Regina Yau is on a mission—and she is using the tools of social media and the power of the Internet to push her agenda forward. As Founder and President of The Pixel Project, Yau is determined to raise global awareness about violence against women and girls, while simultaneously garnering volunteers and funds to implement her vision.
In February 2012, her non-profit launched the “Valentine Against Violence” initiative by selecting the vehicle of music to engage both men and women in combating sexual violence and raising dollars.
The underlying goal was to combine a positive message of love for self, and others, wrapped in the accessibility of music. Peter Hollens, widely known on YouTube for his a cappella performances, collaborated with The Pixel Project to render a performance that he hoped would “bolster the spirits of survivors, raise funds, and inspire people worldwide to take action to stop violence against women.”
The song, Firework, written by Katy Perry, was made available as a single download on iTunes for $1.29. The Deluxe HD version includes an “Anti-Violence Toolkit” designed by The Pixel Project that offered virtual banners, badges, and wallpapers to help amplify visibility. Proceeds from sales of the song went to The Pixel Project’s Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign in aid of the USA’s National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Malaysia’s Women’s Aid Organisation.
Reached by e-mail, Yau wrote about her hopes for “Valentine Against Violence,” which ended on February 29, 2012. She said, “The “Valentine Against Violence” campaign was specially created by The Pixel Project to celebrate love and positive relationships in honour of Valentine’s Day. We hope as many people as possible will download the song to share it with their loved ones to reinforce the importance of having healthy non-violent relationships based on respect and affection.”
“Valentine Against Violence” was aimed at two different audiences, Yau noted. She specified “women and girls who have experienced any gender-based violence” and “the general audience—including men and young people.” The former group will receive “the empowering message that they matter.” The latter will be encouraged “to think about, value and engage in positive and healthy relationships with women and girls in their families and communities.”
For Yau, music is a tool for “engaging the audience emotionally with the cause without resorting to triggering materials such as horrific imagery.” Using music as a way of getting the public aware of the issue leads to interest in learning more, and how they can help.
Relating that the “Valentine Against Violence” campaign was The Pixel Project’s first campaign to combine social media, music, and YouTube, Yau explained, “As YouTube is the most popular video sharing channel in the world, the music video element of ‘Valentine Against Violence’ has added another dimension and increased momentum for our social media outreach—given that we have previously mostly campaigned through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, Google+ and other text and link-based social media channels.”
A key to the strategy was “getting the attention of people who love music but who might not necessarily have an interest in the cause.”
I asked Yau how The Pixel Project’s Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign fit into the philosophy of getting men and boys activated in what she believes has been “stereotyped as a women’s issue.” She pointed out that many men do not see it as a problem that affects them, leading to a reluctance to get involved.
Yau told me, “When I got the inspiration for the Pixel Reveal campaign back in January 2009, I felt very strongly then–as I do now–that communities, cultures and societies worldwide cannot effectively stop gender-based violence without involving good men in efforts to do so and acknowledging that a vital part of preventing violence against women and girls lies in raising boys to become good non-violent men who respect their female counterparts.”
It’s a good place to start.
This article originally appeared on Women’s News Network.