Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had a hard time promoting gender equality — or even demonstrating a capacity to deal with women in a genuinely respectful manner. Earlier this month, his bungled compliment for Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in which he applauded her acumen at doing her job “despite being a woman,” drew instant jeers on social media.
Perhaps in an effort to put that gaffe in the rearview mirror for good, Modi has launched a new social media stunt, the Wall Street Journal reports. During his monthly radio address on Sunday, the prime minister asked moms and dads throughout the nation to tweet photos of themselves and their daughters. TIME reports that the social media tactic is aimed at recognizing and celebrating the girl child and is a part of his larger “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” (Save the Daughter, Educate the Daughter) campaign. India is a country where the births of boys greatly outnumber births of girls each year. And, in what is a historically patriarchal society, many baby girls are killed at birth because they’re considered less desirable. A report earlier this year estimated as many as 2,000 girls a day are killed in often brutal fashion.
Modi is no stranger to social media — during his campaign, he used the #SelfieWithModi campaign to increase his popularity with voters. More than 70,000 people reportedly posed for a selfie with Modi during the run-up to the election. The #SelfieWithDaughter idea sprang from a local politician in a small village in the state of Haryana who proposed a similar concept to draw attention to his state’s uneven birth rates. Haryana placed last among all Indian states in its child gender birth ratio as of the the last national census; there were just 834 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of six years old.
According to reports, the hashtag #SelfieWithDaughter was trending shortly after Modi made the request as a photos poured onto Twitter. “The contest made the news and got nationwide approval,” IBNLive noted. And the campaign transcended India as people from around the globe with Indian roots posted photos of themselves with their daughters on Twitter — and even some who have no connection at all to India have been tweeting photos. Below is a sampling of what’s been turning up on the hashtag.
— Mohit Yadav,IFS (@MohitYadavIFS) June 29, 2015
— Vijay Goel (@VijayGoelBJP) June 29, 2015
— आदिवासी (@AaadiVaashi) June 29, 2015
— विशाल जैन (@vishal_jain11) June 29, 2015
— Rofl Gandhi (@RoflGandhi_) June 29, 2015
— Naveen Jindal (@MPNaveenJindal) June 29, 2015
— Jayant UnKill (@jayantgajria) June 29, 2015
— Chhabi (@Chhabiy) June 28, 2015
— SwedishRacing (@Swedish_Racing) June 28, 2015
Correction: an earlier tweet included in this article featured a satirical comment about an Indian politician seen in a photograph with his companion, not his daughter. We regret the error.