V-Day: One Billion Rising
At the launch of the Omega Center for Women’s Leadership in September 2012, Eve Ensler debuted her drumbeat call for #1BillionRising to End Violence Against Girls and Women on V-Day, Valentine’s Day 2013. Since then, she has been traveling the world gathering support for the cause. 207 countries signed on to support the movement last year, with thousands of supporters hosting dance events in towns, cities and villages, on college campuses, in parks, on sidewalks, in tents and on dirt floors, making it “the biggest global action in the history of the world.” Crowdsourced and crowdrising to the max. As Eve notes, “if imagination is a muscle then that is the muscle we must be exercising”…to imagine a world where women and girls can be free to lead, create, grow, learn and prosper without fear of violence. Watch the video:
This year, the mission of #1BillionRising continues, with another global event on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14, 2014. This year’s theme is Rising for Justice.
On 14 February 2014*, we are escalating our efforts, calling on women and men everywhere to RISE, RELEASE, DANCE, and demand JUSTICE! ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE is a global call to women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice – courthouses, police stations, government offices, school administration buildings, work places, sites of environmental injustice, military courts, embassies, places of worship, homes, or simply public gathering places where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not. It is a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories – politically, spiritually, outrageously – through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right.
#1BillionRising put social media on overdrive with last year’s YouTube Channel, featuring the “Why I am Rising” statements of hundreds of celebrities and activists, a how-to toolkit on their V-Day website and a campaign on the social cause aggregator site, Thunderclap. In New York City, thousands participated in a Union Square flash mob with live music that morphed into a parade traveling north up Broadway to view performers in windows at local businesses. The evening continued with celebrity fanfare and a huge dance party at the Hammerstein Ballroom.
The video recap from last year’s event provides footage of celebratory dancing from all around the world:
To find an event nearby this year, check out the global map.
Drawing on the success of her play, “The Vagina Monologues,” Eve Ensler spear-headed the V-Day movement, which brings global awareness to violence against women and girls. V-Day, now in its 15th year,
is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex slavery.
Eve Ensler discusses the V-Girls project and reads from the accompanying book, I am an Emotional Creature on TedTalks:
Many organizations including the Clinton Global Initiative, Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank (micro-lending), as well as the United Nations Millennium Goals, have made the cause of girls and women a priority worldwide. Bestsellers such as Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea and Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, have contributed to a global trend in acknowledging that educating, empowering and funding women and girls is key to ending global poverty.
Global heroines like Malala Yousfzai have stepped into leadership, advocating for girls education. Watch her wow Jon Stewart on the Daily Show:
Around the world and around the block, girls have been lynchpins in eliciting change through heroic actions. According to Ben Rattray, the founder of Change.org, teenage girls have become the most successful online changemakers in history.
While the statistics on gender inequity and violence against women and girls can be daunting, dance as activism provides another alternative to shifting awareness and collectivizing change. Plus, it’s fun.
What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? I for one am heading to Union Square Park with my camera, where another V-Day Flash Mob will take place at 5:30pm.
Please share your thoughts on V-Day and the videos and links provided above. And if you’re inspired, join #1BillionRising events this year!