In sports sections, is there even a mention of women athletes?
Surf ads on the Internet: – look for products frequently geared towards just men or just women. How are women and men portrayed? If you were that woman or man, what would you have to say? What would you have to say to the company that produces this ad?
Search for technology - computers, minicams, mobile phones. How are women's and men's relationship to technology portrayed?
Search for “sexist ads.” Some publicity is so offensive that people had to speak up about it. You'll find dozens of initiatives for voting on “the most sexist ad” to pressure companies into reasonable representation and awareness that their consuming public – men and women – do not buy into stereotypes.
Make note of the image locations using bookmarks/favorites in your browser.
Step 2: Add your speech bubble.
Read to learn how
Give those images voice by adding a “speech bubble” on ads or articles.
If the media you found is offline, write your comments on paper and paste it on the ad like a cartoon speech bubble. Take a photo and upload it to your World Pulse journal using the tag " TBTT". Use an online tool like
Speechable or Superlame to insert a speech, thought bubble or caption directly on the Internet. This makes for easy sharing in all your online spaces. Other mobile apps and online services do this too – choose any you like! Don't forget to put #takebackthetech and worldpulse.com somewhere on the picture too.
Share your image in your World Pule journal. You can also embed the photo on your website or blog or send through your social networks.
3. Sign To Stop Violence! | Update Your Signature
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Our signature. In school, we spent hours perfecting it, making sure it had our personal flourish. It makes a statement about who we are, and we identify with it for our entire lives. Today your digital signature can be automatically included at the end of every email we write, sometimes without our realizing it. Many of us forget about our digital signatures as soon as we set up our email accounts.
Take a moment today to review your digital signature. Consider updating your signature to let people know about the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence. Share links to information, support centers, and ideas about how to help end violence against women and girls (including inviting others to join Take Back the Tech!).
For example, you can add a signature like this:
"Did you know that Nov. 25 to Dec. 10 mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign? Take a stand against violence by joining the campaign or connecting with a safe and supportive global community on this issue!"
For instructions on how to update your signature, take a look at:
If you use a different email provider, try searching in Google for instructions.
Make every email you send help take a stand against violence! 4. Share the Knowledge! | Access To Information
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Access to the Internet means more than points of connectivity. Even where there are schools, community centers or cafes with Internet in our neighborhoods, access to the Internet can still be limited if you can't find information relevant to you and your needs, or in your language--or if those cybercafes are expensive or open at times that are difficult for women to visit.
Imagine broadening the definition of access by information, resources, and tools.
What women find on the computers in the cybercafe also can help shape a broader definition of access; to information, resources, and tools. We can help everyone, men and women, learn more about violence against women and resources that are available just by changing the first thing they see when they connect: the home page. Take action in three simple steps
1) Learn about violence against women globally, regionally or right in your country and community. Sadly, you will find many statistics, especially about sexual violence and intimate partner violence. Look for local support centers or sites that can help women understand where they need to go to file a report, what their rights are, what laws exist. Perhaps you will find sites that help men understand what they can do to help end violence.
2) Bookmark the sites that are the most powerful, thought-provoking, and useful.
3) As you use the Internet in public places, in schools, libraries or cybercafes, change the home page on the browser to one of the sites you've identified. Computers may have more than one browser, and you can change it on all of them: Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or any other. You can find instructions on how to change your home page available
If you prefer, get permission from your local cybercafe owner or manager to do so. Take advantage to tell them about the 16 Days Campaign and the importance of getting information out to our communities. Maybe you can persuade them to keep the home page against violence active year round, or to even offer special classes or trainings for women.
The first step in taking a stand against violence is bringing this issue to light, and providing resources to combat it!
These are only a few of the actions that you take to broadcast your voice against gender-based violence. Check out the
Take Back the Tech website for even more actions people are taking around the world. Do you have other ideas that you want to share with the community? Write a post and tell us about other actions you are taking, as well as suggestions on how women around the world can use technology to speak out. And don't forget to add the tag to your submission! TBTT
Read the stories as they come in! We will be sharing them with the entire World Pulse community, and with key partners.
Together, we can speak out against gender-based violence, using technology to help us raise the volume. Join the Take Back the Tech initiative and take a stand against violence!