What the Hashtag

What the Hashtag: 2015 in Review

Woman with thought bubble2015 was a year of progress on gender equality and women’s rights in Canada.

Inclusive Leadership

We voted for the #countrywewant and elected a record number of women in the federal election (#elxn42), ending the year with a gender-equal parliament and a feminist Prime Minister. While many tried to discredit this overdue move toward gender parity in government as affirmative action without merit, the women appointed as ministers are more than qualified.

What the Hashtag: Working to #EndViolence for #16Days and Beyond

Woman with thought bubbleThere was a chorus of voices calling for an end to gender-based violence in November and December.

On Nov. 19 and 20, the Ontario government brought together policy makers, service providers and activists for a summit on sexual violence and harassment or #SVHAP2015. Participants shared innovative ideas, discussed how to raise public awareness, support survivors, create safer campuses and workplaces, and spark a change in attitudes and behaviours. The Ontario government also released its second #ItsNeverOkay video and federal Minister for the Status of Women @PattyHajdu announced that the government would create a national action plan to address violence against women—a long sought-after commitment.

What the Hashtag: Taking stock of #womenshistory and the #countrywewant

Woman with thought bubbleOctober is Women’s History Month in Canada, so last month’s e-feminism looked back at how far we’ve come and set its sights on where we’d like to be.

#WomensHistoryMonth and #womenshistory highlighted the achievements of the women’s movement in Canada. In honour of the occasion, we also took a look back at our history and the 8 trail-blazing women who founded the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

The Ontario Women’s Directorate took a different approach with #ALeadingWoman, focussing on women’s leadership today, while others looked to the future. 

What the Hashtag: Are you #UpforDebate?

Woman with thought bubbleWith a federal election just weeks away, September’s online feminist activism was politically charged.

Much of the conversation centred around Up for Debate’s sold out event in Toronto and related events across the country. This meant that #UpforDebate became a unifying hashtag for women’s advocates in Canada.

Throughout September, organizations and individuals organized events focussing on women’s political representation and participation, and a host of gendered issues. For example, Whitby, Stratford and London hosted all candidates meetings on issues important to women, Halifax hosted a candidate’s debate on women’s issues, and Vancouver hosted a public education event on women's equality and why your vote counts.

What the Hashtag: Efforts to #DenyRooshV & Build #ConsentCulture in Canada

Woman with thought bubbleAugust’s online activism was all about #consent.

The month started with the unfortunate emergence of pickup artist, Roosh V, and a widely shared petition to ban him from visiting Canada. The petition didn’t keep him out but it did get people talking, and #DenyRooshV became a rallying cry for those opposed to his pro-rape message.

What the Hashtag: #WhatHappenedToSandraBland & #TheEmptyChair

Woman with thought bubbleWhile in May feminists delighted in the schadenfreude of #HowToSpotAFeminist and in June many celebrated the legalization of gay marriage in the US with #LoveWins, July’s online activism took a somber turn.

Last month, #WhatHappenedToSandraBland brought attention to the disturbing death of #BlackLivesMatter activist Sandra Bland.

Stopped for a minor traffic violation in Texas and found dead in police custody days later, Bland’s death has raised awareness and questions about state violence, institutionalized racism, the vulnerable bodies of black women, and the dangers of “driving while black”.

Women Abuse Prevention Month

Woman reflectingI don’t know about you but my media sources, social and otherwise, are FULL these days of women reporting their experiences of violence. Stories are pouring out through news reports of women who are coming out with allegations against Jian Ghomeshi (up to 9 women so far), the NDP Members of Parliament who recently spoke out about sexual harassment on Parliament Hill, and former Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps revealing that that she is a survivor of rape by a former boyfriend and sexual assault by an MPP in the Ontario Legislator back when she was a member.

I Throw #LikeAGirl, I Run #LikeAGirl, I Speak Up #LikeAGirl – and I’m Proud!

Girl playing in school yardIt’s not every day that you watch an online corporate campaign and think to yourself: “They’ve nailed it!” This is what I said after seeing the new Always campaign, ‘Like A Girl’.  It powerfully captures everyday sexism that plagues our cultural perceptions of gender and disempowers girls at a young age to believe they are weaker than boys.

Before I delve deeper into this topic, watch the campaign video for yourself here.

#YesAllWomen is Storytelling in Mass Numbers

#YesAllWomen Women are sharing their experiences of sexual assault, harassment and violence on Twitter under the hashtag #YesAllWomen. This hashtag started after Elliot Rodger murdered 6 people in Isla Vista, California before shooting himself. When the news broke out, Rodger’s YouTube videos and a manifesto came to light, which showcased his extreme hatred for women, his sense of entitlement and the need to dominate women.  He was socially isolated. He was possibly battling with mental illness. He spent lots of time with “men’s rights groups”. I’m sure there are many other possible triggers for his violent outburst.


ban BossyYou might have heard about a new campaign called Ban Bossy. It’s gained momentum in the past few days and has the support of celebrities like Beyonce, Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Garner.

It has also gained non-celebrity supporters like that of First Lady Michelle Obama, the former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.