Filipino women gear up for ‘One Billion Rising Revolution’

September 19, 2014

One Billion Rising Revolution is the next phase in the global campaign to end violence against women. PinoyMedia Center

One Billion Rising Revolution is the next phase in the global campaign to end violence against women. PinoyMedia Center

In five months, the world will be expecting women to rise and dance in unison once more as One Billion Rising (OBR) launched the third phase of its global campaign to end violence against women (VAW), dubbed as “One Billion Rising Revolution.”

After two years of resounding success of the OBR as a form of protest, the OBR for 2015 will escalate its call from “justice” to “revolution,” as cases of VAW across the globe continues to ascend at an alarming scale.

In 2013, the first One Billion Rising came about as a response to the global statistics that one out of three women in the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.

“That has not changed. In fact, I think from hearing stories from all our activists around the world, it’s probably even worse now… [But] in reality that’s only the reported cases. Because if you take into consideration yung mga hindi nare-report (unreported cases) around the world, the statistics are even graver than that,” said Monique Wilson, global director of OBR, in a press conference last September 15.

‘Rise for Revolution’ in 2015

Ms. Monique Wilson as she explains the One Billion Rising for 2015.Macky Macaspac

Monique Wilson as she explains One Billion Rising Revolution. Macky Macaspac

Around 200 countries joined this year’s OBR for Justice, led by thousands of women, mostly from grassroots organizations.

Wilson shared that the “Rise for Justice” campaign “deepened the understanding of the issue of violence against women.”

“We could not anymore tackle ending violence against women unless we looked at neo-liberal policies that are affecting many countries in the world; unless we looked at issues like militarization; unless we looked at issues like foreign intervention; unless we looked at issues of exploitation that also perpetuate economic violence towards women,” according to Wilson.

This deeper understanding, she said, made OBR coordinators and participants around the world see that there is a need for a “revolution.”

“Why revolution?…Because the rampant impunity that’s going on is so entrenched as we see not just here in the Philippines, but in countries all over the world. It’s state instigated. It’s policy instigated. It’s instigated and kept in place by neo-liberal policies,” Wilson said.

Wilson described “revolution” as “system change,” “making perpetrators and governments accountable,” and also a “change within individuals.”

She however clarified that for One Billion Rising Revolution, women in different communities and countries are free to define what “revolution” means to them, and to engage in any artistic and radical form of protest that they see fit.

Philippines rising ‘against corruption’

In the Philippine context, there is an increase in the number of VAW cases that have been documented within the past few years by the women’s group Gabriela, which spearheads OBR Philippines.

Last year, Gabriela recorded 606 cases in just nine months, up from the 459 documented VAW cases in 2011.

According to Montes, national statistics corroborate the rise in VAW cases. “This year, a girl or a woman is being beaten every 31 minutes in 2014, compared to every two hours the year before. There is also one rape victim every 1 hour and 21 minutes, compared to every 1 hour and 30 minutes in 2013,” she said.

“One of the indicators we consider in the increase (of the reports) is the breaking of silence of women since the journey of OBR. But it must not end in breaking their silence, it must transcend to their struggle for justice,” Obet Montes, Gabriela deputy secretary general, said in Filipino.

Meanwhile, according to Joms Salvador, Gabriela secretary general, it is clear that the cases of VAW increase as poverty and corruption worsens. “That is corruption of values, corruption of the way women and the people are treated, and of course, corruption that is deeply entrenched in governance,” she said.

OBR Philippines will focus on rising against corruption and for "system change." PinoyMedia Center

OBR Philippines will focus on rising against corruption and for “system change.” PinoyMedia Center

Salvador hit the Aquino administration, which is embroiled in the pork barrel scandal. “Public money goes to the pockets of the powerful few instead of going directly to public services and to women,” she said.

Last September 12, women gathered to protest and dance at the Bonifacio Shrine in Manila, in an occasion to gather signatures for the people’s initiative against pork barrel.

Wilson and Gabriela leaders said that more “risings” by women in communities and other public places could be expected in the coming months, leading up to the main “Global Rising for Revolution” on February 14, 2015.