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 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 for Revolution. We are initiating a new series, “Building to One Billion Rising Revolution” where we will be sharing stories of extraordinary activists who embody the creative radical shift in consciousness required to bring about CHANGE.
Grassroots Activists who fight for justice and liberation with passion and joy.
I was fourteen years old when my mother and grandmother announced that I was going to have my clitoris, my labia majora, and my labia minora cut out. They said if I resisted, I would be a coward. In my culture, the worst thing you can ever be called is a coward. What they did to me next caused me real harm, but it also gave me the cause of my life.
How I Finally Confronted My Abuser, and Found Peace
By Jessica Montoya
Family Specialist at Adelante Program working with homeless families of Santa Fe, NM and Global Coordinator for One Billion Rising Santa Fe
Two years ago, I stood in front of a crowd of thousands of people at the One Billion Rising in Santa Fe, and I told my story. The air was crisp and clean and I felt I didn’t need to eat, or drink – there was enough to nourish me right there, in that crowd of women and men who were preparing to dance. For so long, I had been ashamed of what I had been through. Now I could talk about it, and I had all these people cheering me.
Dance can set you free. It can liberate your body and liberate your mind. That is what I have learned in my own life and that is the lesson I remember while working with women who have been taught through violence to see their bodies as disgusting, shameful, or ruined. Every day I see dance undoing this shame and setting individuals free.
When did I become a feminist? There are lots of moments in every woman’s life that make her stand up for herself and her sisters, and there were many in mine. But the first one that comes to mind is the day I was told I couldn’t take a seat on the bus, simply because I was a woman.
If you saw me in the street, you might recognize me, but I guess you wouldn’t know where from. I’m the person who served up your Happy Meal in McDonald’s. A few years later, I waited on your table at Red Lobster. A few years after that, I brought over your barbeque ribs at Dallas BBQ. Whenever I talk to customers like you, I smile as big as I can, and I say that I hope you have a nice day. I mean it too. But I figure I am writing this to tell you something I wouldn’t tell you over the counter. I want to tell you what life is like for people like me right now – because I am not having a nice day, and if I’m honest, I haven’t been for a really long time now.
This is the story of how a group of women who were shunned and abused and regarded as worthless came together – to transform the laws of their country, and save the lives of many more women like them.
By 2005, I had been working in Mexico for more than a decade with women who were being abused by their partners, when I was invited to a conference in Washington DC. There, I heard about an issue I knew nothing about – something called “human trafficking.” I was told about a sixteen year-old girl who was taken from her country and raped for money every day – and when she escaped, she committed suicide.
I guess to a lot of people, it would have seemed impossible for me and my friends to take part in One Billion Rising. All over the world, a billion women have gone through physical or sexual violence, and every February 14th, we rise up against it, across the planet, to dance. Women do it in almost every country – but I am a Somalian. In my life, I have seen my country go from a peaceful normal place to being physically destroyed and then conquered by extreme fundamentalist militias. It is not an easy place to gather in the streets if you are a man; if you are a woman, it is even more risky. But we were determined to express ourselves.
I Survived Abuse – And It Led Me To Start An Uprising
By Karabo Tshikube
In 2011. During my first year at the Market theatre laboratory (school for performance). I auditioned to be in the South African production of a play called “Emotional Creature” by V (formerly Eve Ensler). I was an angry, bitter child. I was nineteen years old, had no language to describe what had happened to me to make me so angry, so shut down, so broken. My audition was the beginning of a journey that has changed my life. It has led me to discover a way to heal, a way to forgive and a way to dedicate my life to helping other people find healing and Closure. Telling my story was really painful. But I hope by telling it to you, it might help you too.
Out of a Nightmare, I Saw How To Build Joy – and Love
By Rada Boric
Perhaps the hardest lesson we have to learn in life is – nothing is ever safe. Think about the things you take most for granted. The streets where you live. The job you have. The possibility of a future. All these things – they can be revealed as illusions in a heartbeat. I grew up in a safe and stable country in Europe, where I hardly heard people talk about ethnicity, and I didn’t think the term even applied to me.