Sadiah Meiselbach, Public Relations Officer at The Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung – an international development and advocacy organization and the brainchild behind the #PussyIsPower campaign spoke to WTO Reporter Roma Rajpal Weiss on how the women’s empowerment campaign in developing countries was conceived and went on to win accolades.
Tell me about PussyisPower!
PussyisPower is a Women’s Empowerment Campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to create awareness for women’s rights issues, especially in developing countries. The key is to break down abstract numbers such as “130 million girls are out of school” or “220 million women in developing countries don’t have access to contraceptives” to an individual level and show how this impacts the lives of those affected.
How did you come up with this hashtag? What inspired you?
Well, the hashtag was crucial to the campaign. “Engage the Future” was the first competition of its kind specifically for non-governmental organizations. Sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the goal was to develop an online campaign on human rights issues. Therefore, I was looking for a hashtag which is bold and stands out. The actual hashtag was inspired by the lyrics of a song by Tiggs da Author “You can call me pussy – Pussy is power”. To me this conveyed a very simple yet strong message – women are strong!
Taking a term such as “pussy” which on the one hand stands for a female body part and on the other hand is commonly used as an insult “oh, don’t be a pussy” and turning its meaning around – to me, it is brilliant. It is the same organ that brings new life into this world. Therefore, it is actually one the most powerful body parts of a human: Pussy is Power!
How are you going about the project?
In September, we flew to Nairobi, Kenya, for shooting our campaign with three German influencers. These videos have now been edited and played out via social media. The final event took place on the International Girls Day. We organized a Rage-Yoga-Session, the first of its kind in Germany, to create a public discourse on women’s rights issues.
As part of the 2017 Web Video Award, Europe’s largest Social Media Award, the campaign #PussyisPower won the ‘Engage The Future Award’.
What resonance has it had so far?
So far, we have had overwhelmingly positive reviews in Kenya as well as in Germany. Considering the rather provocative hashtag we would have assumed the debate to be more controversial but we were pleasantly surprised. Especially among young people in Germany, there is a strong interest in social and development issues.
What future plans do you have for this project?
We are certainly hoping to continue the hashtag and elevate it from a national to a global movement. #PussyisPower is meant to be synonymous for strong females that have overcome social issues and sexism. Therefore, we need to continue the debate.
What were the biggest hurdles when you started with the project?
The biggest challenge was definitely the portrayal of our projects in Kenya and the expectations of our German audience. We wanted to shed a different light on matters relating to humanitarian communication and create a conversation beyond the typical pity narrative.
Interview: Roma Rajpal Weiss
Editor: Marjory Linardy
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