Women's rights activism has a long and rich history of marches, demonstrations, and more. Now, the nonprofit Girls Who Code is taking this activism to a completely new level — by organizing the first all-digital March For Sisterhood on Oct. 11. In order to bridge the barriers to access often created by physical protests and marches, these March for Sisterhood activists are bringing their causes to your computer screen with this digital march.
Oct. 11 is the International Day of the Girl, and this first annual digital March For Sisterhood is in honor of that. In partnership with Refinery29 and TikTok, Girls Who Code has invited people across the globe to participate in the March For Sisterhood by sharing videos of themselves marching for causes that are important to them. Participating in the march is fairly simple — all you need is a social media account, so you can share photos or videos of yourself marching or raising awareness about a cause that matters to you. Refinery29 will serve as an official platform for the photos and videos, as will TikTok. Simply share your footage on social media under the hashtag #MarchForSisterhood to get involved. TikTok already launched a branded #MarchForSisterhood challenge on Oct. 4, and is still accepting submissions.
This march is for girls, but it's by girls too, per the Girls Who Code website. The event was organized in part by 100 young activists and community organizers — known as Team Sisterhood — who focus on issues ranging from reproductive justice and immigration to climate justice and inclusion in the tech industry.
For organizer Gabby Frost, a 21-year-old senior at Drexel University and the founder of mental health awareness nonprofit Buddy Project, the March For Sisterhood's exclusively digital nature makes it a more accessible way for people around the world to participate and highlight a variety of issues.
"A lot of marches in person aren’t accessible to disabled people, and this gives a way for people who are disabled to have an accessible way to march," Frost tells Elite Daily. She notes that issues like mental illness, disability, bias and discrimination, or safety concerns can prevent people from being able to march physically. "I think that having [the march] be something you just need technology to access is really important because there can be more representation, of a ton of different groups."
Those who tell stories are the gatekeepers of their ideas.
And that's precisely what Girls Who Code hopes to achieve with Friday's digital march. The March For Sisterhood aims to highlight a wide range of issues and marginalized voices in order to create a more inclusive event. In addition to mental health, the march will welcome activists interested in key issues like immigration, climate change, reproductive justice, or any other issue that marchers want to raise awareness on. Organizer Sara Mora, a 23-year-old immigrant rights activist who is also part of Team Sisterhood, tells Elite Daily that the digital and global nature of the march is a way for girls and women around the world to build community around the causes they care about.
"The biggest goal is definitely to create a community and to really spark up a conversation about what sisterhood means within a global context," Mora says. "When we’re able to see if this is effective," she adds, activists may be able to translate that online community into real-life actions or into additional solidarity-building online.
Mora, an undocumented immigrant, became an immigrant rights activist out of necessity. As she grew older, however, she became more intentional in her work around immigration, and realized how powerful a tool social media can be.
"I began to fall in love with this idea of helping restore or reclaim the narrative of our community using social media, since it was a free microphone not fully controlled by anyone else," Mora explains. "Those who tell stories are the gatekeepers of their ideas."
I would want people to walk away today with a list of things they’re willing to actually do to change.
After all, the stories activists share through the March For Sisterhood are as personal as they are global. Jade Edwards, 23, is using her opportunity with Team Sisterhood and the march to highlight the contributions and representation of black women like her in STEM fields. Edwards, a senior at the historically black Tuskegee University, participated in Girls Who Code's summer immersion program back in 2014, and has since served as an instructor for that same program. Edwards didn't always think there was a place for black women in tech, but now she wants to "be that representation for the black girls that we had gotten in our summer immersion program" at the digital march.
"I would want people to walk away today with a list of things they’re willing to actually do to change all the things we’re bringing awareness to," Edwards says. She speaks proudly of her own achievements as an example. "Speaking for myself, I’m changing it — I recently brought a Girls Who Code club to my university, and I’m teaching [computer science] and [non-computer science] students how to code. So that’s how I’m bringing more representation into technology — by teaching girls on my HBCU campus how to code."
Frost says that she will be marching for mental health awareness and empathy — but also for intersectionality. According to Frost, the March For Sisterhood will be an opportunity to showcase the connections between issues activists already care about. "We need to care about mental health all the time," Frost says. "So many things intersect with mental health. Everything really comes back to it because everything affects our mental health in some way."
If you’re an activist or advocate or just really care about social causes, you need to make sure you talk about a variety of them.
On top of highlighting mental health and her advocacy around it, Frost says she also intends to share the causes that other activists are championing during the March For Sisterhood. As the day goes on, Frost says that she and other members of Team Sisterhood plan to share these stories from around the world to amplify causes that don't always get mainstream attention. She thinks that it's extremely important for allies to assume additional responsibility in fighting for various causes, because youth activists have been leading the charge for a long time — and not always with sufficient support.
"If you’re an activist or advocate or just really care about social causes, you need to make sure you talk about a variety of them — and not just the mainstream ones — because there are a lot of causes that don’t have enough support out there," Frost says.
In Frost's view, this march is also partly about pushing back on the idea that activism is "optional" or that you should only get involved in things that affect you directly, or that you already know a lot about. That's why the march is open to all issues. "All of these causes will affect everyone in some type of way," she says. "In order to be an empathetic and change-making individual, you have to care about the things that don’t directly affect you." Edwards echoes this, noting that it is extremely impactful when people are "not afraid to speak out and say when something’s wrong, say when something needs to be changed."
Team Sisterhood is equally focused on amplifying and uplifting the voices of activists who don't already have a sizable platform. From indigenous activists addressing the climate crisis to immigrants' rights advocates who have been fighting for justice on the U.S.-Mexico border, the young people behind the March For Sisterhood are trying to address a wide range of causes — by meeting their fellow activists where they are, and not where they can't be.
"I think it’s a privilege to be able to protest out loud, in the street, and not get retaliation," Mora says, "so I think this digital march gives an opportunity for young women and young girls across the world to really be a part of something."