In the last five years of One Billion Rising, youth from all over the world – rose in the streets, in schools, in communities, creating some of the most creative and radical artistic risings, including a huge escalating creative resistance presence on social media – utilized for outreach, mobilization and engagement. For OBR 2017, the energy continuing to emerge from the youth sector is bold, inspired and audacious.
2017 Youth Rising actions included:
– Rising to end rape and sexual assault on campuses
– Rising to end objectification and stereotyping of women and girls
– Rising to end domestic violence and parental neglect and abuse
– Rising for the right to education
– Rising to end commercialization of education
– Rising to end slut shaming, bullying and sexism
– Rising to end misogyny
– Rising to end sexual harassment in public and at schools
– Rising to end sex trafficking
– Rising to end forced prostitution for education
– Rising for women’s reproductive healthcare and rights
– Rising for LGBTQ rights
– Rising to end poverty that enables exploitation of girls
– Rising for the conservation and protection of the environment and the insurance of their future
– Rising for jobs for new graduates
– Rising for the defense and recognition of human rights
– Rising for refugees
We saw youth defiantly demanding an end to all forms of physical and sexual violence, and fearlessly claiming their right to have young women’s voices heard. Through OBR we saw young people all over the world boldly proclaiming their right to a future free of violence, discrimination and inequality. Youth Risings around the world saw youth much more actively engaged in community organizing – and OBR 2017 gave young people opportunities to focus their Risings on specific youth related issues affecting their daily lives. While many Risings centered around physical and sexual violence on campuses and the right to education in past years, this year saw youth Risings also going deeper into the issues of economic exploitation, poverty and capitalism, gender, race and class inequality and discrimination, xenophobia, misogyny, fascism, state repression and brutality, wars and refugee rights, climate change and the protection of the environment.
Youth Risings mobilized and organized youth organizations and schools and a larger number of youth activists this year than we have seen in past years, to advocate for the political and economic rights of girls and their interests. The Risings – led, organized and determined by the youth – also dynamically expressed the realization of the role of the youth as powerful voices and hope for the future, young women and men who are decisively taking part in the struggle to end violence against women and girls and LGBTQ youth. Their vigor showcased their stand as a truly powerful force for social change. It broke the perception and assumption that the youth are passive, removed and apathetic. The Youth Eisings – with their imaginative, energetic and dynamic fusion of creativity, politics and social media – highlighted youth’s demand for an alternative politics of change. And like the Workers Risings and Community Risings, youth highlighted that only through collective rising and solidarity can the equitable, democratic, dignified rights of women and girls be achieved. Now, more than ever, we are seeing youth also take a radical stand against the dominant politics and unjust systems that favors the ruling elite, against governments, against corporations that they see as major obstructions to their rights and future. The youth Risings saw a bigger demand for social and political changes that favor the majority, and for social changes that have direct impact on their future.
OBR 2017 also saw the creative disruptive rebellion of youth as they expressed, with the fearless and fiercest persistence and incredible bravery, their vision for their future – a future where girls can thrive, have choices and fulfill all their aspirations to the full. We saw a self-organized outpouring of artistic expressions – poetry, dances, songs, theatre, spoken word, music – created by young people all over the world as they rose to demand revolutionary changes within their cultures and societies, and their right to grow up free of violence.
The youth Risings were wildly and creatively diverse, as they were radical. The OBR Youth Revolution is an artistic political movement onto itself – determined and led by young women – outspoken, courageous, unafraid, political, creative, tech savvy, current and forward thinking, bringing an exciting layer of One Billion Rising boldly into the future.
HIGHLIGHTS OF GLOBAL YOUTH RISINGS:
Among the many OBR Afghanistan events, hundreds of young girls from Kabul held a creative Rising event with girls reading poetry and performing a play about violence against girls in Afghan society. A rap song by young boys about the kinds of violations Afghan girls face, and a call followed this to all the boys in the audience to check their own behavior and privilege. At the end of the event, the audience took a resolution to work on the issues of violence against girls to help eliminate violence towards girls in all areas. Before the event, a group of mostly young women bicyclists cycled a distance of four to five kilometers wearing orange scarves as part of their Rising. Riding a bicycle is considered to be something only men do in Afghanistan.
Young volunteer activists took over most of the organizing, envisioning and coordinating the OBR Bangladesh events this year. For the first time in the five years of OBR Bangladesh at the main Dhaka event, a young group of activists who have started an online service, became resource people giving advice on reproductive rights, and on help and care for women and girls. The young activist group was inundated with queries for advice and guidance on ending violence from the event, so they have now linked up with lawyers, psycho- social therapists and psychiatrists. They had already been working with doctors and trained reproductive health workers. The group has enormous reach online – over 300,000. Having this group called Maya Apa (translates into “Caring Sister) was an added bonus in bringing new faces and people into OBR Bangladesh 2017.
OBR Cameroon used hymn and choreography led by the youth to spread the OBR message. A remix of “Break The Chain” with French translation of the lyrics served as an anthem of OBR Cameroon associated with choreography that was created and presented by dozens of students of the University of Doula and Yaounde. A best and most creative and political OBR poster campaign was also held and spearheaded by the students.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
A huge part of the Congo Rising was the vast participation of children and their issues as a major focus. Led by the children themselves, the youth Risings were firmly focused on solidarity and revolution. Children stood on stage and rose against the forms of violence they experience in their homes. Some went further and also denounced violence against the environment. Some of the forms of violence the children denounced were the different forms of physical violence their parents had done to them as punishment. Children also denounced emotional and verbal harm they experience from adults and parents, public and private humiliation and shaming, and neglect and abandonment from their parents. They rose to demand for care, love, ample food, appropriate clothing and shelter, guidance and supervision, adequate hygiene and proper medical care. The children raised a visible look into a system in which parents do not care about their children. In reaction to this, residents of City of Joy made a vow to put the experience and all the benefits of OBR into practice and will invite other parents in their communities to do the same, and to rise for all the rights of children.
