Conflict & Justice

One Billion Rising aims to end violence against women

This story is a part of

Human Needs

This story is a part of

Human Needs

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A group of women are coming together under the name One Billion Rising — and dancing in an effort to end violence against women. (Photo courtesy of One Billion Rising.)

Women and girls from more than 190 countries and territories will join together on Feb. 14 as part of the global activist movement One Billion Rising. They're calling for an end to violence against women and girls.

Organizers of the global campaign are hoping to pull together the largest day of action in the 15 years of V-Day, a movement founded by Eve Ensler that works to end violence against women and girls, using the attention generated by Valentine's Day. As part of the V-Day campaign, volunteers produce local, benefit performances of Ensler's award winning play, The Vagina Monologues.

This year's V-Day campaign, One Billion Rising, grew out of a simple statistic: one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime. The group invited one billion women in cities all over the world to walk out, dance, rise up and demand an end to violence, often with flash mobs.

Irene Greene, coordinator of a One Billion Rising flash mob in Minneapolis, says she was drawn to the cause because, for 24 hours, all over the world, women and girls would be coming together to call for an end to violence. 

"We have four minutes and 19 seconds that is female-only space and that's rare," she said. "The flash mob itself is for women and girls to dance with each other and share and take space together. That part is extremely powerful to me."

Greene works as a psychotherapist, but she’s also a community organizer and activist. Using a flash-mob to call attention to a painful issue, Greene says, is a fun way to make a serious point.

Greene and the co-coordinator Marianne Turnbull created their event on Facebook. Turnbull, a school social worker, says the event spread quickly through the social networking site.

"What excites me so much about (One Billion Rising), is that so many high school girls and junior high girls are learning the dance together, whether that's in their living rooms or their classrooms, in their dance studios — they are coming to the event,” she said. “That's really exciting to me to have girls and women be such a strong source of our event."

The growth of events like One Billion Rising around the globe is due in no small part to social networking sites. But for Turnbull, getting involved in One Billion Rising also meant getting involved in a changing dialogue.

"There's progress, we're talking about it and it's out there now,” she said. "Sometimes you wonder if anything changes. Well this, to me, is really significant. This is the world's largest gathering around one issue and it's amazing what Eve Ensler has done."