The protests, demonstrations, revolutions and conflicts taking place throughout the Arab world, particularly in 2010 and 2011, have sparked widespread interest and debate in to the role of new media and political change.
The use of social networking sites and accessibility of smartphone technology has empowered many demonstrates and instigators of political change in the countries involved. Sites such as Twitter and Facebook have allowed citizens on location, experiencing violence first hand, to share what they have seen, heard and felt with the rest of the world.
In the above video Ayaan Hirsi Ali talks about women’s specific role within the demonstrations and the empowering use of blogging and social networking by women. Gender inequality within journalism has been a hot topic of media debate for many years, with the largest sample of data collected to support this idea being the 2010 Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) which studied women in broadcast and print news. The findings of this study were that, whilst improving, the role of women in news was still significantly below men, with significantly fewer female journalists than male. It was also found that men were twice as likely to be used as sources of quotes and would cover ‘hard’ news stories more frequently than women.
It seems that the women of the Arab Spring played an equally as significant role in the sharing of citizen journalism and in informing the world about the events that took place. Whilst they also played a vital role within the demonstrations themselves. The use of new social media has created a much more universally accessible platform for sharing stories and ideas and it would appear that the Arab Spring shows a clear example of women using new media to force themselves in to the news and the roles of journalists.