Online Activism Against Gender-Based Violence: How African Feminism is Using Twitter for Progress

The chief goal of African feminism has been to better African women’s dire conditions in a mainly patriarchal society. Over the last five years however, the tide appears to be turning as feminists across the continent make greater use of online platforms to work change. This paper discusses the ways in which African women are using Twitter to protest against the abusive conditions women face including early and forced marriages, domestic abuse, abduction, sexual assault, slavery and other forms of genderbased violence. Through the lens of three hashtag campaigns (#BringBackOurGirls, #JusticeforNoura and #JusticeForOchanya), the paper examines the impact of twittering on African gender activism. Through Critical Discussion Analysis of selected tweets three key narratives emerged, constructed by the online activists who took part in the campaigns: Solidarity in Feminist Sisterhood; Gender Equality; and A Call for Justice. The tweets are analysed under these themes showing that the meanings constructed by the activists helped advance the African feminist cause. The paper concludes with the lessons to be drawn from the campaigns, which show social media’s scope for advancing the goals of African feminism.