In the last two years of the One Billion Rising for Justice and One Billion Rising Revolution campaigns, all over the world, youth took to the streets, occupied their schools and communities, and created some of the most creative, audacious and radical Rising events. The energy that came from the youth sector was inspiring and bold – from rising to end rapes and sexual assault on campuses, for the right to education, and ending sex trafficking, to rising to end poverty and make young women’s voices heard – we saw youth defiantly claiming their right to a future free of violence, discrimination and exploitation. We also saw the incredible persistence and bravery of young women and men, boys and girls, insisting on a future where girls can live with equality and dignity. Throughout, youth used art to shape their risings, giving them a diverse and radical edge.
What is emerging across the One Billion Rising movement is a youth revolution like no other – young people leading the way, through diverse artistic, cultural, social and political actions, determining the future they would like for themselves. A future with humanity and choice. A future where girls can grow up and thrive with opportunities and with freedom. The youth revolution is outspoken, unafraid, determined, colorful, current and bold, and it is leading a new way forward.
Examples of Youth Risings:
One Billion Rising: Revolution, 2015
Young people from all over the world embraced the Revolution theme and owned it with diverse creative expressions of what their aspirations are for the future. We saw the engagement of 500 schools rising in Mexico where all classes danced for weeks as part of their school programs where ending Violence Against Women was discussed.
We saw youth in the Philippines doing a nation-wide walk out from their universities to call for President Aquino’s resignation as they demanded quality not commercialised education that they can no longer afford under their “Rise for Education” campaign. We saw children across countries in South Asia dancing and expressing through art their dreams for a violence free world.
We saw school children in South Africa call for Revolution, and young girls in India taking to the streets in protest demanding teachers for their schools. We saw young girls in the UK creating Goddess art and sharing in front of huge crowds – why they have the right to grow up with dignity and equality. We saw girls all over Swaziland create girls clubs to discuss their issues openly and demand discourse and changes for themselves, while they self-organised protest marches all over their cities. We saw an outpouring of artistic expressions – poetry, dances, songs, theatre, spoken word, music – created by young people all over the world as they rose to demand revolutionary changes to their right to education, within their cultures and societies, and their right to grow up free of violence.
One Billion Rising for Justice, 2014
The South Africa V-Girls led innovative actions for the Rising, including discussion sessions on justice, emotional intelligence and rights, music, poetry and art events, and a Justice Youth concert to rise against rape, sexual abuse, and gender discrimination. They also rose to bring customary laws into a human rights framework.
V-girls in Somalia rose by going to different IDP camps in Mogadishu for a petition to change the penal code.
Young women led the Lesotho Rising by creating a space for young women to discuss their justice issues. The rising included a performance of “The Vagina Monologues” and a story circle where issues of sexual and economic violence against women were discussed openly.
Santa Fe, New Mexico:
In the lead up to the Rising in February, an “Empower the Girl” summit was organized and led by V-Girls from Santa Fe. As part of the campaign, young activists and students in the community held creative “Just Art” initiatives with tattoo events and photo exhibits on themes of justice at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design.
Through #CampusRising, students at colleges and universities across all 50 states of the U.S. rose to stop sexual assault on campuses and to hold administrations accountable to properly prevent or adequately respond to the needs of the college survivors. #CampusRising leveraged V-Day’s 15-year history at schools across the nation, which has contributed to what is now a widespread dialogue about reforming campus sexual assault policies.
Out of the 150 Risings that took place in 119 cities across Italy, the majority of participants were young people. Youth and students all over the country shared their thoughts on the larger meaning of justice for women and girls: the importance of respect, value, a guarantee for equality and social justice, but all pointing to EDUCATION as crucial starting point.
“In order to stop violence, injustice, discrimination and abuse of power it’s necessary to change the culture that generates it. School text still describes Mums at home baking cakes while Dads owns the Family.” In Modena, students stopped their classes for the day, dancing for the Rising.
One Billion Rising for Justice took over the whole nation with an amazing sense of energy, talent and creativity. Risings to end all forms of sexual violence, abuse and discrimination continued. The most extensive energy and fun, as well as the loudest display of public presence, came from schools and college students from across the country, who led colorful risings in their communities using dance, music, poetry and art.
The One Billion Rising Philippine task force team involved a huge youth sector that initiated and implemented their own Rise for Justice campaigns and events. Led by National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), Gabriela Youth, Salinlahi Children’s group, Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (ARCSEA), Kabataan (Youth) Party List, Act Now, Anakbayan (Child of the Nation) – the comprehensive national democratic mass movement of the Filipino youth – the youth sector and youth leaders mobilised hundreds of schools and colleges around the country in their #Rise4Education – “Education is a Right not a Privilege” campaign. They rose against the government to demand greater budget for the education sector, against social injustices that do not enable their parents to pay their tuition fees, and against militarization, as schools in some parts of the country continue to be occupied by military forces. The youth also rose against lack of facilities in school, against tuition fee hikes, against the delayed salaries of their teachers, and against sexual harassment in schools. They rose against sexual exploitation of children and against poverty, taking the government to task for their economic exploitation of the people that forces thousands of young girls into prostitution each year, just to be able to continue going to school, with their “NO to Prostitution for Tuition campaign”. They marched and danced outside the Department of Education with their justice demands, and conducted local activities and awareness drives such as education forums, discussions on VAW and justice in the youth context, community outreach, build-up flash mobs and “Move to Mob” events to drumbeat their Rise for Justice campaigns for their bigger activities on February 14th. On Rising day, colleges in Metro Manila held a University Rising in the college belt, where college students came dressed in the colors of their schools in their “Wear Your Pride” initiative.