1 in 3 women across the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. That’s ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. Every February, we rise – in hundreds of countries across the world – to show our local communities and the world what one billion looks like and shine a light on the rampant impunity and injustice that survivors most often face. We rise through dance to express joy and community and and celebrate the fact that we have not been defeated by this violence. We rise to show we are determined to create a new kind of consciousness – one where violence will be resisted until it is unthinkable.
Dear beautiful women of the world,
I write to you as a fellow woman. I share this little blue planet with you all, and share experiences, laughter, joy, heartache, adventure, sadness, anger, amazement and so much more with you all on our little blue planet. I have always believed that the women of this earth are spectacular creatures of strength and beauty who have so much potential to support and care for one another and make huge differences in the world. But there are times when I feel heartbroken at what our sisters on this planet endure and the men and women who stand back and allow this to happen.
One Billion Rising is the biggest mass action to end violence against women in human history. The campaign, launched on Valentine’s Day 2012, began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. Rape and sexual assualt have one of the lowest report rates of any crime, and in addition to that, only a fraction of reported rapes actually result in conviction.
On 14 February 2013, people across the world came together to express their outrage, strike, dance, and RISE in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women. Last year, on 14 February 2014, One Billion Rising for Justice focused on the issue of justice for all survivors of gender violence, and highlighted the impunity that lives at the intersection of poverty, racism, war, the plunder of the environment, capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy. This year, 2015, ONE BILLION RISING: REVOLUTION is an energy, a platform, a global movement, a catalyst, a worldwide decision to end violence against women, a demand for justice, a paradigm shift, an invitation, a gathering of the ready, housed everywhere, housed in our hearts, you, us, REVOLUTION.
International data on rape and sexual assault states that 1 in 3 women have experienced a sexual assault. Over 60% of these women have experienced more than one incident of assault. 81% of assaults were committed by known men. (Statistics from http://www.cwasu.org/) I ask you to think for a moment about the ‘what if’s’. What if it were your sister who returned distraught after a night out? What if it were your father who violently exerted his ‘marital rights’? What if it were your best friend who dressed up for a night out and got attacked on her way to meet you? What if it were you?
Women, please remember that we share this little blue planet. We share similar hopes, dreams and experiences. Deep within women-kind is the unending ability to love and care for her sisters on this earth, and we need to return to this and stand together. Look out for that girl on the dancefloor who might need you to intervene for her. Watch the car that woman is getting into thinking it’s a cab and help her if you think it’s not. Get angry about the injustices that we see in the world. Stand up for the women who need you to. We need to look after each other and care for each other and no longer blame each other for the crimes that others commit.
Eve Ensler’s latest monologue ‘My Revolution Lives in this Body’ is a moving call to change and to stand up for the women who so desperately need our voice when theirs has been silenced. As one of the founders of the V-Day movement and the author of ‘The Vagina Monologues’
Change can happen if grassroots movements and marginalized communities are in the lead.
Change can happen if we demand accountability – making sure our justice calls last year are realized. We are going to continue to demand justice, and will continue to highlight the issues surrounding the social injustices inflicted on women, and to keep highlighting where these issues connect. We will continue to challenge institutions, governments, policies, laws – and make these systems, which are responsible for creating situations of poverty and violence, accountable.
Change can happen if we harness our creativity and energy. We will highlight, create and envision new, brave and radical artistic initiatives to bring in the new revolutionary world of equality, dignity and freedom for all women and girls. There is nothing more powerful than art as a tool for transformation.
Change can happen if…WE ACT NOW. AND WE ACT TOGETHER.