The hashtag #ToTheGirls2016 is designed to empower the next generation.
It’s known as space where the world connects, but for women, Twitter can also be a hotbed of abuse and harassment. Some experts have even speculated that the platform will die because of its problems with cyber bullying. But on Thursday, Twitter became a somewhat safer space thanks to the efforts of author Courtney Summers.
In an op-ed for The Guardian, Summers called for people to post messages of encouragement and support for teenage girls using the hashtag #ToTheGirls2016. “Now more than ever, it’s important for us to consider the impact we have on one another, and to do whatever we can to ensure it’s a positive one. #ToTheGirls2016 is just one way to make that impact,” she wrote. The hashtag soon began trending worldwide as thousands of tweets reminding girls not to stand for gender inequality—both online and in real life—poured in.
It’s not the first time Summers has addressed the obstacles that girls still face in today’s society. She’s the author of All the Rage, a sobering tale about a teen girl named Romy Grey, who is sexually assaulted by the son of a local sheriff. “It’s my hope that girls going through anything like what Romy goes through can read the book and feel less alone. It’s my hope girls who pick up the book will read it and know they are seen, heard, and loved,” she wrote.
Summers staged a similar effort in 2015 when the book was released, which “encouraged people to use #ToTheGirls to send messages of support, advice, positivity, and empowerment to girls across social media,” she wrote. “The hashtag trended worldwide and inspired countless hopeful, beautiful, wonderful, fun, and moving notes to young girls. No sooner had it ended than I was being asked, ‘Will you do it again?’ ”
The need for support of girls facing sexual harassment—and for platforms to crack down on the harassers—certainly exists. One in four women ages 18 to 24 reported being stalked or sexually harassed online, according to a 2014 Pew Research study.
This time around, Summers has also set up a Tumblr page where people can submit words of encouragement. “With the Tumblr, #ToTheGirls2016 can continue past a single day. It will be there for young girls when they have an empowering message they need to share—and it will be there for them when they need to read one,” Summers wrote.
Source: Take Part