The One Billion Rising campaign in India has been a most amazing mobilization in the country. In the last two years, through this campaign, we were able to open up an amazing range of sites for activism in terms of people, places and issues. At the country level, the number of people reached out was larger than ever. The campaign was supported by the decade’s long local campaigns against VAWG and in return OBR provided an impetus to the women’s movement and its demand for ending violence against women.
The response to the Delhi gang rape case in India in December 2012 became a rallying point for women and especially young men who joined the struggle for justice, for stopping violence against girls and women, and making a commitment to sensitize men. This was definitely a new constituency to engage with. Through our collective efforts we mobilized, engaged, awakened and joined people throughout the country with a single demand – End Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG).
In the last two years, Jagori Rural and Sangat have jointly organized OBR Campaigns in partnership with various Civil Society organizations, conducted various Sensitization awareness and accountability events in different States of India such as Gujarat, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttrakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamilnadu, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Assam.
Through the One Billion Rising campaign, the women’s movement in South Asia and India has increased the level of awareness among common people as well as created a public presence. In addition, there has been a larger awareness about the need to eliminate VAWG. Due to patriarchal socialization resulting in male domination mind set, the level of increasing violence has been a central issue for the campaign and for the ongoing work of women’s and Human rights organizations. It needs to be acknowledged that the foundational work done by the women’s organizations since early 70s had prepared a ground for the large scale awareness and the public response in the year 2013 and 2014.
The participants found the programs relevant and felt connected. The response from the media was very encouraging and the media coverage helped to create a stronger presence and visibility to the campaign. The campaign provided an impetus for increased networking and partnership – new connections were made and new partnerships forged.
The participation of school children, male and female college students and students of professional institutions was unprecedented. In our justice campaign we made visible, volatile and impacting connections between violence against women and economic, environmental, racial, gender injustice. We formed new and hopefully lasting coalitions between existing groups and individuals not only within the women’s movement but also between people’s movements covering diverse sectors.
Through the campaign, due to the large-scale presence of ordinary people post the Delhi Gang rape incidence, there was a visible increase in reporting of VAWG cases. It was evident that an increased number of women and girls are breaking their silence around the issues of Violence against them. While it has been difficult to assess the exact number and the extent of participation of people, it seems that within the northern belt more than 150000 people from all communities directly participated in the OBR Campaign 2014 in different northern States rising to demand for justice, especially to end violence against women and girls. The indirect participation was more than a hundred thousand.
The following issues were covered in the OBR Campaign 2014:
Making the state and non-state actors, including the community/family and state institutions, accountable to women citizens.
Building a demand for safe public and private transport and environment for women.
Creating awareness on the issue of safety at work places.
Bringing the attention of state actors, especially the legal institutions as well as the police, on non-implementation of laws to protect women and girls from violence.
Identifying and correcting the knowledge and practices around the issue of gender equality in colleges and schools.
Issues of large-scale sexual violence against girls and women.
The lack of women’s participation in the local governance systems.
Rights of sexual minority and the specific issues facing the community of sexual minority, people with disability and sex workers.
Issues related to workers rights, large-scale displacement due to big dams and multinational corporations.
The following creative methods were used to reach the maximum number of people:
Flash mob, Dance, play, games and songs as well as lectures were used to attract and energize the audience as well as to provide the scope for the individuals and groups to express their creativity.
Many multimedia methods were used such as film screenings, making placards, slogans, banners, pledge cards, signature drive, morning patrolling through villages, candle march in the night in villages, letter and essay writings, radio programs. Cultural programs were held for the larger public.
Conducted tribunal with survivors and responsible government and legal functionaries including the Police, and the legal rights upholders.
Conducted gender justice and gender equality sessions with a large group of stakeholders such as the police, school children and college students, holding training session with community, The panchayat leaders, Anganwadi workers, young adolescent groups girls and the media.
The One Billion rising campaign, while being rather young, has gained a worldwide presence. The campaign has immensely contributed to raising awareness and involvement of a large number of individuals, communities as well as the state representatives. These kinds of international campaigns contribute to building solidarity within and outside India, provide a public platform and visibility to the issue of violence against girls and women as a national and international issue to be taken seriously by all. The most valuable contribution of the campaign is the engagement of the youth, especially young men, the ordinary citizens as well extensive outreach to schools and colleges.
This year, Jagori Rural and Sangat are planning to upscale the campaign all over India around the issues of Violence against women and girls and justice and weave the spirit of revolutionary rising within the campaign outreach
14 February, Valentine’s Day, is the symbolic day for the One Billion Rising campaign.
One Billion Rising Revolution 2015 is an escalation of the first two stages of our campaign – One Billion Rising (2013) and One Billion Rising for Justice 2014.
We danced and demanded justice.
Now we demand fundamental and structural CHANGES.