One billion women scattered around the world, step out on the streets to dance, claim space for themselves and assert their right to be free from abuse — this is the global revolution that American activist and playwright Eve Ensler aims to achieve on February 14, as part of her project One Billion Rising.
Ensler — known worldwide as the author of The Vagina Monologues — is in Mumbai this week to campaign for the project and will talk about it at a special Hindi performance of the play based on her book at The Comedy Store on January 6.
The One Billion Rising movement will be celebrated on the 15th anniversary of V-Day, an international organisation founded by Ensler on February 14, 1998, to end violence against women.
“In 15 years, V-Day has helped change laws, make new ones and seen many victories, but the violence has not ended,” said Ensler, who perceives One Billion Rising as a large-scale intervention to get women, and men who support them, to assert they will not endure any more violence.
“We chose dance as a means of expression because it is communal, contagious and takes up space.”
Ensler chose the figure of one billion because the United Nations estimates that one out of every three women in the world will be raped or beaten in her lifetime — nearly one-sixth of the world’s population. So far, women’s rights organisations from 179 countries have pledged to participate.
Ensler believes that this movement will strike a chord with people in India, in the wake of the outrage against the Delhi gang rape.
“This is a catalytic moment in India. The fire against violence is spreading,” said Ensler.
This weekend, Ensler and Poor Box Productions — which has produced the Indian versions of The Vagina Monologues — will organise a college rally, a meeting with 60 NGOs and a special staging of the play.