One Billion Rising to End Violence Against Women and Girls
The statistics are staggering. One in three women are raped or beaten in their lifetime. That equates to one billion of the women alive in the world today. Our community will participate in a global movement to end violence against women and girls during Martin County’s sixth annual One Billion Rising for Justice event which will take place on Saturday, February 16, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Gazebo Park in downtown Stuart.
The global movement, founded by poet and playwright Eve Ensler, began on February 14, 2013 when one billion activists in 207 countries and territories came together to hold a series of “risings” – demonstrations, dances, marches and flash mobs - in the biggest mass action in human history to demand an end to violence against women and girls.
The Martin County One Billion Rising chapter was founded by former South Fork High School student Olivia Ranieri in 2013.
“I’m passionate about women’s rights, and violence against women is a pertinent and important issue across the globe. It’s also an issue that women are facing right here in our own community and I wanted to take action locally,” explained Ranieri.
This year’s event is being organized by South Fork students Harseerat Dhillon, Brooke Edwards, Sarah Foster, Morgan O’Neil, and Maddie Onuska and adult supervisors Kim Ballard and Kelly George-Riccardo. Local high schools are coming together for One Billion Rising, with Martin County High School, Jensen Beach High School, and Clark Advanced Learning Center students also taking part in the movement’s mission. Various community organizations, including SafeSpace, Catch the Wave of Hope, the Firefly Group, and Inner Truth Project, are working alongside the students to make the One Billion Rising event a success.
“One Billion Rising has taught me to stand up for what I believe in,” said co-chair Morgan O’Neil. “The community support that we have received already is overwhelming and inspiring. We will come together on February 16 in order to make our voices heard. We are the change.”
The event is free to all and will feature speakers from local organizations. While violence against women is a serious issue, the event itself is fun and celebratory with dancing, performances, and music, as well as other entertainment, inspiring activities, and refreshments.
In preparation for the event, Martin County’s One Billion Rising chapter has started two new campaigns. Students have begun painting rocks to hide across the community to join the Martin County Rocks initiative and will be providing rocks at their annual event for others to paint to spread their own messages of support for the cause. In addition, they have also introduced a #AskMe campaign as a way for people to tell their own stories by posting on social media using the hashtag and wearing buttons and shirts at the event.
This year the event co-chairs especially hope to inspire even more young people in the community to take action against violence towards women and girls. “This event has helped guide my passion for human rights. One Billion Rising creates awareness and most importantly, shows us that we are not alone in our struggles,” explained Harseerat Dhillon, co-chair. “Being a part of this global movement has shown me that you’re never too young to start changing the world.”
In addition to educating and inspiring people of all ages, One Billion Rising’s annual event will be raising money for SafeSpace and the Inner Truth Project. For more information about these nonprofit organizations, visit www.safespacefl.org and www.innertruthproject.org. To learn about the global rise against violence, visit www.onebillionrising.org.
One Billion Rising Martin County is looking for sponsors to help with their mission, and more information about the local event can be found by visiting the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OneBillionRisingMartinCounty or following on Instagram at www.instagram.com/1br_martincounty/.
About One Billion Rising For Justice
ONE BILLION RISING is a global call to women survivors of violence, and those who love them, to gather safely in communities across the globe in outdoor places to draw attention to the issue. It is a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories – politically, spiritually, outrageously --- through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right. For more information on this global movement go to www.onebillionrising.org/ways-to-rise.
Martin County One Billion Rising 2019 Committee Co-Chairs (Top L to R) Sarah Foster, Maddie Onuska, Brooke Edwards, Morgan O’Neil, Harseerat Dhillon