Local women's organizations hold 'One Billion Rising' event
Program advocates against exploitation, abuse
Four Charlottesville-based women’s groups organized a “One Billion Rising” event at IX Art Park Tuesday to advocate against the exploitation of women worldwide. The Women’s Initiative, the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Shelter for Help in Emergency both planned and sponsored the event, which featured performances from a number of local musical acts, including the Charlottesville Women’s Choir and Erin and the Wildfire.
“One Billion Rising” — initiated by a global coalition of the same name — derives its title from a World Health Organization statistic that one in three women across the planet have suffered physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime.
Amanda Korman, communications and outreach coordinator for The Women’s Initiative, said while the event was inspired by a global campaign, it was nonetheless constructed at an entirely local level.
“It is designed to be locally organized, so the central ‘One Billion Rising’ event gives you the tools to put on your own ‘One Billion Rising’ event,” Korman said. “So, it is totally a local event put on by local organizations, but we’re a part of a movement.”
Korman said the event would be positive and celebratory of women.
“I think that we’re seeing a lot of wonderful support for women and women supporting each other,” she said. “We’re glad to be putting on an event that’s going to create a space where women’s voices are celebrated and honored.”
Acknowledging the current political climate, Korman said the concept of a politically inclusive environment was praiseworthy.
“What is great about One Billion Rising is, whatever your political affiliation, whatever you think of what’s going on in the country right now, people feel divided and so having a reason to come together and celebrate women and celebrate women’s voices, we’re all really looking forward to that,” Korman said.
Sara Medina-DeVilliers, a SARA volunteer and graduate College student, said the event may be one way to bring the University and Charlottesville community together.
“I feel that, particularly as a graduate student, I’m seeing two sides of Charlottesville — the University and the outside community,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like they’re two polar opposites, so it’s nice to have ways to bridge the gap between them and I feel like this could possibly be one of them.”
In terms of age, the event drew a diverse crowd, from high school students to elderly members of the community. Attendee Steve McNerney said he decided to attend the gathering to support oppressed women.
“I have a heart for marginalization, oppression and injustice,” McNerney said. “I think that many people, when they think of the marginalized, think about the kids in the inner city or homeless people. But women sometimes get lost in that equation because so many of them are part of the status quo — the middle class and the upper class — when in fact there is still a glass ceiling.”