For the first time ever, HEART recently allowed students to take over their social media for an entire day. The students wrote a blog, Facebook posts, and Twitter tweets regarding an issue that concerned them. This social media campaign was a culminating project for their Human Rights course, an elective they participated in last spring. The students attend Collegio San Carlo in Milan, Italy, a high school that has partnered with HEART over the last several years, and the focus of this follow-up session was for the students to learn about youth activism and service. Part of the program included hearing from youth who have participated in the HEART program in Chicago and volunteer for HEART in New York. After hearing from these youth about why and how they have been involved in making a difference, it was the Collegio San Carlo students’ turn to get involved. They were tasked with completing a service project about an issue that mattered to them, one that they would thoroughly research in order to create an educational social media campaign for their peers and the general public. They were challenged to unanimously agree on a human rights issue, and although they considered a number of relevant problems, the students ultimately decided upon the topic of gender inequality in pay. The reason they chose this topic was because, of all the issues they considered, the difference in pay between men and women was a topic that many of them were not familiar with. It really shocked them that this was even still an issue affecting women today.
The students spent a lot of time preparing for the campaign by researching the topic and thinking about how to turn the information they gathered into a social media campaign. They were also tasked with promoting the campaign, which launched on December 10, International Human Rights Day. Throughout the entire school day, the students posted and Tweeted every 30 minutes, and their blog was promoted all day, as well. Some examples of their posts include:
It is well known that, among full-time workers, women earn an average of 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. This thinking is out of date, talking to both men and women. Support equal pay! #Inequalitydoesntpay Learn more at: Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey.
Even though the education gap between men and women is almost non-existent and the participation of women in the workforce has improved since 1970, the gender income gap still exists. Nowadays the rate at which the gap narrows is quite static. We must do something to reduce or eliminate this gap. #Inequalitydoesntpay
Additionally, a group of parents affiliated with the school joined the cause. They tabled at the school, promoting the campaign and providing students with hard copies of the blog.
At HEART, we were inspired by the dedication and enthusiasm these students demonstrated while working on this project. They really felt a responsibility to share the information they gathered, as well as their opinions on the issue, with as many people as possible. We know that one of the first steps in creating change is to inform people about an issue so that more people can get involved and do something to fix the problem. The students’ campaign was very successful, and, due to their efforts, more people are aware of the gender pay gap and can work towards a fair and equal society for all. The day following the campaign, the students’ teacher, Virginia Dodi, said, “[I]t was fantastic! We had a lot of people log on…They are still promoting the campaign today.”
On behalf of HEART, we want to give a huge thank you to Virginia Dodi and all the students at Collegio San Carlo who participated in and supported this human rights campaign!
Photo Credit: Mike Licht/Flickr