According to the World Health Organization, one out of every three women will experience physical or sexual violence during her lifetime. On a global scale, this statistic means that one billion women will suffer from gender violence. One billion women, one billion people, will be subjected to rape, mutilation, battery, or murder.
Haunted by this global epidemic, Eve Ensler, author of "The Vagina Monologues" and founder of V-day, began the "One Billion Rising" movement in the hopes of dragging violence against women out of the shadows and into the light of day. Inspired by the powerful female dancers she met in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ensler chose dance as a universal medium by which to spread the message of equality and liberation.
The campaign launched in 2013 with hundreds of communities across 207 countries participating in a global protest against the injustices women face. Says Ensler, "Each year people decide in their own communities what injustice they want to rise for."
The success of the 2013 rising led to the creation of Eve Ensler and Tony Stroebel's short film "One Billion Rising," a visual testament to what can be accomplished if all the world unites. Screened at Park City High School during Sundance, the short combines uplifting footage of humans of all ages from different places marching, chanting, and dancing.
While focused on the empowerment of women, "One Billion Rising" hopes to involve men as well as key players in the fight for respect and equality, engaging "one billion women and all the men who love them." "We are very happy to see so many men rising with us and understanding violence against women isn't a woman's issue. If men don't rise up to protect their mothers and sisters, we will never end the violence," said Ensler.
Park City has been involved with Ensler's work for close to a decade through annual performances of "The Vagina Monologues" that raises money for the Peace House, a local shelter for people who are experiencing domestic violence. With the second year of "One Billion Rising" also comes the second year in which Parkites will have the opportunity to dance.
Last year, local Parkites gathered at the Town Lift Plaza. This year's event will take place at the plaza in front of Park City High School, providing high schoolers with the opportunity to join in the festivities.
According to Eccles center director and event organizer Teri Orr, "There's a great deal of violence towards women in Summit County. There are a lot of quiet victims and any time we shine a light in dark corners it helps people move out of them."
Although there will be no fee to participate, Orr is hopeful that the event will result in direct donations to the Peace House. She added, for the sake of maximum inclusion, there will be no choreography, just a "free-form joyous celebration."
"Last year we had over 50 men and women, we'd love to double it this year," she said.
The public is invited to join Park City's celebration of "One Billion Rising" this Friday, Feb. 14 at noon in front of Park City High School, 1750 Kearns Boulevard.