Launched more than a decade ago as picture sharing became popular in other apps, Instagram has come a long way from its first days of artsy snaps. The app grew exponentially, first fuelled by the selfie craze and after by the company’s savvy strategy of working with brands and influencers. Boasting 2.35 billion monthly active users, Instagram is one of three giants of social media, alongside Facebook and Twitter.
Instagram allows users to easily create powerful visual publications and has thus become an important tool for advocacy, raising awareness and sharing information. Activists no longer need costly production work to create impactful content and many use it to report on their daily work, spread striking data with effective visuals or make the most of the creative freedom it allows by constantly reinventing the way content is shared.
Despite legitimate concerns around its impact on mental health, especially of young women and girls, Instagram has proven a powerful tool for story-telling and campaigning, as demonstrated by the Black Lives Matter movement in the US and the #ChallengeAccepted campaign, first used by Turkish women to protest against femicides and later to empower women globally.
With this in mind, The Pixel Project presents our inaugural selection of 16 organisations and activists using Instagram in service of the cause to end violence against women. These are organisations from different countries and people with very different backgrounds, using Instagram across the world in very different ways, but sharing a common vision of a world where women and girls can live free of all forms of violence.
Introduction by Bernardo Rodrigues, written and compiled by Bernardo Rodrigues.
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Instagram Follow Recommendation 1: Catcalls of UWI – The West Indies
Catcalls of UWI is a project to end street harassment and GBV at University of the West Indies. A project of IGNITE!, a youth led social justice undergraduate student group of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, their Instagram account showcases all the creativity and activism of this collective: from powerful sidewalk chalk messages to local events and information for students and staff dealing with sexual harassment and gender-based violence.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 2: Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women – United States of America
The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women is a member-driven organisation tackling violence against Native women and children in New Mexico. Their Instagram account, currently counting close to 10k followers, aims to give a strong voice to Native women in advocating for an end to violence. It also shares information about their events about violence against Native women across the USA.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 3: End FGM European Network – Europe
The End FGM European Network is an umbrella network of 39 European organisations based in 16 European countries. It works for more European action to ending female genital mutilation, in Europe and worldwide, by connecting grassroots communities with non-government organisations. The network uses their Instagram account to advocate among EU policymakers and stakeholders, as well as raise awareness among the public at large.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 4: Glitch – United Kingdom
Glitch is an award-winning UK charity working to end online abuse and championing digital citizenship, with a particular focus on Black women and marginalised people. Their Instagram account is a great way to follow their advocacy towards ending online abuse. The account is also bursting with information about their other activities, including trainings, research, workshops and community building.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 5: Interval House – Canada
Interval House is Canada’s first centre for women survivors of intimate partner violence and their children. Founded 50 years ago by a feminist collective, it takes a holistic approach to helping women and children leave abuse behind and start new lives, free of violence. This pioneering collective’s Instagram account is carefully curated with information about safe exit routes from violence and coverage of their local activities in Toronto, while also speaking up for survivors’ rights and calling for an end to gender-based violence.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 6: Nadia’s Initiative – Syria and the United States of America
Nadia’s Initiative was founded by Nadia Murad, a leading advocate for survivors of genocide and sexual violence and a recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. Having escaped captivity from ISIS after they attacked her homeland in Sinjar with the goal of ethnically cleansing all Yazidis from Iraq, Nadia began speaking out on behalf of her community and of survivors of sexual violence worldwide. The Nadia’s Initiative Instagram account showcases their work of rebuilding communities in crisis and advocating for survivors of sexual violence to over 33k followers.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 7: Safe Hands For Girls – Gambia, Sierra Leone, and the United States of America
