One Billion Rising is a justice campaign that doesn’t just spread the word – it takes the word around the world. On February 14, 2014, 200 countries held events outside of government buildings, homes, places of worship, and countless other locations to demand justice for women and survivors of gender violence.
In the United States, nearly 1 in 5 women will experience rape at some time in their lives. This number increases to 1 in 4 women on college campuses. And hundreds of thousands of women and girls are bought and sold into sex trafficking each year.
Recent events on colleges campuses across America have shown that coming together as a community, fighting victim blaming, and not allowing colleges and universities to sweep sexual assault under the rug have been hugely successful — but we are not finished.
This year, on February 14, 2015, One Billion Rising is calling for revolution through dance. The art of dance connects people’s bodies to the earth and allows for free expression and reclaiming of the body as a whole.
Women’s bodies have too long been commodified, objectified, and racialized by male eyes. We have been made to feel unsafe in our neighborhoods, homes, schools, and countless other places because of the frequency of sexual violence in this country and around the world.
We hear about new cases of sexual violence every day, and many of us have become desensitized to them. It is only when they are extremely highly publicized that the public takes note and agrees that something needs to be done to stop this, but life keeps moving, another woman gets assaulted, and no one takes notice.
Women are exploited in factories and in various labor markets around the world in part because society does not place the same worth on the bodies of women as it does on the bodies of men. In 2014, workers in the United Kingdom, the Philippines, and the United States rallied to stop practices in the workforce that promote and reinforce poverty and injustice for women.
One Billion Rising demands justice for all women through grassroots work, especially in the form of art. Art is something that all women can get behind and participate in, no matter what country they live in or what language they speak. It is not enough just to say that something is wrong in our society – we must actively seek and work for change, because there are millions of women whose cause is not being fought for because they live in corners of the world that news cameras do not reach.
This Valentine’s Day, spend some time reflecting on what you can do to begin to right the injustices that women and girls around the world face every day. Sexual violence – most often at the hands of men – robs women of their safety, security, and even their lives. It is not just a women’s issue; it is everyone’s issue.
Carolyn Ebeling is our Social Media Intern. A junior at UNC-Chapel Hill, she works on a variety of outreach projects for education and advocacy.