On August 9th, on an extremely warm evening, our dear sister Rada Boric arrived at Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport after a 17-hour long journey.
Rada and I met three years ago at a One Billion Rising (OBR) event. She was kind, funny, brave, energetic and full of life; we became friends instantly. So when she told me she was going to a conference in Japan and would stopover in Shanghai for a few days, I told her: “No, you are not going to Shanghai, you’re coming to Taiwan!” And here she was – transforming inspiration into action, like she always does.
This amazing woman visited our organization, our shelters, and Taiwan’s Human Rights Monuments. She listened to our stories, shared hers, and bridged the cultures of two countries. In her speech “Women in War: The story of feminism in the Balkans”, which was organized for women’s rights activists in Taiwan, she started by saying that the one thing that unites women around the world is unfortunately violence. Regarding post-war history, the conditions for women in Croatia and Taiwan are surprisingly similar. Women have been sexually exploited, displaced, suppressed and destroyed during conflict; and then suffered waiting all their lives for justice that may never come. Even today in Taiwan and Croatia, 1-in-3 women will suffer violence in their lifetime.
However, by bringing these shocking stories to people’s attention, legislation to improve Women’s Rights have been passed and put into practice. It was solidarity that made women – whether they were former comfort women from Japanese World War II army camps, rape survivors from conflicts in the Balkans and the Congo, women migrant workers, refugees, activists, revolutionaries, scholars, politicians, or you and me – stand together to fight for better rights and a better life.
In this sense, Rada’s visit was the epitome of solidarity: it showed us that we face the same ignorance, hold the same values, are fighting for the same goals, and are in the same boat. In that spirit Rada said she would take what she had learned about the struggle of comfort women in Taiwan and share it on her lecture tour of Japan; and the Taiwanese activists who listened to Rada talking about the refugee issue in Europe said they would apply what they had learned into the drafting of Taiwan’s new Refugee Law.
Women worldwide are connected, that is a fact. We listen, we accompany, we understand, and most importantly –we love. That is the essence of the solidarity that will, hopefully one day very soon, finally free the world from all forms of violence.
1 in 3 women across the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. That’s ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. Every February, we rise – in hundreds of countries across the world – to show our local communities and the world what one billion looks like and shine a light on the rampant impunity and injustice that survivors most often face. We rise through dance to express joy and community and celebrate the fact that we have not been defeated by this violence. We rise to show we are determined to create a new kind of consciousness – one where violence will be resisted until it is unthinkable.
This year we are Rising In Solidarity Against the Exploitation of Women. We are initiating a new series, “RISING SOLIDARITY” where we will be sharing stories of extraordinary activists from around the world about their experiences with true solidarity, harnessing a deeper understanding of why it is critical in the fight against systems of oppression and exploitation. Providing both regional and global context for what it means to stand in solidarity with each other.