Would You Dance With One Billion Women?

Today I did. I spent my Valentine’s Day dancing with one billion men and women from 200 countries. We dance because we want to see the end to violence against women. Play writer Eve Ensler has invited the world to strike, dance and rise as part of the 15th anniversary for V-Day. One Billion Rising was born because  “one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution.”

On my second day as a YWCA of Adelaide Intern, I sat in on the first meeting for One Billion Rising Adelaide. Event organiser Katrine Hildyard brought likeminded women together to figure out how Adelaide can be part of One Billion Rising. After watching the beautifully moving short film *trigger warning*, we chatted energetically and decided to stick to the three key elements: strike, dance and rise. This Valentine’s Day we did strike by gathering in Rundle Mall with fellow risers; we did dance by inviting on as many people as we coud to unite and did a flashmob dance to “Break the Chain”; and we did rise, together we moved to stop violence against women and their children.

Every time we met to discuss details, practice steps or generally chat about the movement, there was an addictive energy in the room that stayed with me for hours. It’s mesmerising to watch how a small group of enthusiastic and dedicated individuals can find the time and energy to piece together Adelaide’s contribution to One Billion Rising. We’re doing it together, as one strong unit, bouncing around ideas, giving support and generally sharing the buzz of excitement of being part of a worldwide movement. Today we showed Rundle Mall a flash mob they’ve never seen before. We listened to inspirational speakers including White Ribbon Ambassador the Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood, the always moving Khadija Gbla, Auntie Josie and Gail Gago. It was one amazing hour!

I feel very lucky to be involved in coordinating One Billion Rising Adelaide. Not only does YWCA of Adelaide whole-heartedly support the movement, so does Prime Minister Julia Gillard. There are events throughout Australia and of course the world. Individuals have come together to spend their free time practicing the dance, performing in public and sharing why they rise. The reasons may differ from person to person but the passion is the same. It’s time for change.

From Zimbabwe to Singapore, and Pakistan to the Philippines, women, men and children are rising! Some will dance, others will sing, some will rally and others will cheer. At the end of the day, we stand for the same cause, we stand as one, we want violence against women to end.

For me, I’m rising because no woman should ever feel powerless to stand up for herself and for those she loves. I’m rising because no one should steal the innocence of a child. I’m rising because I don’t want my future daughter to ever feel like she deserves less simply for being a girl.

So for this Valentine’s Day I did rise and I did dance. As Constanze says, “dancing is like dreaming with your feet”. That’s how I feel when I dance, I feel light, I feel free and I can’t help but smile with my whole heart. When I do our flash mob dance I can feel the energy rise from within me and I feel unstoppable.

I believe that this is just the beginning. We have the power within us to accomplish change. We are powerful individuals and I can only begin to imagine what we can do when we rise together.

Image by Chelsea Lewis Image by Chelsea Lewis

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