National NOW Foundation Times >> Fall 2008  >> Article

NOW Foundation Brings Feminist Voices to the Web, Engages Women Online

By Liz Newbury, Internet Communications Coordinator

At the 2008 National Conference, NOW Foundation staff helped local leaders get online with one-on-one coaching.
Photo by Liz Newbury
At the 2008 National Conference, NOW Foundation staff helped local leaders get online with one-on-one coaching.

Women's rights activists are mobilizing online like never ever before. From social networking (like Love Your Body on Facebook) to Kim Gandy Twittering, NOW Foundation is cultivating feminist voices on the web.

The current "version" of the Internet is commonly referred to as Web 2.0, and it's all about being social. What separates this version from its predecessor is its focus on using web technology to connect people dynamically. Before, only a savvy few could create a website. Now, just about anyone can create an online presence without any programming skills.

But that's not all. Not only can everyone be online, but they can connect with others at the click of a mouse.

Through MySpace and Facebook, two popular networking sites, NOW and NOW Foundation are connecting with people where they are, educating them about the issues, and encouraging them to take action both online and offline. Once people are connected through these social networks, they can share pictures and videos, organize meetings, form friendships, and, yes, make their feminist voices heard.

We're also helping activists and chapters utilize these new tools. At the National Conference in July, staff members and interns organized an Internet Café for local leaders and attendees from around the country -- some with very little web experience -- and helped guide them in creating their own online presence on the spot!

Blogs are another useful tool. For many people, blogging goes beyond creating an online diary to connecting with the greater community or "blogosphere." A blog is an online self-publication, much like a journal, and is as simple as using a word processor. Simplicity is what makes blogs accessible, and the people who write them are what make them powerful. This blogging community could be described as grassroots journalism, working at the speed of broadband to research and bring to light the issues and opinions of the day or even the moment. Often the blogosphere cracks a story before traditional media outlets, and mainstream media are taking notice -- just one reason why we need more voices to join the online feminist dialogue.

Taking blogging to the next level, NOW and NOW Foundation President Kim Gandy can now be found on a micro-blogging site known as Twitter. A micro-blog entry is barely a sentence long, and its small size makes it flexible across different mediums -- including cell phones. It's true, now you can carry NOW and the Foundation in your pocket!

Go to Twitter to sign up and get Gandy's regular updates on your cell phone or PDA.

NOW is moving in Web 2.0, so check in regularly with our main website where you will find links to our online outreach efforts. And let your voice be heard!