How one Gen Z marketer built a women's movement on social media
A view from Emma Bates

How one Gen Z marketer built a women's movement on social media

After recent world events left her with a feeling of helplessness, the 24-year-old head of global marketing at Away co-founded @pinkprotest. Here, she explains the lessons she learned along the way.

I don’t consider myself to be an "influencer". Instead, I prefer to consider myself a storyteller. I believe that social media can provide a platform for those stories to be shared, and that - if presented in the right way - can be a medium for a new kind of activism and platform for education.

At the beginning of 2016, I co-founded The Un-Idle Collective, which has since been renamed The Pink Protest. I co-founded this alongside a few other incredible women, including one of my most inspirational friends, Scarlett Curtis, who share the view that social media can be used as a form of activism to great effect.

Scarlett has since taken the lead on this initiative and has continued to grow The Pink Protest in the last few months alongside a number of other incredible ladies. As a group, we were passionate about empowering girls and women, and we believed we could use social media to encourage more women (and men) to take action. Instagram can be an incredible platform for reaching new audiences and has continued to give followers of The Pink Protest a way to directly engage with our mission.

The idea to create actionable change through Instagram was born out of a common feeling of being  increasingly helpless in the midst of everything that was happening in the world, with events like Brexit, the US election, and politics that were increasingly focused on fear-mongering instead of actual policy. 

Actionable information

We founded what is now known as The Pink Protest as a way to channel those feelings of frustration into something actionable by using skills we already had. Since then, we’ve heard from members of The Pink Protest community who’ve said that they were experiencing similar feelings, but weren’t sure exactly what to do. Social media has given them a platform to become activists, something that they might not have otherwise felt they had the ability to do. In an age where everyone seems to be glued to social media, presenting actionable information and education through Instagram can be particularly effective.

Since launching in January 2016, The Pink Protest has worked with a wide variety of people to create content, host meetings and highlight a variety of movements - big and small - to an engaged audience on social media.

The #freeperiods movement is a great example of how social media can be used to inspire a real life movement and invoke change. The campaign resulted in a protest of hundreds of people marching outside Downing Street, demanding change to the ongoing crisis of period poverty. The goal has been to get the government to provide free sanitary products for all girls with free school meals in the UK. Thanks to the #freeperiods campaign, and the brilliant work of Scarlett along with the many other women now behind The Pink Protest, the issue is now sitting in front of the UK government. If that’s not proof of the power of social media in storytelling, and for building a movement, then I’m not sure what is!

We share the same belief in the power of storytelling at Away. Our (female) co-founders, Jen Rubio and Steph Korey, started the company as one that would do more than just sell luggage, but that would share perspectives and stories from people around the world so that we could all have a better understanding of cultures different than our own. This International Women’s Day, we’ll be using our social platforms to highlight incredible women who are working to build peace in areas of conflict alongside our nonprofit partner, Peace Direct.

Your action doesn’t need to be limited to social media. Understand that it’s an available (and incredibly powerful) platform, but consider what your unique strengths are and how you might be able to leverage them to further support the causes you care about. Anyone can take action in their own small way.