Hundreds of people gathered at Daley Plaza on Thursday afternoon in downtown Chicago to stand up against gender-based violence and dance toward a revolution as a part of the global “One Billion Rising” campaign.
“One Billion Rising is not just about today, and it’s not just about us,” said Sharmili Majmudar, executive director of Rape Victim Advocates in Chicago. “It is us. We’re the ones who are going to make a difference in gender-based violence.”
Statistics show that 1 in every 3 women will be a victim of abuse in her lifetime. With the world population over seven billion people, that means that more than one billion women will be beaten or raped in her lifetime. The “One Billion Rising” campaign was created in hopes of putting an end to this.
“One Billion Rising” is an international campaign developed in honor of the 15th anniversary of V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations.
“Lives are being risked all over today,” said Sylvia Berquist, one of the women attending the rally. “Least I can do is dance.”
The dance rally at Daley Plaza kicked off at noon with a giant flash mob dancing to the song “Break the Chain,” originally written by Tena Clark. The choreography was posted online prior to the event so anyone who wished to participate could learn the dance.
Why dancing? According to Eve Ensler, founder of V-Day and writer of “The Vagina Monologues,” dancing “insists we take up space, and though it has no set direction, we go there together.” She says it pushes us to go further and that is why it’s at the center of “One Billion Rising.”
Local organizations that advocate for women, including Rape Victim Advocates, Deborah’s Place, A Long Walk Home and the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, participated in the rally, handing out valentines with information and free scarves and information.
The rally in Chicago was also a platform for those against LGBTQ violence. Co-Founder of Bisexual Queer Alliance Chicago Michael Oboza said, “Most bisexuals are feminists because we understand what it’s like not to be heard.”
After the rally at Daley Plaza ended, a large group of people marched to the River East Arts Center to continue the dance party from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
People participated in the “One Billion Rising campaign” in 202 different countries around the world. Organizers aired live streams of the movement at onebillionrising.org.
“There is so much that you can do,” Majmudar said. “You are powerful, and you are beautiful.”
Kacy Hintz, Megan Ammer and Maddie Reynolds contributed to this story.