Ah, Valentine’s Day. Every year we look forward to it, and for this Valentine’s we even created Candles of Affection with sayings like “kiss me”, “crazy 4 you”, and “ooh la la.” It’s silly and it’s fun.
But here’s the thing. Ever since Eve Ensler started One Billion Rising as part of her V-Day movement to end violence against women and girls, we’ve felt conflicted about this holiday. We love it, but raising awareness about the global abuse and exploitation of females is more important.
Eve established V-Day in 1998 to use performances of her play The Vagina Monologues to raise money to benefit female victims of violence and sexual abuse. The “V” stands for victory, valentine and vagina. One Billion Rising was launched in 2012 as a campaign to raise awareness and culminated in the largest ever global action to end violence against women. The “billion” refers to the UN statistic that one in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, or about one billion.
It is atrocious that half the world’s population is abused this way. We’ve traveled, we’ve seen things, we’ve listened to women tell their stories. We’ve read articles and watched films, made donations and written posts. It’s hard to to think about flowers and chocolates when there are serious causes to fight for on behalf of women around the world – especially those without a voice.
But what we appreciate so much about One Billion Rising is its positive energy and inclusiveness. There is a great song by Tena Clark, awesome dancing, and lots of men involved. It’s about creating solidarity. Every year millions of people gather at events in every country to share stories, confirm their commitment to end all types of violence against women and girls, and join together in exuberant dance.
If you haven’t seen a One Billion Rising video, check them out below. It’s powerful.
Women deserve dignity, respect and equality. No one should be exploited by anyone, anywhere. Everyone should have the opportunity to thrive. Perhaps it’s naive to think that such a simple statement can change anything, but to us it matters. And we will keep saying it over and over again.
This Valentine’s Day we will rise for women’s equality, safety and freedom. What will you rise for?