Diverse Voices second debate, August 2012
Can social media break taboos? Does the law protect the weak and poor?
Experience reported by the BBC about Weibo – China’s Twitter – suggests that it’s “ability to connect people has been used by campaigns to help street children, boycott polluting companies, even to ban the use of sharks' fins in soup.” Concerns about under reported issues and the failure of the law to protect the poor and weak in also came up in August when the Diverse Voices 2012 initiative brought together twenty-four people in small stakeholder groups in India, Bangladesh and the UK. desh and the UK, together with staff from the Institute of Development Studies, discussed common themes from issues prioritised by stakeholders.
The issues suggested were diverse but after prioritising them two questions emerged:
How can minority groups access and responsibly use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Mobiles, YouTube) to break taboos and highlight issues that the mainstream press and politics ignores? Underlying this question were experiences of:
- Receiving videos and pictures via social media and mobiles highlighting the massacre of Rohingyas
- Distribution of fake or hard to verify information over Youtube
- Mainstream media focusing on negative stories that sell
- Government under reporting the size of certain groups (e.g. Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) to delegitimize their demands - LGBT communities have been identified as non-existent in Bangladesh
How can we ensure that laws safeguarding the weak and poor (wages, health, housing, land, identity) get fully implemented and remove outdated laws and abuse of government powers that permit harassment of minority groups and human rights defenders?
- Lack of contracts meaning workers can’t challenge deduction of wages, non-compensation for accidents or death at work, or access social welfare
- Migratory life meaning children can’t join school and unions find it hard to organise workers
- Cases of accidents being reported and protested where children were severely injured at work but local people are put down and thus their voices remain unheard because of corrupt government officials
- Special schemes for ethnic minorities (e.g. Dalit and Tribal groups) not reaching them because of fear to raise their voices, lack of knowledge, government corruption and failure to audit delivery
From 28th August Diverse Voices 2012 becomes a global debate as people on Facebook and Twitter If you feel your voice has been excluded from global conversations and want to challenge agenda setting in the development sector here’s a new chance. Or if you believe you have relevant research or policy perspectives to share it’s time to engage on equal terms. Sparks will be struck, difference will be celebrated and new agendas will emerge.