Globally, a staggering 85% of women have reported witnessing online violence, and nearly 40% have experienced it personally — and the problem is growing, as online use and online violence have Increased over the last two years. Women, girls, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ and other historically marginalized communities are the most likely to have their images abused online and subjected to demeaning non-consensual sexual acts. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) — the UN agency known for advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, but less well known for its work to eliminate gender-based violence online — wanted to do something about it. The agency sought to increase education and awareness of online violence and mobilize activism among Gen Z through a social campaign that would start during 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence (November 25 – December 10, 2021), an annual international campaign focused on gender-based violence.

In most societies, laws are designed to respect bodily autonomy and the fact that we are the sole owners of our bodies. But online, the opposite is true. The existence of digitally manipulated and exploitative images of women demonstrates that people do not experience bodily autonomy online.

Paradoxically, those who infringe copyright face legal penalties and swift removal of content by digital platforms, while survivors of online violence face barriers and have few legal rights.

The shocking reality: If women’s bodies were a corporate logo, or a piece of copyrighted IP, they would have more rights to protect themselves online than they currently do as a human being.

UNFPA decided to highlight this global problem with a simple yet novel idea. To push social platforms and content sharing sites to take the abusive use of female bodies as seriously as copyright infringements, together with UNFPA, we launched ⓑodyright, a new copyright for the human body.

STRATEGY & EXECUTION

Central to the bodyright campaign is the ⓑ symbol, which was made available to be added to any image directly via Instagram stories using stickers, or by going to the bodyright webpage to use the automatic ‘bodyright tool’ or to download the symbol directly.

Strategically, we designed a multi-platform approach that leveraged this new symbol across all of the materials to increase education and awareness and drive interest to action, through an online petition to policymakers and big tech through Global Citizen along with an interactive social campaign that leveraged social tools for online users to demand protections for their bodies and images from online exploitation and violence. To date, more than 7,000 people have signed the online petition, and campaign engagement on social media has seen the likes of Deja Foxx, Ashley Judd, Sharon Stone and Meadow Walker, among others.

To launch this campaign, we partnerd with Rakaya Fetuga, award-winning poet and spoken-word artist from London and of Ghanaian and Nigerian descent. Spoken-word provided an avenue to highlight and humanize the harms of online violence, without relying heavily on technical or academic-sounding language. Rakaya crafted a powerful piece and delivered it on film, creating a piece of earned-centric creative we used to land an exclusive in Teen Vogue, targeting a Gen Z audience. The film also generated global impact with coverage in outlets across the U.S., UK, France, Italy, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, India, Egypt, Cuba and others.

OUTCOME

The ⓑodyright symbol has received global media recognition, with activations across US, EMEA, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, and grabbed the attention of multiple celebrity influencers. In Its first few months of launch, the campaign has resulted In:

  • High online engagement with a total of 1.2 billion estimated global reach across social and online news channels, including 5.3k direct mentions and 79.1k engagements.  
  • Shared by UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador Ashley Judd (532k followers) with probono promotion by UNFPA influencers Deja Foxx (47.8k followers), Meadow Walker (3.6m followers), Rita Ora (16.1m followers), Aytaç Şaşmaz (3.8m followers)
  • Organically shared by celebrity influencer Sharon Stone (2.9m followers) and Paul Walker’s team reshared Meadow Walkers ⓑodyright post (14.3m followers)  The online petition has successfully hit over 11,300 signatures and is on track to reach 20,000
  • The campaign video is officially UNFPA’s most watched video. Reaching two million views across all channels and reaching over 13,000 organic views on YouTube
  • The ⓑodyright webpage has achieved record breaking levels for UNFPA, clocking 1.7 million views (300k views in Spanish and 185k views in French) and an average viewing time of 01:40 mins

Coverage: 

  • 532 pieces of coverage across online news/ blogs (and counting). Online highlights include media exclusive with Teen Vogue, international coverage from Agence France-Presse which was syndicated globally, and coverage in leading outlets such as Independent and France 24  
  • Broadcast interviews included Sky News, Cheddar, Newsy, BBC World Service, and mentions across BBC Radio 4’s Today