The 14th of February shall forever be a highlight of my personal calendar as a feminist and also in the history of the women’s movement in Zimbabwe. Tracing the experience of coordinating OBR and actually rising and dancing along with other critical stakeholders, I am proud to say that, I think we have come of age in fighting violence against women from a global perspective. My hope for the eradication of Violence against women has also come alive because of the efforts which were made by Zimbabweans to come together to rise and put the issue of violence against women on the agenda by explicitly embracing dance as a practical, relevant and elementary form of breaking the cycle of violence against women and more importantly women breaking free.
One Billion Rising made me reflect on four important aspects which I felt were critical for the global movement campaign and which ultimately contributed to making it a victory in the wholeness of the full campaign from the time it started. From a Zimbabwean perspective, of worthy to note were the following four key aspects which I believe made OBR a great and interactive space for protest for such an issue.
The Call to the Statistic
Planning for the event involved a lot of work in terms of getting word out on the campaign and almost always, the question that came out was, “Why a Billion and not any other figure?’’. In a bid to share the significance of the call to the statistic that I in 3billion women are likely to suffer some form of violence in their lifetime, I realized through the response of most people that the statistic was the core influencing factor on the campaign. Whilst this reflection may seem obvious, it projected seriousness in response to the One Billion Rising as a campaign and also a brand to which people wanted to respond to and incline to commit to at least reduce the statistic or to totally eradicate it.
Getting people on board to dance and rise with assured me of the life that was within the campaign. The people who danced at the OBR event in Zimbabwe women and men – gave a reflection of the dedication which should be hinged on in the spirit of OBR beyond the event we had. The concept of getting buy in was immensely critical in building leverage and support from diverse stakeholders. For the event in Zimbabwe, we just put word out that there was a rising and no official invites were sent out but dignitaries, government officials, artists, activists , ordinary citizens and the media turned up on their own realising the significance of such a call. The flash mob pushed me to reflect and review a lot of the bureaucratic processes we sometimes go through to get to fight and engage leaders on VAW yet inwardly when confronted with real response and protest they found themselves acting to the call of OBR without respect for protocol. This anchored my belief in the need to create relevant action always to create safe spaces for women in the world to which people can actually respond to easily. Dance became my safe space of expression!!!
The Action – the Dance
The dance itself was the greatest expression for our activity in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe had an array of dances and drums thus retaining a greater part of who we are in the rising. This was important for me in particular as violence against women in my country is entrenched mostly in patriarchal attitudes and harmful cultural practices. Therefore, and the type of music created for event had to confront all of that and for me this shaped ideas for future protest and intervention as we work on further breaking free from violence beyond the 14th of February 2013.
Dancing and drumming for the women of Zimbabwe..
Victory for me has been projected mostly in my personal space. As I danced on the day I came to appreciate the significance of gathering in numbers for such a revolutionary cause. At the end of it all, I wanted more of the experience I got from the event which was a mutual feeling amongst most of the people who participated in it. Having people inquiring inquiring on whether OBR would be an annual event was a source of inspiration. This assured me that the impact of our rising and any efforts related to it had reached the people. For me, that was my ultimate point of victory, to have people asking for more of OBR and recognising the relevance of the action for the women of the world. This indication of hyped momentum should therefore be hinged on in this fight. Now I more confident than ever, that violence against women can be a thing of the past. It’s just a matter of more dancing and breaking free.
Nyasha Sengayi..rising for Zimbabwe