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.

Her collaborative play, “Emotional, debuted Off-Broadway last year, giving voice to global girls’ issues .

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, 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!

There are 18 comments

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  1. Lia Ferguson

    Malala’s story struck me as I read about her in Glamour magazine. When I saw that her book was one I could choose to blog about, I was excited to share my interest and inspiration. I too, am a woman who fights for equality have a strong passion for showcasing the strength of a woman. This movement spoke loudly to me and it pierced my heart. This is such an amazing movement.

  2. Deisy

    I’ve never made a huge deal about Valentine’s day. I never thought it was that important, my boyfriends and I plan to just eat chipotle and watch movies (pretty much what we always do). Until today, I’ve never heard of this V-day celebration. I actually think this is more exciting than any other normal valentine’s day celebration. I think Valentine’s day should be about celebrating love in general, not only romantic kind of love, and this is a great date to encourage the end of violence and spread the love.

    I’ve watched this video of Malala multiple times. I am always in awe of her spirit and how she seems wise beyond her years. I can only hope that one day I can be a little bit like her.

  3. Kristin Ferrandino

    I think Eve’s mission is nobly a great one; it’s amazing how much traction it has picked up in such a short period of time. The massive amounts of worldwide celebrations as well as company/personality endorsements are undeniably staggering. It is also amazing how broad the spectrum is of women’s rights, violence, equality, etc., that they look to stand for is — and, at that — the fact that they successfully tackle them, even more so.
    I third the feelings on Malala so far — I recall watching this for the first time and being so taken aback by her intelligence and strength.

  4. Emily Spierer

    I really enjoyed the first video “One Billion Rising,” which I had never seen before. I liked how the video juxtaposed different scenarios of violence against women taking place throughout the world, which demonstrated the severity of this issue and further illuminated it on a global scale. The climax of the video showed how today, people (and women in particular) are fighting back and speaking out against this violence against women throughout the world, specifically through various movements, and V-day specifically. I think it is important to note the role that social media and the Internet has played in the success of V-day, demonstrating the power of crowdsourcing and “crowdrising” in today’s digital culture. I am not a huge Valentines Day person either, but I really like how the V-day movement focuses on celebrating love and equality for all – throughout the world – by standing up and speaking out against violence against women as a global problem.

  5. Evyenia

    I really appreciate this post! It’s so inspiring to read about women empowering women. Malala’s story honestly brings me to tears, she is a true hero in my eyes. I am really intrigued by the flash mobs that you said you were going to film, would you consider sharing some of the footage that you captured with us?

  6. Evyenia

    I just wanted to add that the “one billion rising” video is emotional, powerful and beautiful. Goosebumps. I had to write a research paper on FGM ( female genital mutilation) in high school, and I was horrified by what I learned. To watch a video like this depict the victims standing up for themselves is really cathartic and inspiring.

  7. SeungMi Kim

    I never knew that there’s this sort of meaningful celebration happening on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day had always reminded me of just sharing love with chocolate, especially for boyfriends. I never thought of it as a day to spread love in general, so it was surprising to hear about this amazing activist movement.

    I was highly inspired by “One Billion Rising” video and thought that it was successful in promoting this global act, starting with problematic scenes of how women are suffering from violence. Scenes at the end, which show women peacefully dancing and rising their index finger to indicate the movement, “One Billion Rising”, were completely powerful and inspiring.

    As a female, I have always been aware of those current problematic issues regarding of women being raped or sexually abused all over the world. Nowadays, those problems have increasingly grown as well as the awareness to violence against women and girls in my country, Korea. Since I have heard of so many cases relating to violence against women these days, I sometimes feel afraid and scared to go somewhere or do something just because of my gender.
    It is happy to hear that that this kind of movement exists, and the movement itself as well as its purpose should widely be recognized and appreciated. I believe that this will encourage women all over the world and help stop violence around the globe.


