05/15/2017 05:22 EDT | Updated 05/15/2017 05:22 EDT

Young Women Use Social Apps For Social Change

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Modern wireless technology and social media illustration


My strongest community exists on Whatsapp, the platform of choice for my closest, yet geographically distant, friends to discuss their daily successes and struggles. Social media is revolutionizing our relationships, from how we form personal networks to global campaigns.

Global networks formed through technology are powerful tools for girls and women to make their voices heard. In this era of connectivity, young women are using social media to step to the forefront of important societal moments, support one another and capture the attention of global leaders.

Perhaps no recent movement offers young women a more relevant blueprint for action than the Women's March. What started as a march became a global phenomenon that used social media to bring people together in the real world while also sharing the experience online. While the turnout, estimated at around five million globally, was impressive, the social community that it helped create is even more remarkable. The global online threads encouraged discussions about inclusion and guided women to continue their advocacy work far beyond the initial event.

As the Women's March showed, people no longer need live in a major city in order to mobilize for a cause. Gone are the days of needing to picket the White House or bus to protests like those in Springfield or Washington to make a point. Now, even the 35 Marchers that rallied in Zebulon, Georgia could tag photos of their demonstration to Twitter and join the global conversation as easily as my friends and I did when marching with the heaving patchwork of protestors moving towards London's Trafalgar Square.

Technology is bridging not only geographical gaps, but cultural ones, as communities open new spaces for inclusive conversations. Young people have the opportunity to harness social media and enhance their communities through the discussion and celebration of differences. When the Women's March was denounced in threads online for excluding women of color, LGBTQ+ people and even conservatives, organizers made an active effort to address their mistakes and recruit a more diverse group of people.

Online communities are extending more than a warm welcome to members - they're also able to extend the lifespan of social movements. Months after the Women's March, online communities like the Facebook group Pantsuit Nation continue to issue calls to action and act as support networks. March organizers provided their followers with tips to help make their voices heard, such as writing elected officials and taking advantage of their rights to vote. These communities are now ready to mobilize for a cause they find important, whether political, social or economic.

See the need for a conversation? Start it with a hashtag. Looking for a community? Discover one online, or start it yourself. So, fire up your phone, open Twitter, send a message, take a Snap - and ignite a social movement! Technology is a powerful tool for you to find - and empower - your community, wherever it may be. Use it with purpose.

By Kate Cyr, G(irls)20 Delegate, USA

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