One Billion Rising: Strike! Dance! Rise!
One Billion Rising is a campaign which is based on a very novel and refreshing approach to feminism. The campaign began in 2012, when a number of people from all over the world signed up for it, and it is based on the fight against violence towards women. The campaign, which focuses on gender equality, rose with the intention of doing away with helplessness amongst the gender. The idea of the campaign was to mobilize and empower women to fight for justice, and to rise together to end the suffering they have to face, worldwide.
Whether it be a developed nation or an under-developed one, violence against women is something which is prevalent throughout the world. According to the campaign, one in every three women is bound to face violence of some form or the other in her lifetime. This statistical figure is what brought about the name of the campaign, One Billion Rising.
The campaign was initiated by V-Day, the organization which was founded by Eve Ensler, the playwright who wrote The Vagina Monologues. For Ensler, the number of stories of violence of some form or the other, which women in the audience would share with her, after shows of The Vagina Monologues made her start the V-Day organization. When One Billion Rising was announced, people from over 160 countries signed up for it. On the 15th of February, 2013, One Billion Rising was realized, and how! The formal beginning of the event was on Valentine’s Day, which is the 14th of February. Women as well as men from over 207 countries showed up to participate.
The first round of the campaign itself was a monumental one. It brought women together from various countries, cultures, races, classes and religions, and united them towards one common cause. Although the event was held in various places around the world, the One Billion Rising campaign mobilized the common sentiment which had otherwise not been consolidated at this large a scale. The various issues of violence were not discussed so much as they were expressed. The very fact that large numbers of women came together to dance is a very novel concept. Dance is a form of artistic expression which also enables empowerment.
Many women who have been victims of various forms of violence came together to dance away their fears, their apprehensions, their depression, and the societal “shame” which is often dumped upon them. The dancing was not just therapeutic, but also a political statement for the need and the demand for safe space for women in public. The movement got massive media attention, which also helped spread the message of the various kinds of suffering which are inflicted upon women who might apparently be leading “normal” lives.
The movement created a sense of unity which was lacking at a global level. Women , purely on the basis of their gender and their common suffering rose to fight against it by dancing out their feelings, by dancing out their frustration and demands. The dancing was also a celebration of their own gender.
The One Billion Rising campaign refuses to be the end to the means. It is, in fact the means towards the end of violence against the female gender. According to the homepage of the campaign:
“ONE BILLION WOMEN VIOLATED IS AN ATROCITY.
ONE BILLION WOMEN DANCING IS A REVOLUTION.”