Jahnvi Gandhi- 2030143

The Media and Communication wing of the Centre for Social Action (CSA) continued their drive to create awareness and sensitization among people towards various issues through yet another successful Webinar conducted on Tuesday, 30th September 2020 on the topic of Social Media Activism. The hour-long session was in collaboration with Reachout India and was graced by the presence of their various representatives. The CSA volunteers talked with the attendees about casual topics for some necessary ice-breaking before the event officially began. The event began at 5:35 with excitement and great enthusiasm by both the attendees and the hosts. The event was kicked off by Kishnika Dhawan, a CSA volunteer, by a quote from Master Shifu of Kung Fu Panda.  Reachout India, a Pune based organisation that was set up in 2015, is a not-for-profit youth-run organisation that aims at bringing social transformation through a strategic initiative with a focus on capacity building. Four of their team members, including co-founders Manasa Rao and Shishira Johny and members Rhea Purohit and Sanghamitra, graced the event with their presence.

 Sanghamitra started by talking about how it’s so easy to fit your perspective into a 1×1 box to influence others and how social media is a boon for many underrepresented groups. Giving us various examples, ranging from personal anecdotes to the Manisha Valmiki rape case, Sanghamitra brought to light how many of us are using borrowed perspectives and not talking about the real issues. She talked about how every piece of work from art to music is resistance and how we are led to believe that we need to have a platform to do meaningful work when that’s not true: we can do anything we want to on any platform we like if we want to shed light on important issues. Shishira took over then and talked in brief about how social media helps identify stakeholders, mobilize resources and how you can conduct and implement campaigns through social media.

 Manasa spoke of the Adhoc drive they conducted under their women’s health and employment project. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic many women didn’t have access to basic menstrual hygiene products. Deeply affected and concerned by this, Reachout started with a very basic social media post which was a fundraiser, to help the women in need. They quickly identified stakeholders and mobilized resources and reached out to over 20,000 women by identifying target groups-partners corporates, NGOs, etc- through social media for this COVID-19 response and recovery project.

Next, we had Sanghamitra tell us about the  ‘Reach out and beyond’ platform where they publish well researched information and articles in collaboration with like-minded organisations and individuals. She stressed on the need to collaborate to build consciousness and later to build a community and gain more perspective on the issue, amplification and reaching out.

Shishira then spoke about project Rise, focussing on children’s education that was started five years ago, wherein they found volunteers in Pune through social media. They developed curriculums and taught English and personality development after the school hours to government school students.

Rhea Purohit summed up the session by talking about the devadasi project based in Raichur wherein they went on the field to understand their way of living, their problems and to assess the help provided by the government. Benefits of this research affected around 40,000 women positively, all the while building awareness and sensitising people. She then advised everyone that while developing a social media activism base, we must remember that there is no fixed formula or one size fits all logic. We have to just ask ourselves these three questions- who is the target audience? What kind of engagement are you looking for? How do you want to have the target audience engage with you?

The webinar main session ended by 6:17 pm followed by a question and answer session, which turned out to be very interactive and productive. Attendees asked a lot of hitting questions on a plethora of topics which the Reachout team answered beautifully making it a very insightful and fun session.

The main takeaway for everyone was to make sure they use their voices to enable other voices to be heard, remember that their platform could be anything and that the power of the collective should never be underestimated. We need to try and modify social media to our advantage and be an active and informed activist.

The session came to an end with Nikhil Nema giving out the vote of thanks followed by a feedback session. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and very encouraging for both the hosts and the attendees with everyone appreciating Reachout India for their participation. All in all, it was a very successful and informative session and one more win for the CSA Media and Communication wing for their great organisation and hard work.

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