Today, on V-Day’s 15th Anniversary, I consider why we rise; why the staff at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, why our colleagues at Rutgers University, and why individuals and organizations from around the world chose to rise up and take a stand against gender-based violence as part of ONE BILLION RISING.
Someone asked me the other day how gender-based violence can still be so prevalent and how gender inequality can actually still exist. So, my answer to why I rise is simple; the fact that someone needed to ask me that question in the first place.
Gender-based violence is any form of violence that occurs because of an individual’s perceived or actual gender, gender-identity, sexual orientation, or lack of conformity to one of the aforementioned. Therefore, as we rise to end gender-based violence let us remember why we are rising. We need to acknowledge the violence that occurs every day all over the world.
We are rising for the women attacked because they do not conform to society’s understanding of what it means to be a woman, for those targeted for not fitting in to the gender-norms, for the individuals harassed because they identify within the LGBTQ community, to those raped as a way to maintain the patriarchal power dynamic, for the millions of individuals denied access to safe and affordable reproductive healthcare. For the women human rights defenders who become enemies of their own government, for the one in five college women raped during their time in college, for every member of the queer community who has ever experienced repercussions for coming out, for every individual who ever said “no” and was not listened to. For every survivor who has spoken out, and for the others who felt they could not.
As we work to end gender-based violence, we must remember all that violence encompasses; the psychological, verbal, sexual, and physical assault that occurs on a daily basis. For all the reasons above, and a million more, it is necessary that we rise up and take a stand, that we pledge, together, to work for a more just and peaceful world. I rise because every individual has a basic human right to live free of fear, to not worry about walking down the street alone, to feel that saying “no” is enough, to be who they are without concern of societal repercussions. I rise because I am tired of being told, by my own government, that I am worth less as a woman, that my body is not mine to own, that my identity as queer makes me a legitimate target for discrimination.
I rise because the only way to create lasting change is by standing up and standing together.
by Alex Anastasia, Administrative Assistant, Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Rutgers University