Social media as a gateway for young feminists: lessons from the #IWillGoOut campaign in India
Over New Year’s Eve in 2016, a slew of sexual assault cases against women came to light in India’s tech hub of Bengaluru. Four years prior, against the backdrop of a violent rape in the nation’s capital of Delhi, prominent feminists and activists took to the streets as part of mass public protests calling for legal protections for women in India. The response to the New Year’s Eve allegations, however, differed in two ways. The first was the conspicuous role social media played for the first time in the feminist movement in India. The second was the leadership provided by young feminists in the country. A coalition of various feminist organisations and individuals banded together to form a collective under the hashtag #IWillGoOut. This article discusses feminist activism over a period of two weeks at the start of 2017, when the #IWillGoOut collective rapidly mobilised widespread public support calling for the safety of women and minorities in public spaces in India. The campaign organised and led marches and events in over 30 towns and cities of India with no formal fundraising effort. I draw on my personal experience of organising the campaign to share insights into its success in transforming online support to offline action using social media. This experience provides a useful example that can be used in other social justice movements in the Indian subcontinent.