We call on you this year to be braver, go deeper, reflect, study, listen, learn, awaken to what you don't know, ask the difficult questions, engage, take actions, and push yourselves out of your comfort zones physically and intellectually. We call on you to commit to resistance and solidarity. Because Rising is no longer a campaign — it is a way of life.

[http://www.onebillionrising.org/about/campaign]

On Wednesday, February 14, Whanganui will again be rising to support this One Billion Rising worldwide event.

This also marks the opening event of our 10th La Fiesta festival programme. One Billion Rising [OBR] has been widely recognised as the largest mass action in human history to end violence against women. The campaign was launched on Valentine's Day in 2012, and the following year people from around the globe came together in an expression of their desire to end violence, with 200 countries participating. From large cities to small villages across continents, people gathered outside courthouses, police stations and government buildings. Some even went on strike. Men and women danced in public spaces, particularly in those where women often feel unsafe. This defiant display to RISE up against injustice set itself on a course to challenge inequalities, and to highlight the intersection of powerful systemic forces such as poverty and patriarchy, racism and conflict, imperialism and capitalism, as well as the plundering of our environment. Over the last two years OBR has generated strength from the women's marches that gathered in protest across America, notably to rally against the leadership of President Donald Trump. In Whanganui we will once again lead the world as the global campaign co-ordinators have heralded our event as the first in the world to kick off the rising this Valentine's Day.

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In showcasing the power of art and dance, the thousands of global OBR events over the last six years have generated a galvanising political power that has resulted in the birth of new political leadership and has created legislative change. While it has strengthened the might of the women's movement, an emerging collective voice and vision has created safer platforms for men to articulate their own call to action. It is undeniable that men are also victims of gender violence, although the vast majority of men are abused by the actions of other men. However, the overwhelming proportion of victims worldwide continue to be women and girls. Patriarchal structures remain endemic in informing the political behaviour of those in power, rendering females marginalised in their opportunities to participate in education, gain access to health services, or maintain economic freedom and independence. In dancing together at OBR events, it enables individuals to reclaim their bodies, to release fierceness and a renewed energy to facilitate collective joy, perhaps even powerful enough to become a revolution. The ultimate hope being that it could become a way of life.

As people have danced and demanded justice, 2019 is the year to expand our thinking, to move from a campaign to a way of being together, every day. Join the revolution from 10am in Majestic Square this Valentine's Day to dance, gather together, or just be a silent witness to a phenomenon that sees one billion participants around the globe.

Whanganui event details are on the OBR Facebook event page. For more info visit: www.onebillionrising.org or email: womnet.whanganui@gmail.com
Look for La Fiesta festival guide in cafes, libraries and good places around town. Details on lafiestanz.com