Thursday, February 14, 2013

UIS joins global "One Billion Rising" campaign to stop violence against women and girls



University of Illinois Springfield students and staff joined with activists around the world on February 14, 2013 to dance as part of "One Billion Rising" campaign. The global day of action was aimed at ending violence against women and girls.

“One Billion Rising” began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls.

UIS graduate student Nafia Khan has family members from Pakistan and has heard stories about the abuse women sometimes face. The “One Billion Rising” campaign is very close to her heart.

“I felt like it was my civilian duty as an American, who has the rights and abilities to speak up for those who aren’t able to speak up for themselves,” said Khan. “I felt very personally obligated today to participate.”

Junior Legal Studies major Olivia Sykes helped to coordinate the dance and hopes that women walk away with a sense of empowerment.

“It feels liberating and a sense of pride to be a woman,” said Sykes. “Many women around the world are together and they’re rising together and it just shows unity.”

The UIS Women’s Center coordinated the events with the help of both women and men on campus.

“I didn’t want to leave our wonderful young men out,” said Lynn Otterson, UIS Women’s Center director.

UIS Resident Hall Director Zach Berillo helped create a pledge for men to sign based on the promise of anti-violence and respect towards women.

Organizers realize that a single dance will not end violence against women, but they hope it raises awareness about the issue of women’s violence.

“Women are our future,” said Heidi Bruce, a UIS graduate student. “We populate the earth, we teach, we love, we nurture. I really think protecting women’s rights is a really important thing.”

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