India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi set off a firestorm of trolling and critique when he tried to compliment Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for being tough on terrorism, “despite being a woman.”
In a speech at the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh, Modi said in Hindi, “I am happy to say that the prime minister of Bangladesh, despite being a woman, is saying boldly that she has zero tolerance toward terrorism.”
The Twitterati responded quickly, with accusations of condescension and chauvinism, channeling their disbelief, outrage and sarcasm into a #DespiteBeingAWoman hashtag.
Some responses used humor to highlight the everyday things women accomplish "#DespiteBeingAWoman,"
Other responses brought attention to the many achievements of Indian women throughout the nation's history.
While others used Modi's comments to remind the world of the varied success of modern Indian women, from scientists who helped to guide India's first mission to Mars, to the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal in badminton.
The backhanded compliment provided some with an excuse to point out Modi's own record on women's rights in India, and the work to be done on gender equality.
Modi's supporters attempted to counter the wave of criticism with another hashtag, #ModiEmpowersWomen.
The hashtag failed to gain the same traction as its predecessor.