Tomorrow, one billion people in over 200 countries will dance.
They will be separated by seas and borders and they will dance to different genres of music and they will wear different clothing and they will speak different languages, but they will rally around a common goal – a desire to tell the world they’re tired of violence against women and cultures that propagate it.
They are tired of subjugation and complacency. They are tired of people and cultures that blame the victim and pardon the perpetrator.
They are indignant over the statistics – that one in three women around the world will be beaten or raped in her lifetime – and they are outraged that one billion women in a world of seven billion have experienced violence.
They are indignant at the World Bank observation that women between 15 and 44 are more susceptible to rape and domestic violence than to cancer, car accidents, war and malaria.
And in a show of their strength, they – one billion women and the men who love them– will forego the routine Valentine’s Day experience to fight for a cause near and dear to them.
Called One Billion Rising, this is a global campaign recognized by 200 countries and 13,000 organisations that’s inviting people “to walk out, dance, rise up and demand an end to this violence”.
Famous faces will join everyday faces, activists, writers, organizers, politicians, actors, and athletes to “express their outrage, demand change, strike, dance, and rise in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women”.
Physicist Dr Vandana Shiva is angry that rape cases have increased 240 percent since the 1990s, a period heralding economic reforms worldwide. She is angry that “an economics of commodification creates a culture of commodification, where everything has a price and nothing has value” and that allows women to become objects.
This is why she will rise.
Organisations all over New Zealand and Australia have organised One Billion Rising movements.
Helen Clark is rising in her capacity as director of UNDP. Australia’s PM Julia Gillard broadcasted a video in which she incited people to join the movement.
“Let’s find the courage to stand together and say ‘Enough. The violence has to stop.’ There is a better way and it starts with us,” Gillard said.
Groups in Tahiti and Raiatea and Hawai’i are rising. Aboriginal women will be taking over a stadium in Queensland and Kiwi women will be doing the conga in Wanganui.
One Billion Rising founder Eve Ensler has called One Billion Rising a “huge feminist tsunami”.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime,” she told UK newspaper The Guardian.
The point of One Billion Rising is this, according to Amnesty International, “By being a part of One Billion Rising we will all discover our solidarity and the scope of this issue. We will come to know that ending violence against women is as important as ending poverty, or Aids or global warming. We will come to see that it is not a local issue or particular to any culture or religion or village or age. We will come to see what is possible.
When One Billion bodies rise and dance on 14 February 2013, we will join in solidarity, purpose and energy and shake the world into a new consciousness.”
Tomorrow, one-seventh of the world’s population will dance. Will you?