Preferences help
enabled [disable] Abstract
Number of results
2016 | 60 | 40-50
Article title

Can Social Media Set the Agenda in Addressing Violence Against Women?

Title variants
Languages of publication
Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw in “The Agenda-Setting Function of the Media” (1972) claimed that the power of the media to set a nation’s agenda, to focus public attention on key public concerns, including gender issues, is highly significant. This implies that the media can influence what the public think about. However, the statement is, to a large extent, in reference to the traditional or mainstream media. We live in a digital age. What about the new media or social media? Can social media platforms (SMPs) such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook be used to set the agenda for change in contemporary society? Can SMPs be used to focus the attention of the public on gender issues, particularly on how to address sexual and other forms of violence against women? Can these platforms engender social change or they are just tools for leisure or entertainment? Employing descriptive and observational methods this article investigates three social media campaigns on Twitter and Facebook – He For She, Bring Back Our Girls and My Dress My Choice - with a view to assessing their capacity to set the public’s agenda towards combating sexual violence against women and whether social media is an effective tool to create awareness on what is at issue. While we argue that the social media is an acknowledged change agent which is capable of mobilizing the public to stand up against incidents of sexual violence, among other gender issues, the conclusion reached is that in the three instances we examined, the momentum is often short-lived.
Physical description
  • Department of Theatre and Media Arts, Faculty of Arts, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, Nigeria
  • [1] Abdelrahman Ali, M, and Eni Maryani, The Revolutionary Role of the New Media: The Arab Spring Experience, Simposiu Kebudayaan Indonesia – Malaysia (SKIM XIII), Jantinangor, 2013.
  • [2] About He For She on He For She, 2014. Available at:
  • [3] Alison, Miranda, Women as Agents of Political Violence: Gendering Security, Sage Publications. Security Dialogue, Vol. 35, No. 4, 2004, pp. 447-463.
  • [4] Bring Back Our Girls, Topsy Labs Inc., Available at:
  • [5] Chandler, Adam, ‘Nigeria's Violent Year Since 'Bring Back Our Girls'’, The Atlantic, 4 April 2015. Available at:
  • [6] Charles Amone, Armed Conflicts and Violence against Women in Northern Uganda, 1986 to 2014. The Indian Journal of Research - PARIPEX, Vol. 3, Issue 5, May 2014, pp. 121-122.
  • [7] Cohen, Dara Kay, Green, Amelia Hoover, Wood, Elisabeth Jean, Wartime Sexual Violence: Misconceptions, Implications, and Ways Forward, The United States Institute of Peace, Special Report 323, February 2013.
  • [8] Cohen, Heidi, Social Media Definitions, May 2011. Available at:
  • [9] Cuddihy, Martin, ‘Kenyans march against vicious attacks on women in miniskirts’, ABC News Net, 18 Nov 2014. Available at:
  • [10] Dewing, Michael. Social Media: An Introduction (In Brief), Library of Parliament Ottawa, Canada, Publication No. 2010-03-E, 2012.
  • [11] Edosomwan, Simeon et al., The History of Social Media and its Impacts on Business, The Journal of Applied Mathematics and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 16, No. 16, 2011.
  • [12] Ehiemua, Kingsley I. and Omoera, Osakue S. Social Media Platforms of Reality Drama: A Study of Selected Facebook Accounts. Journal of African Media Studies, Vol. 7 No. 2, 2015, pp. 185-201.
  • [13] Groshek, Jacob and Groshek, Megan Clough, Agenda Trending: Reciprocity and the Predictive Capacity of Social Networking Sites in Intermedia Agenda Setting across Topics over Time. Media and Communication, Vol. 1, Issue 1, 2013, pp. 15-27
  • [14] He For She on Know your meme, Sept. 20, 2014. Available at:
  • [15] He For She, Topsy Labs Inc., Available at:
  • [16] Higgins, Michael and Smith, Angela, Disaffiliation and Belonging: Twitter and Its Agnostic Publics. Sociologia e Politiche Sociali, Vol. 17, February 2014, pp. 77-89.
  • [17] Howard, Philip N, The Arab Spring's Cascading Effects, Miller-McCune - Smart Journalism, Real Solutions, 23 Feb. 2011, Available at:>.
  • [18] Keller, David R., Deconstruction: Fad or Philosophy?, Humanitas, Vol. XIV, No. 2, 2001, pp. 58-74
  • [19] Kimura, Maki. Listening To Voices: Testimonies of ‘Comfort Women’ of The Second World War, The Gender Institute, The Net Working Paper Series, Issue 8, April 2003.
  • [20] Koplowitz, Howard. Kenya Miniskirt Protest: My Dress, My Choice Supporters Show Support For Woman Beaten By Men over 'Indecent' Outfit, The International Business Times, 26 May 2015. Available at:
  • [21] Macnamara, Jim. Which media set the news agenda: Mass media or/and social media? iSentia, 2011.
  • [22] McCombs Maxwell, Shaw Donald L., The Agenda-Setting Function of the Media, Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 36, 1972, pp. 176-187
  • [23] Moi, Tori. I am not a woman writer, Feminist Theory, Sage Publications, Vol. 9, No. 3, 2008, pp. 259-271.
  • [24] My Dress My Choice, Topsy Labs Inc., Available at:
  • [25] Nagarajan, Chitra. #Bringbackourgirls hasn’t brought back Chibok’s girls, but it has changed Nigeria’s politics, The Guardian, 14 April 2015. Available at:
  • [26] Nyabola, Nanjala, Kenya: My dress my choice, New African magazine, 21 January 2015. Available at:
  • [27] Ogbeche, Danielle. Kano indigene allegedly abducts, forcefully marries 13-year-old girl from Bayelsa. 19 February 2016. Available at
  • [28]
  • [29] Ogene, Ashionye. Abandonment of 'Bring Back Our Girls, Aljazeera, 14 Oct 2014. Available at:
  • [30] Okhakhu, Marcel A. and Omoera, Osakue S., The Media as Driver of Development: Reflections on the Edo State, Nigeria Experience, International Journal of Film, Literary and Media Studies, Vol. 5 No. 1, 2010, pp. 12-22.
  • [31] Oxford English Dictionary: The Definitive Record of the English Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
  • [32] Shaw, Eugene F., Agenda-Setting and Mass Communication Theory. The International Communication Gazette, 1979, pp. 96-105, Available at:
  • [33] Shepherd, Laura J., Women, Armed Conflict and language – Gender, Violence and Discourse, The International Review of The Red Cross, Vol. 92, No. 877, March 2010, pp. 143-159.
  • [34] Social Aware. A Short History of Social Media, Morrison & Foerster LLP, 2011, Available at:
  • [35] Taylor, Adam. Is #BringBackOurGirls helping?, The Washington Post, May 6, 2014. Available at:
  • [36] The Telegraph View. Bring back our girls' and Boko Haram: a campaign in vain’, The Telegraph, 14 Jul 2014. Available at:
  • [37] Xu, Tina. The Arab Spring, Social Media, and Human Rights, Amnesty International, USA, 2012, Available at:
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.