Tuesday, February 5, 2013

'One Billion Rising': stop clicking, start dancing!

'One Billion Rising' is a global campaign inviting men and women alike to rise and demand an end to violence against women across the world. The statistic provided is pretty shocking in today's world: one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. That is one billion women, hence the title of the campaign. The climax will be on the 14th of February when hopefully thousands of people around the world will 'rise' and stage flash mobs, dancing in the street. But there are many more events planned.

Purely from a communications point of view, there are similarities between this campaign and the Kony 2012 one that I have mentioned in this blog beforeOne Billion Rising has a very good website, clear and easy to navigate. The site has two main videos  - but there are many more if you think that a number of local/regional/national 'branches' have made their own- both very well done: the first is a moving short film highlighting the issue behind the whole campaign. Here it is:

And the second - below - is the music video of the song that will accompany the actions on the streets.

The messages are powerful and relatively simple.

But the similarities end here: the action (dancing and singing) is straightforward and legal, while the idea of the Kony 2012 organisers was to ask people to go out in the middle of the night and carpet bomb their city with flyers of Kony.  And there are two other main differences: firstly, the serious issue tackled in 'One Billion Rising' - as the name says - affects a much bigger number of people across the whole world; secondly, unlike the creator of Kony 2012 Jason Russell - who was totally unknown before the success of his campaign video - the brain behind 'One Billion Rising' is Eve Ensler and her organisation V-Day. Ensler wrote 'The Vagina Monologues' - a well known play on the subject of violence against women, played in theatres across the world; she has become an iconic figure standing up for women's rights. Thanks to her notoriety, and obviously the issue, the campaign has received the support of well-known female - and male - figures such as politicians, actors, singers and so on.  Here is my personal favourite - ok, I may have been slightly influenced by the fact that I have been a fan since I was 15, but still..

So, in theory, the 'rise' on the 14th of February has all the ingredients to be a huge success, but will it be? Will the issue, the flash mob idea, and the big campaign around it be enough to get people out of their chairs? Will they stop clicking and start dancing? I am quite confident that there will be a big response, definitely bigger than the Kony 2012 one, but the size of this response remains to be seen. I sincerely hope - as I did for Kony 2012 by the way - to be pleasantly surprised.

Here in Brussels, as usual, the only institution that seems to pick up on trends and social issues outside the bubble, is the European Parliament: female - and one male for what I could see - MEP's have been dancing with umbrellas inside the Parliament - slightly ahead of the 14th, I guess to push people to participate on the day itself (or maybe because there was no way of getting everyone there dancing on St. Valentine? Stop the cynicism, Virginia!). The campaign website has inserted the European Commission in the list of organisations that 'are rising'. Great! Where? What? Why does the link in the list send me to the page on the fight against human trafficking - an important issue no doubt - where there is no reference or connection to the campaign? Why - as usual - is it that if you make a search on the site you cannot find anything? Can someone in the Commission please tell me how they are planning to rise? Thank you.

Anyway, fingers crossed for the 14th. FYI, here is the link for the 'rising' in Brussels

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