Many of us enjoy the peace and freedom of a violence-free life. But some of us don’t – specifically, one-third of the entire female population on the planet. The statistics are shocking. One out of every three women alive today – that is, one billion women and girls – will experience being beaten or raped during her lifetime. If there are three of us in a room, chances are one of us has been violated by a friend or stranger, disempowered in an act of dominance against her. And acknowledge it or not, the disempowerment of one affects us all.
Ever since Eve Ensler uttered the forbidden word onstage in 1996, her show The Vagina Monologues has been performed countless times in venues large and small, and a dynamic movement to stop violence against women has taken hold worldwide. V-Day was officially launched two years later, having as its mission the raising of funds for women’s anti-violence groups, along with the raising of awareness of the issue, with specific attention being focused on stopping rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sex slavery.
In 2012, over 5,800 V-Day benefit events took place in the US and around the world, produced by volunteer activists to educate millions of people about the dire reality. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $90 million, educated millions of people about the issue, crafted international media campaigns and funded over 14,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in such places as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, Egypt, Iraq and the US.
On the 15th anniversary of that original event, the global movement is escalating and gaining force, with union workers, governmental officials and politicians, celebrities and women and men of all backgrounds coming forward to join the campaign. “One Billion Rising” is the tag. The action is the gathering of like minds to dance together and create the possibility of eliminating endemic violence against women and girls.
In solidarity with anti-violence groups working within their own communities to support and empower women everywhere, the greater Hudson Valley community is invited to join the global day of action on Thursday, February 14.
In Kingston, women and those who love them are encouraged to walk out, dance, rise up and show their support to the cause from 12 noon to 5 p.m. at Backstage Studio Productions (BSP) on Wall Street. After registration at 11 a.m., a short video about the One Billion Rising movement will be screened, along with V-Day Org and Why I Rise.
Coordinated by Zoe Dunn of Hale Advisors, the event will feature speakers addressing the crowd throughout the afternoon on what can be done locally to support, inspire, encourage and empower women, the lineup to include Gwen Wright, executive director of the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence; Washbourne House director Kathy Welby-Moretti; Kingston Police chief Egidio Tinti; commissioner of Social Services Mike Iococca; and congressional representative Chris Gibson, among others. Come enjoy the music and performances of the Energy Dance Company, the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston (POOK) and lots of others. From 4:30 to 5 p.m., participants will be invited to “Break the Chain” by joining the choreographed “One Billion Rising” dance.
In Poughkeepsie, the Grace Smith House, Inc. joins the global campaign by inviting the public to take part in an outdoor flash mob at 12:15 p.m. on Market Street in front of Family Court. The spontaneous choreographed dance will fill the street and bring together people from all walks of life to celebrate their mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, lovers and friends, and to call for an end of violence. No dance experience or special skill is required to participate. If you are not comfortable dancing, there will be signs with statistics that you can hold up to have your voice heard. But if you do want to dance, check out www.onebillionrising.org and watch choreographer Debbie Allen teach “Break the Chain.”
In New Paltz, a One Billion Rising rally will be held on the corner of Main and North Front Streets at 3 p.m. Fre Atlast, a brass band and puppets from the Red Wing Puppet Theatre and others will join a flash mob on the four corners of the intersection. An hour later a dance will be held at the New Paltz Community Center (behind Town Hall on Route 32 North), where locals can connect in spirit and physicality with the millions of others on the planet, rising up to call attention to the injustices that women have suffered or will suffer violently at the hands of another. Sound healer Amy McTear will do a crystal bowl performance to create a safe space, then African dancers and a deejay will lead the festivities until 6 p.m.