I recently read an interesting article discussing the demographics of facebook users across the world. To my surprise (and delight) the article stated that ‘women rule social networks’ with 64% of Twitter users, 58% of facebook users and 57% of Myspace users being female. A women ruled Facebook! DJ please, a request! Beyonce- Girls Run the World!
But looking closer at this study, we can see that the claim that ‘women rule social networks’ is nearly as questionable as the lyrics of that song…. do girls really run the world and do they really run social networks?
The internet has changed the face of activism. Blogs, online petitions, e-campaigns and e-activist social networking tools have overtaken the use of traditional lobbying tools such as letters, petitions, posters and placards. Many NGOs use e-activist programmes and social networks to create awareness of issues, run campaigns, call supporters and decision makers to action and share information, news and updates. However, when we consider campaigns and advocacy efforts that focus on youth issues, Gender Equality and Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health, how sure can we be that the voices of young women and girls from across the world are being heard, and that the messages are reaching them?
The social networking site facebook is used by many NGOs, networks and groups to raise awareness and promote campaigns. But when breaking down the demographics of facebook users,
the share of active users are ruled by North America and Europe (in total 60% of total users) with the remaining share of users (40%) being from Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Oceania, Central America, the Caribbean and Asia. 
Breaking down the demographics further, female facebook users dominate in the US, Europe and other regions, but not in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. In fact in the Middle East and North Africa in 2010, only 35% of facebook users were female.
Facebook over the past year has been the platform for many youth movements including the young people involved in the Arab Spring. The number of young users of facebook is rising every day, with the largest growth in Asia.
As NGOs, campaigners, activists and young people, we need to ensure that the voices of young women and girls from all parts of the world are heard. We want to hear from you on Conversations for a Better World :
- How effective do you think Gender Equality and SRRH campaigns are through social network platforms?
- What are the main barriers for girls and young women in your country or region to being part of social network activism?
- How you would improve the inclusion of the voice of young women and girls in these campaigns?
 http://www.frogloop.com/care2blog/2011/6/25/women-rule-social-networks.html (accessed 01/07/2011)
 http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/07/facebook-reaches-half-a-billion.html (accessed 01/07/2011)
Mari-Claire Price is the Executive Coordinator of the European Youth SRHR Network, YouAct. Prior to becoming Coordinator of YouAct, Mari-Claire was a member of the organisation for 2 years and on the Steering Committee. Mari-Claire has also worked for the UK Family Planning Association developing and delivering a sexual health programme for homeless young people in London, as the Youth Coordinator for a project focusing on Female Genital Mutilation in the UK with FORWARD UK .Mari-Claire has a degree in Developing World Studies where she focused on Gender and Development and also studied a minor in Women in Islam. She has also worked Vietnam and Croatia with Street and Trafficked Children.