Through the work of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) who carried OBR throughout many countries in Europe, a strong participation from the EWL network Youth4Abolition took focus. The youth network rose to escalate and amplify their work on raising awareness on ending prostitution from a youth perspective, and they also came up with a huge variety of creative ideas using hashtags, slogans , art and social media. Youth4Abolition is a European-wide network of youth organizations dedicated to tackling prostitution and sexual exploitation of the youth.
Youth Risings took over the whole nation with an amazing sense of energy, talent and creativity. Risings to end all forms of sexual violence, abuse, discrimination and harassment continued. The most extensive energy and radical will, as well as the loudest display of public presence, came from schools and college students from across the country, who led colorful risings in their communities using dance, music, poetry and art. Examples include introducing a “Girl’s Manifesto” for election season in Maharashtra and Gujarat. In Chandigarh, school girls rescripted Bollywood songs and performed gender sensitization skits. In Madhya Pradesh, their OBR focus was “Save The Girl Child, Educate The Girl Child”. In Mumbai, youth risers challenged sexist Bollywood lyrics. In the Kangra district, Himalayan girls and boys used innovative interactive forum theatre, drumming and dancing to explore issues of gender equality. Young women and girls all across India, through OBR, participated in the “I Will Go Out” campaign to claim their right to go out on the roads and cities without being harassed and violated.
Out of the more than 170 Risings across Italy, majority were schools and sports associations led by the Italian youth. Because of the escalating number of schools and sports associations joining OBR, there was a visible increase in the number of male participants in all OBR events across the country.
Across Latin American countries such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile, Colombia – the Youth Revolution stood out with many Rising dance events taking place in numerous schools across these countries. OBR was used to highlight the right of girls to education, as well as highlighting sexual abuse happening in schools. The young people led the OBR campaigns, fusing OBR dancing for education for girls, and for girl empowerment.
OBR Mexico included thousands of schools joining the Risings – where discussions were also held on how to recognize and combat human trafficking. These involved peer–to-peer discussions facilitated by OBR organizers in schools, where young girls and boys talk to fellow girls and boys about human trafficking, and where OBR dancing was a creative way to empower young people to be actively engaged in the fight to end all forms of human trafficking which is a huge problem in Mexico. Rising to end human trafficking has been the main focus since OBR Mexico began five years ago. This year the federal government supported Mexico in allowing their reach to include even elementary schools all across the country to be part of the OBR dance protest.
Young performing arts students from the Fonty’s Performing Arts Academy in Tilburg, Netherlands, performed their original OBR song and dance for the fourth consecutive year to huge success. They danced, not only inside their school, but also in the main city square, and received much public and media attention for their Rising energy and creativity.
The One Billion Rising Philippine task force team involved a huge youth sector that initiated and implemented there own Rising campaigns and events around the country. Led by Gabriela Youth, Salinlahi Children’s group, Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (ARCSEA),among many other youth organizations– the youth sector and youth leaders mobilized hundreds of schools and colleges around the country in their own issue based “Rise Against Solidarity and Exploitation” campaign. They rose against the government to demand greater budget for the education sector, against social injustices that do not enable their parents to pay their tuition fees, and against militarization, as schools in some parts of the country continue to be occupied by military forces – particularly for indigenous youth. Youth also rose against lack of facilities in school, against tuition fee hikes, against the delayed salaries of their teachers, and against sexual harassment in schools. They rose against sexual exploitation of children and against poverty, taking the government to task for their economic exploitation of the people that forces thousands of young girls into prostitution each year, just to be able to continue going to school. They marched and danced within their campuses highlighting their demands, and conducted local activities and awareness drives such as education forums, discussions on VAW and exploitation in the youth context, community outreach, and build-up flash mobs to drumbeat their bigger activities on February 14th.
Youth Risings across the US included campus risings to end sexual harassment and sexual abuse in colleges. This year also saw youth risings across universities who continue to do hundreds of productions of “The Vagina Monologues” and who spread the V-Day movement into OBR. Like in past years through V-Day, students at colleges and universities across all 50 states of the U.S. rose to stop sexual assault on campuses and to hold administrations accountable to properly prevent or adequately respond to the needs of the college survivors. This year campus youth risings have leveraged V-Day’s 16-year history at schools across the nation, which has contributed to what is now a widespread dialogue about reforming campus sexual assault policies and ending impunity in these spaces.
Youth across the country also took their risings outside campuses – rising for women’s reproductive rights, rising to end dating violence, the demand to end all forms of sexism and misogyny, rising for climate change and its effects on women and families, rising for LGBTQ rights, rising for refugees – as well as rising to Get Out The Vote. US Youth risings also saw the demand to end human and sex trafficking in particular of the youth sector, as well as the harnessing of an escalating galvanized political will and activism with creativity.
The Swaziland youth held an original OBR song competition participated in by schools and youth groups. The winning song was used as the anthem for OBR Swaziland 2017, and was utilized by the campaign to engage fellow youth and other sectors via live performances, and on radio and other forms of media. The song, with its original dance, was also used as a way to teach solidarity to children and women. The song and choreography was uniquely designed for this initiative.
Young girls in Zimbabwe used sports to amplify their OBR message – using sports to send a message on how it can be used to strengthen assertiveness in the lives of girls to speak out and voice any form of exploitation. The use of sports in schools with young girls was also utilized to divert the attention from the government who were not giving police clearance for the OBR event. Every year OBR Zimbabwe employs artistic uprisings, and this year was unique because young girls joined the dance movement, engaging, not only in sports, but also in poetry, song and dance to Rise for their rights.