    While reading this article, it made me look back what i did on valentines day. For me, valentines day was just a special day meant for couples, having a chance for them to realize of the happkness between their relationshop once more. Also it just looked like it was a day for the restaurants and shops to sell their products more expensive, making it possible for them to raise as much profit as possible from the customers who are willing to pay more on tbe overpriced products for their valentines.

    However, looking at the article, it touched my mind from getting to know that there are people who are actually trying to make this commercial day to a special day for the people around the world, encouraging minorities and weak people to stand up. The videos and the lists of events that they did showed me how much people were trying to spread out the real love, giving hope and happiness to the people who thought they were left out and weak.

    Many special days like valentines day might look as if it is just a way for people to have a reason to go out. By reading this ariticle, it made me think about the speical days again on how it could actually be a meaningful day for many people.

    I wonder if there are also these kind of meaningful events that are going around the world.

  9. Ben

    Malala’s story struck me with the strongest chord also. I’ve been really interested in contributing to the change of A) the gender gap in job placement in media/film and expectations within those categories and B) gender violence. I think that there are few institutions and people who’ve looked at dance as a form of political theater and I am happy to see that something that is whimsical, strengthening and releases stress is executed for a cause. I had seen the TED TALKS awhile ago and had no idea to how many Countries that this has touched. Bravo!

  10. Juyeon Jung

    After I read this article, I felt little ashamed of how I’ve always considered the meaning of Valentine’s Day. It was just a special day to celebrate with beloved ones for me. The first thing came in my head is that I really appreciate their hard work and the courage they speak out in front of the public to help and share love with the weak.

    I think this One Billion Rising campaign is stimulating activity in a way that thousands of people participating in such this meaningful campaign. It will affect on many people who were not aware of the fact that those activities actually touch each one’s heart so change the world eventually. It is very important how this world is now fighting for women (against violence such as sexual abuse in particular) throughout variety types of social medias and flash mobs. Standing up against something in front of public is not an easy thing to do. However, this V-day “One Billion Rising” campaign proved anyone can speak out against violence in women throughout the world. Hoping this V-day movement to be widely known, I want to also participate next year.

  11. Paloma Urquijo

    While i greatly appreciate One Billion Risings’ efforts to spread the word and bring awareness to women’s rights while also empowering these women, i am still skeptical about the change these rallies or movements can actually have on this ongoing problem. I am in no way trying to say that i do not support One Billion Rising, but i thought their videos had much more of an impact on me as opposed to the v day rally as it shows different cases of women being treated badly and then overcoming it and standing strong. I think the different women in their videos are relatable to a large audience and would inspire women to stand for what they believe in. Malala is an excellent spokesperson for this cause because she actually spoke out and stood up for what she believed in, when it could have meant the difference between life or death. I think the big goal of movements like these are to empower women which i believe the video and malala successfully do.

  12. Yoon Hee Song

    I think this movement is changing the meaning of Valentine’s Day through out the world. As it became the biggest global action in the history of the world, I hope that this movement gets spread out more and raise awareness of the people. This kind of event is very important in increasing awareness of society because people might think that violence against women has no direct relationship to them. But it is actually happening all around the world and women and young girls are being sexually abused, raped and beaten by others. Also, Some countries in Africa are still practicing female genital mutilation and usually young girls are forced by their parents for traditional reason. It is significant to learn those issues happening near-by and this kind of article and video is very helpful and it is delivery its message to the people.

