As part of a global movement to reduce violence against women, the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (NEVR) hosted the annual One Billion Rising event at LA Matheson Secondary School on Feb. 21.
One Billion Rising is an international movement dedicated to improving the safety and wellbeing of women. The name comes from the statistic that one in three women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime, which totals roughly one billion women and girls.
NEVR partnered with One Billion Rising to educate students on how to handle a situation where someone around them is being assaulted physically, emotionally, or mentally.
Noor Fadel, a 19-year-old public speaker, was the event’s keynote. She discussed her experience being assaulted on the SkyTrain in December 2017. She says that her “main focus is to encourage [students] to speak up about [violence, and] to feel like they have the ability to do more than just sit down and not do anything.”
“You don’t need to physically interfere,” she adds. “You can take out your phone, call 911, be there just to be a witness.”
Several organizations who advocate for ending violence against women were also present, including Surrey Youth, D.O.V.E. (Delta Opposes Violence Everywhere), Respectful Futures, Global Girl Power, and many more. Each of them provided pamphlets, business cards, and information on what they can do for women who face violence.
Kay Dennison, representative for NEVR, says that her goal is to “address this issue of violence in our community.”
“People see it only as striking, but violence is much more than that,” she says.
Dennison acknowledges that youth, as well as people from older generations, do not typically know how to stop violence when they witness it in public, but emphasizes the importance of not somehow getting involved. She also notes that seniors should be included in the task of preventing violence.
“Part of my job as a senior is bringing that senior perspective,” she says. “There’s a tendency to see it as only youth problems. It’s a problem through all generations.”
The event ended with the traditional One Billion Rising dance. This is to showcase the individuality of each person using movement. Everyone stood in rows and music was played for all to dance to in their own unique way.
The event was designed to inspire students to stand up for others. By using your voice or recording an act of violence on your phone, you can make a difference. Fadel reiterates that everyone has the power to eliminate the violent actions of an individual, rather than being just a bystander.