Using social media to raise awareness of women's resources

An Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)-backed paper, 'Empowering women facing gender-based violence amid COVID-19 through media campaigns,' was published in 'Nature Human Behavior.'

Researchers partnered with the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights (ECWR) in Cairo to evaluate the centre's 'You are not alone' media campaign, which was disseminated across social media platforms Facebook and WhatsApp to a set of 5,618 women in Egypt between July and September 2020. The women were divided into four groups that were supplied different messaging on the social media channels regarding resources to stop domestic violence and links to ECWR-produced television shows on the topic.

The study found WhatsApp to be a useful tool for increasing engagement with the television shows and spreading awareness about domestic violence resources.

The paper was authored by Fotini Christia, the Ford International professor for social sciences in MIT's department of political science and the director of the MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center (SSRC); Horacio Larreguy, associate professor of economics and political science at the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico; Elizabeth Parker-Magyar, a PhD candidate in MIT's department of political science; and Manuel Quintero, a PhD student in MIT's doctoral program in social and engineering systems.

The study included a follow-up survey of 4,165 women from September to October 2020. The survey indicated that despite knowledge of resources and watching the television shows did not change long-standing beliefs about gender equality, though Horacio Larreguy noted, "We were encouraged that we did see an increase in terms of women's knowledge of resources they could access, and not only on our partner's organization and hotline, but instead an increase in information-seeking behaviour."

Christia is working to expand this type of research through additional experiments, stating, "We want to keep looking at these types of questions about gender equity, gender inclusion, and gender-based violence."

MIT News