Understand – Honor – Network
Social media has become a part of our daily lives and revolutionized political communication. If used strategically, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and other digital applications are potent tools of empowerment. This is much the case also in South Asia, which is in the midst of digital transformation.
To identify, understand and honor the best social media initiatives with a positive social and political impact, our partners at the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) have created the Social Media for Empowerment Awards. For the second year in a row, the Regional Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) has actively supported the program.
“The Social Media Awards provide a one of its kind platform for the exchange of best practice and synergies in South Asia”, writes Regional Director Dr. Ronald Meinardus in his welcome remarks to the delegates who assembled for the ceremony in New Delhi in late April.
Earlier a jury of well-known media experts had assessed the 162 entries from the various countries of the region and selected the 16 winners. As in earlier years, the nominations came from India, but social media activists from Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Maldives had also sent in projects.
The joyful mood at the award ceremony subsided as the facilitator announced the Pakistani winners and – for the well-known reasons of visa-problems – nobody appeared on stage to pick up the trophy.
The Social Media for Empowerment Awards honors outstanding digital projects in eight categories: among them citizens media and journalism, advocacy and development activism, crowd sourcing and crowd economy and women empowerment, to mention only these four.
Empowerment and Enlightenment
For the winners and their teams, the one-day event presented a welcome platform to interact with like-minded individuals and organizations. Thematic round table discussions offered opportunities to exchange experiences on a personal level. In many cases, it was the first chance for the digital activists to meet people in person who they had before only known online.
That social media also has a darker side became evident in a high caliber panel at the beginning of the day. Indian media executives discussed the role of social media in fanning polarization.
“We are what we are, social media is a mirror of society”, said Arvind Gupta, the co-founder of the Digital India Foundation.
Uniting the awardees is the conviction that social media is a force of social empowerment and political enlightenment.
“Social media adds to the democratic nature of the nation and strengthens it”, says DEF’s Founder Osama Manzar.
The highlights of the event are Storified here.