The unsung heroines of #March4Justice
Despite protestations to the contrary by mainstream media and the Liberal government, Twitter is a force for good.
When word of a now infamous tweet spread, asking whether women could circle Parliament in protest at the misogyny and rape allegations emanating from the Liberal Government, hundreds of female volunteers from around Australia rallied to the call.
Within days women from all walks of life and from all corners of the country came together as one – to organise, build and promote Australia’s biggest female-led protest Australia has seen in decades.
These unsung heroines swung into action from March 1st and didn’t stop until March 15th came around.
In a mere fortnight, the volunteer women pulled off a history making event. A project like this would normally take at least 6 months of work. Many of the volunteers were activists, many were not, some had never been to a protest before in their lives, several were themselves survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence, many were triggered by the memories the Brittany Higgins and the alleged Christian Porter rape horror story brought up, but they were all prepared to go to great lengths to ensure March4Justice was the success it was.
Their efforts paid off because by March 15th the phrase and hashtag #March4Justice had imprinted itself firmly on the nation’s psyche. Approximately 100,000 Australians marched for justice across 2 days – Sunday 14th (in Perth and Cairns) and Monday 15th March elsewhere around Australia – with the message being spread throughout the land that “enough is enough.” History was made on the Ides of March (15th March) in Canberra, and around 50 other locations around the nation.
At the centre of the national volunteer team were the women behind the social media. A group of amazing professional women worked around the clock to spread the message of March4Justice. Without them who would have known that this massive event was being organised?
Within 2 weeks they had built a following across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat of well over 65k across the various platforms, with a reach of 460k on FB alone.
I headed up the social media team. I consider myself a passionate human rights activist, and when I was invited to lead the social media team, I was only too happy to use my marketing skills and experience to do so. I put my small business (www.templesandmarkets.com.au) on hold and my other activist work (Reclaim the News) on hold and worked an average of 18-hour days for 2 weeks. My objective was to get as many people as possible from around the country to the protests, and if they couldn’t attend, to encourage them to support the movement. The social media team created and encouraged engagement across all social media platforms and answered an endless stream of follower and media messages that were coming through the Facebook page in particular.
My gratitude and admiration runs deep for the women I worked alongside with on the social team. We all gave up time with our families and our paid work and other responsibilities for the March4Justice cause. What a ride we all went on. The team, none of whom knew each other before M4J, will remain lifelong friends. We all faced daily trolling including unwarranted and cruel accusations of racism and transphobia, as well as being faced with tragic victim and survivor stories that were coming through to us on social media message platforms. None of us are counsellors so inevitably this took a heavy toll on our own wellbeing.
Judith’s Whyimarch video:
Claudia Zappia may be a familiar name for many. Sydney based actor, singer, dancer Claudia was one of the very first volunteers to put her hand up for content creation and social media management too. Claudia lives with chronic illness – EDS, a connective tissue disorder autoimmune disease and she is also a mentor for other EDS sufferers from around the world.
Claudia rallied a team of incredible creatives like herself to build up an Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat following for the movement. She live-streamed the march to followers from Canberra.
Her health has deteriorated since giving up time for the movement, but she is so proud of what she and the other volunteers achieved.
Claudia’s Whyimarch video:
Marcella Brassett was the campaign lead for March4Justice. Marcella has 15 years of professional experience in activist campaigns. She works for Australia’s largest independent not for profit who support and empower people seeking asylum and refugees. Marcella was at the forefront of the nationwide campaign. She wrote the campaign strategy and communications plan and the hashtags #march4justice and #whyimarch were ideas that came from her. The hashtag #march4justice is likely to be used for many years to come by Australians standing up for good and is destined to have its own chapter in future history books.
Bridie McLennan, herself a survivor, knew she wouldn’t be able to attend a march due to heath reasons, but was determined to contribute in other ways. And that she did, in spades.
Like me, Bridie also put her business (www.emergencybk.com.au) on hold and threw herself into the cause. She realised that if events were to be organised in multiple locations, they would likely be done through Facebook Groups and Events. Off her own back Bridie created the Twitter account @WomensMarchAus (now @WomensEventAus), sent out her first tweet and it took off from there.
Bridie created and frequently updated a Google spreadsheet that could be accessed and shared anywhere, with details of all 50 events, including links to more info. She sourced the information through hunting through FB Event pages, FB Groups, websites, contacting organisations, tips from followers, contacting MP’s State and Federal and more. She also answered thousands of questions from Followers, helped 30+ regional organisers with checklists and info on event accessibility, where to find additional info, linked up regional teams with each other so they could share resources and knowledge, tweeted info about what people not able to march could do and much more. The spreadsheet was used/posted by multiple non-official march Facebook groups to help their followers find events near them and multiple media outlets, journalists and politicians as a source for information – including a retweet by the ABC’s Laura Tingle
Bridie says; “I’m so proud of the work accomplished in record breaking time, by amazing women and allies, organising 50+ events across the country. The people behind the scenes, like myself and others running social media (Twitter, FB, Instagram, TikTok etc) who put our lives on hold and were central to ensuring attendees, media and politicians, had access to accurate and up to date info, critical to the success of the marches and how many ended up attending.”
Bridie had direct contact with many regional event organisers across the country. For example:
Talbot, Victoria – Organiser Fiona Somerville. Bridie tracked Fiona down through joining Talbot Community Group, and messaging admins of that group that she had heard someone might be organising an event.
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Don’t ever give up. We’re with you all the way.
Thank you Michael
I am a believer in the need for an organised approach to break the male stranglehold on society. The thoroughly organised men only institutions are supported by millions of women who have not yet accessed the phone power but they will.
Green, white and purple makes a great flag.
Keep the anger simmering and as election time starts to loom let it loose.
Live in hope …. and prepare for the 2021 early Federal elections …..
There is no tomorrow, there is only today.
“For now is the only time there may be”
I can’t remember wher that comes from, but it works.
I could not march but I sure admired. I look forward to the next M4J, bigger is better. Building up to a stop the nation strike.
The avatar-Prime Minister is far too complacent.
His narcissism is ruling the nation, and not for our good.