Southeast Asian women literally shook the streets in an unconventional celebration of Valentine’s Day on February 14. In Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines, women activists from JASS Southeast Asia (SEA) held simultaneous activities as part of the global One Billion Rising campaign to end violence against women. Thousands of women, men, students and children marched and danced their way through streets to rise up to end violence.
“One Billion Rising was an opportunity to strengthen the movement-building processes that JASS is facilitating. Young women involved with JASS from across the region took advantage of this moment to leverage their relationships with other women to mobilize collective action. Thousands of Southeast Asian women got involved and thousands more were reached and informed about violence against women,” said Nani Zulminarni, JASS SEA Regional Director.
“One Billion Rising was an opportunity to strengthen the movement-building processes that JASS is facilitating.”
In Indonesia, Forum Aktivis Perempuan Muda Indonesia (Indonesian Young Women Activist Forum) joined 800 people – mostly high school students – from Surabaya, East Java province to engage in synchronized dancing. In Cambodia, a three-hour concert was organized by the Cambodian Young Women’s Empowerment Network (CYWEN), which was attended by hundreds of young women. In Burma, JASS activists danced in Yangon which culminated in a dance event at the French Institute of Burma.
In the Philippines, GABRIELA, a national network of grassroots women, led One Billion Rising in 20 major cities around the country. A parade of two thousand women kicked off the main event in Manila, followed by an afternoon of cultural presentations and then an evening of group dancing for the finale.
“When we rise against violence,” explains Emmi de Jesus, Filipino women’s partylist representative in Congress, “we want to show up primarily state-instigated violence — all of the government policies that open the gate for Filipino women to experience different forms of violence.”
In Southeast Asia, where violence against women takes many ugly forms, this campaign helped bring the issue into the spotlight. But more than just a wake up call, the campaign showed the collective power of women’s organizing.
“One Billion Rising has left a distinguished mark on Southeast Asia and across the globe. It undeniably pushed women’s movements a few steps forward, more so now as the campaign against violence intensifies, and the call for justice and gender equality is more pressing,” concludes Zulminarni.