  13. Priyanka Paul

    Women’s rights and the fight against violence and rape is a very important topic for me as I am from India and there have been an increasingly high amount of rape and violence cases against women there. There was a brutal rape case that occurred last year in the city I live in, New Delhi, and since then so many rape cases have been heard about in India. Whenever I speak to someone about India they always say that there have been so many rape cases there recently. The truth however is that brutal rapes have been happening in India and hundreds of innocent women have been dying there for years. The reason everyone thinks it just started is because people just started talking about it. Rape cases have recently been getting so much attention from the media in India because of the rape case last year and the brutality of it, however so many women have been raped in the past and they were never spoken about or given justice. And I know this happens all over the world but the reason I talk only about India is because, firstly, its where I come here and secondly, because the culture specially there treats women and men so differently. I fortunately have been raised in a family where women are equal to men, if not in a higher position and more respected. However most men in India just view women as their slaves, and this is such an irony to me, because most of the powerful Indian gods are women. Also India is one of few countries where women have had as high as presidential positions in the government and some of the most successful athletes in India are women; despite this, majority of men do not have respect or value for women and unfortunately most women in India do not know any other life. Women there view themselves as slaves because that is the culture that they have been brought up in. Because of all this I have a lot of respect for women such as, Eve Ensler and Malala Yousfzai who fight for the rights of women. I hope some day to do the same for women in India and help them fight for their rights.

    • Kathleen Sweeney

      Thank you for sharing your powerful perspective, especially in terms of the ways these stories are now being told, and the power of social media and the Interwebs in spreading news, as horrific as it might be, that was previously suppressed. Our current ability to tell stories that would have been covered up by local police or communities looking to protect the names of the assailants (and often the victims) marks a communications revolution, which is why Net Neutrality is so important. While we cannot predict which stories seeking justice will “go viral”, anymore than we can predict the outcomes of justice post-violence, this window we now possess on world issues links us to commonalities of experience as global citizens. Going forward, we continue to work towards an articulation of, and manifestation of, universal human rights. This includes free speech, clean air and water, shared natural resources, education, and the freedom to live without sexual assault. Stories lead us to the core DNA of our compassion, which is often the doorway to justice, and social change.


    The first video was very striking to me as it showed the difficulties that women all over the world are suffering as well as the injustice that is happening. As a woman myself I have been lucky enough to not suffer this discriminations and injustices, and therefore when I see what other females around the globe are going through it encourages me to try and with my voice do something about it. I want them to be able to have the same freedom that I do, this is what attracts me the most of the One Billion Rising, not just a date but a movement to promote freedom, independence and courage to women all over the world that are suffering.
    Malala is a great example of what many are going through and I think that it is so impactful towards the viewers as she is a young girl who stud up for herself and took matters into her own hands, she was able to show us that everyone can make a difference and spark a conversation about what is happening in the world surrounding this topic. Overall I think that One Billion Rising helps promote and is very much successful at making you want to join the movement and spread the word.

  15. Amanda Boyd

    Valentine’s Day is such a “Hallmark Holiday” and one that’s never really ruffled my feathers in any real sense. This past Valentine’s Day was the first one in 5 years of being together that my fiancé and I actually got to spend together (long distance up until this past August) which was lovely (Brooklyn Bowl just opened up in London so he surprised me by taking me there!) but no more lovely than our standard weekly date night… by which I mean, we didn’t put any extra stress on it and just enjoyed a night out with one another and so it was a great evening.

    As for the 1 Billion Rising: what a wonderful event. Things like that always restore my faith in humanity and give me goosebumps.

    Mala Yousfzai is incredible. I’m genuinely in awe of her (slash wondering what I’m doing with my life… she’s 16 and changing the world and here I am, working 70+ hour weeks for a brand). The strongest part of the video, for me, was the following:
    “The solution that would work to fight all these wars and all these problems that people are facing is education. Because you can stop war for a second, but you don’t know (if) it will start again or not. We’ve seen (the) First World War, we’ve seen (the) Second World War and I think the third World War is coming but I believe we must stop it now. I don’t want to see a third World War in this world again. And the best way to fight against this war is education because as we can see the children are suffering from terrorism, they’re suffering from child labor and child trafficking. They’re also suffering from the culture norms and traditions. There is not only one issue we are facing, there are many others as well. So I think education is the best way.”
    I think she 100% has it right. Education is absolutely key; if we’re not educated, how do we learn from our past mistakes (and wins), how do we learn acceptance? Forgiveness? How to communicate? The pen, after all, is far mightier than the sword.

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