ONE BILLION RISING REVOLUTION 2016
The 2016 One Billion Rising Revolution event is yet another amplification of our voices, building the momentum, escalating the gains, calling for accountability and raising our voices to the injustices taking place worldwide with women’s bodies targeted as the arena of war and violence. The 2016 revolution is a call for action all over the world, to “Listen! Act! Rise!” as the tagline. It is about building global solidarity and support to Enlarge! Deepen! Expand and Revolutionize our engagements with global patriarchies who are bonding with each other to wage a war on women’s bodies.
In 2015, the theme for the ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE, with the tagline “Drum, Dance & Rise,” was a call to focus on revolution and change as an escalation of our demands to end violence against women and girls once and for all. In 2015, the West Africa Region was faced with an unprecedented circumstance of an epidemic of Ebola a deadly and contagious virus that has its toll on the population. Our efforts have improved the situation in the region as the decision makers have responded to our call and global activism. This is possible because of the concerted efforts made on various platforms amplifying the voices of those affected. The region is also faced with the resurgence of religious fundamentalisms and in the name of religion young girls and women are violated and abused. The Boko Haram campaign was #BringBackOurGirls! Some of the abducted girls were released with unwanted pregnancies and traumatized by the abuses they faced on a daily basis. Providing them with their basic needs is proving a nightmare for women’s right organizations. I warn you the atrocities are escalating with BOKO HARAM on a daily basis as women and children are abused.
As indicated by the Human Rights Council thus;
“The atrocities committed by Boko Haram have had a critical impact on the human rights situation in Nigeria and at the borders with its neighboring countries in the Lake Chad Basin, namely Cameroon, Chad and Niger”, said UN Human Rights Chief Zeid.
By the time we come to the One Billion Rising 2016, the atrocities would have escalated phenomenally beyond borders and in various degrees from Cape to Cairo in Africa, The Gulf, Asia, Europe and beyond. We can no-longer act in isolation but to galvanize our energies in various forms and shapes to cry out loud. We have to call on people to rise for others and not just for ourselves, to get people of privilege and access to power, to rise for those who do not have the opportunity to raise their voices and bring national and international focus on their issues.
The actions of the axis of evil Boko-Haram, Al-Shabab, ISIS are committing atrocities against women all justified in the name of religion and greed for power.
Let us all take leadership in our various contexts and regions to escalate, amplify our voices and revolutionize our campaigns beyond our borders to save our sisters in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Congo, Nigeria, Mali, Afganistan and many others around the globe. The migrants who are facing difficulties trying to flee conflicts and abuses are all voices that we need to raise. The mass exodus of young able bodied people searching for better life despite the dangers they face should trigger our conscience to think twice and be introspective of why this is happening. Our leaders must interrogate their conscience, hearts and minds to search for the answers.
ONE BILLION RISING REVOLUTION is an energy, a platform, a global movement, a catalyst, a worldwide decision to end violence against women, a demand for justice, a paradigm shift, an invitation, a gathering of the ready, housed everywhere, housed in our hearts and bodies, thus makes it your REVOLUTION, our REVOLUTION for all of us.
I urge you in your various regions, groups and organizations to engage constructively with the One Billion Rising Revolution 2016 campaign and join our sisters in Syria facing “Countless atrocities and discrimination. Join our Nigerian sisters to curb the atrocities of BOKO HARAM where more children, women and men have been abducted, abused and forcibly recruited; and women and girls have been targeted for particularly horrific abuse, including sexual enslavement,” Zeid added. “Villages and towns have been looted and destroyed… and Boko Haram attacks have destroyed or severely damaged at least 300 schools, killed numerous students, and ended with the abduction of hundreds of school girls.” These girls have been reported to be pregnant with very little support to help them. We need to Listen! Act! Rise for them and ourselves!
In Sierra Leone, La Guinea and Liberia the Ebola epidemic took its toll on the population with thousands of women, men and children left dead. The effects of Ebola resulted in stereotypes resulting to negative effects on the population. The population is restricted from traveling. Let us express their agency and join them in their campaigns to enlarge, expand, deepen, and revolutionize their campaign.
Of course the debate on sexual and reproductive rights is still a challenge for the post 2015 development agenda and women’s rights activists have been engaged in engendering the UN development agenda to take exclusive regards to the SRHR issues which tend to be given a second class attention. Let us amplify our voices and call on others to support the cause of 50% of the world’s population.
Closer to home in the Gambia, girls and women continue to face various forms of violence enforced in the name of deep rooted cultural practices wrongly misconstrued as religious practices. There is engagement to deepen knowledge, which has enlarged the constituency of the Ex- Circumcisers into a movement to end violence against women in their various regions across The Gambia. It is time to Listen! Act! Rise for Justice and Revolutionize our campaigns to protect girls and women from the harmful effects of Female Genital Mutilation through legislation and enactment of the law for Minimum Age of Marriage. Whose Bodies Matter? Girls have the right to grow to be women before taking responsibilities of marriage. This cannot happen without women taking leadership in the protection and promotion of the human rights of girls and women. We must rise against Gender Based Violence and rise for the voiceless along with men who care. The clitoris is a normal organ that needs to be intact and must not be subjected to any harm. Raise your voices for the innocent girls!
La Lutta Continua!!!
Dr. Isatou Touray
One Billion Rising Regional Coordinator and Executive Director, GAMCOTRAP