While the Pandemic has hit young people and women the hardest financially, it has also seen the rise of new power. With diverse voices coming to the forefront thanks to online platforms.
‘The battle between old and new power is determining who governs us, how we work, and even how we think and feel.’ explains Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms in New Power. We have witnessed this through the rise of community media outlets online since the world wide web was born. The internet began with a philosophy of ‘empowering the individual.’ It has since enabled often marginalised communities to join together to provoke positive action in the world.
A perfect example of this is the #MeToo movement which fought against the old power of Harvey Weinstein. No longer could he rely on his powerful status and the hierarchy to be ‘untouchable.’ More recently social media has helped us connect with the brave human beings in Ukraine and to hold those in power to account. Dragon Den’s Star Deborah Meaden has been using her half a million Twitter followers to campaign to help Ukraine and has held the government to account.
New power evidently isn’t just about giving people a platform, but it enables people to create a movement.
But can we really feel connected in a hyperconnected world?
No matter how large or small their mission, it has been wonderful to witness other content creators aka leaders, largely women, find their voice online locally.
From Leeds-based Simply Ladies, an online community holding a real women fashion show and awards to champion women in business to Wakefield entrepreneurs Fanfare Music and WF Web design who have joined forces to create a charity fashion show in aid of Wakefield Community Foundation’s Women’s Fund. Inclusivity campaigner Mel Ellyard also set up Include Me to bring people together to campaign for a more diverse and inclusive world of entrepreneurship. Not only have these pioneers turned their own adversity into success stories but they are now using this ‘new power’ to help other women.
But sadly the story is twofold with so much online discrimination, abuse, and harassment. For women, this is largely based on gender. “I’ve been offline for a bit because my mental health can’t stand the abuse,” I see another female leader I write online. While we all need an online sabbatical for our mental wellbeing at times, it riles me that so many women who have a strong voice and gain recognition, get attacked by such ‘old power’ mentalities.
On the one hand, we have promising more democratic platforms but on the other we see these platforms breed hatred and even create old power leadership with those at the helm of social media platforms.
New power however has created strong movements such as International Women’s Day on March 8th which celebrates the achievement of women while campaigning to #BreaktheBias. I am optimistic that the more women and allies to gender equality join forces we can truly harness our power to create change online, in the media, and most of all within our communities.
This is why community media is so important because it is about harnessing often marginalised voices and enabling them to be empowered by creating media with meaning to promote positive social change – changing lives and changing minds. Connecting human beings with their community and with others across the globe. Read more from Community Media advocate, social entrepreneur, and mental health campaigner Sophie Mei Lan at https://sophiemeilan.com
Photo: As my daughter who was due on International Women’s Day marks her 10th birthday, I have a duty to champion women’s voices for a better future for all. My ‘new power’ vehicle is the media.