Founded in 2013 by Jaha Dukureh, a young Gambian woman, Safe Hands for Girls works in The Gambia, Sierra Leone and the U.S. to fighting FGM and child marriage. This women-led organisation uses its Instagram account to highlight their everyday work helping women and girls that have gone through FGM, or are at risk of going through the practice, while also putting the spotlight on their advocacy work.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 8: Samburu Girls Foundation – Kenya
Samburu Girls Foundation (SGF) is a Kenyan non-profit working to rescue girls from child-marriage, beading and FGM, and then helping them go back to school and to being children again. Founder Josephine Kulea began rescuing girls from her own family and community. The foundation now acts across 4 counties in Kenya. SGF’s Instagram is an inspiring window into the work of the foundation, also covering other aspects like selfcare, menstrual health and capacity building.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 9: Sonita Alizadeh – Afghanistan
Sonita Alizadeh is an Afghan rapper and activist who uses music to help end child marriage. Sonita was sold to forced marriage by her parents at age 10 and again at 16. She was already working on music by then and had gained notoriety for her song “Daughters for Sale”. This allowed her to work with other artists to make a video and a documentary about her song, which she used to escape having to marry. With over 51k followers, Sonita shares some of her music in her Instagram account but mostly her outrage and fight for the end of child marriage.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 10: Stop the Cut 2030 – Nigeria
An initiative of the WAVE Foundation, Stop the Cut 2030 is a Nigerian youth-led movement fighting against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) with initiatives in health, education and community service. Through their Instagram account, Stop the Cut 2030 cover their daily work, their many campaigns and local actions and share useful resources from their online events.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 11: The Girl Generation – Africa
The Girl Generation seeks to quicken positive changes in social attitudes toward ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), within a broader vision of a world where girls and women can exercise their power and rights, have expanded choice and agency, and be free from all forms of violence. This consortium of local and global non-governmental organisations and academia uses their Instagram account to raise awareness to their activities and as a powerful tool to accelerate the reduction in the practice of FGM in Kenya, Senegal, Somaliland and Ethiopia by the end of 2025.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 12: The NO MORE Foundation – Worldwide
The No More Foundation is a global coalition dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault by increasing awareness, inspiring action and fuelling culture change. NO MORE was created as a unifying symbol, much like breast cancer awareness pink ribbon or the HIV/AIDS awareness red ribbon, in order to help increase the visibility of the problems of domestic violence and sexual assault. Currently followed by over 38k people, their inspiring Instagram account offers facts, calls to action and testimonies that inform and empower.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 13: The Pixel Project – Worldwide
The Pixel Project is a completely virtual, volunteer-led global non-profit organisation working to end violence against women. It specialises in online campaigns at the intersection of social media, new technologies, and the Arts/pop culture, created as platforms and vehicles for specific communities to participate in efforts to end violence against women. The Pixel Project’s Instagram account offers an overview of the organisation’s campaigns and activities, with particular focus on their annual People and Pets Say NO! campaign for Domestic Violence Awareness Month and their Read For Pixels campaign featuring award-winning bestselling authors speaking up about violence against women.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 14: UN Women – Worldwide
UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. This global champion for women and girls supports UN member states as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to accelerate progress on meeting women’s needs worldwide. Their Instagram account has 2 million followers and is packed with inspiring stories and quotes from women and girls across the world, reflecting their comprehensive look at all aspects impacting the empowerment of women and girls.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 15: Women For Change – South Africa
Women for Change is a non-profit organisation that educates, advocates and campaigns daily on Gender-Based Violence & Femicide, Human Rights and Gender Equality. Using powerful memorials, facts and visuals to an audience of close to 67k followers, their Instagram account tracks and boosts their work for the protection of the constitutional rights of women and children in South Africa.
Instagram Follow Recommendation 16: Women’s Refuge New Zealand – New Zealand
Women’s Refuge NZ is New-Zealand’s largest nation-wide organisation that supports and helps women and children experiencing family violence. They have support services designed especially for children, young people, Māori women, Pasifika women and migrant and refugee women. Their Instagram account is a valuable source of practical and legal information for women and children in need which they combine with empowering messages and calls for support to their local activities.