Words aren't enough.
No! Stop! Don't! Women and girls plead these words in every language that exists, yet all too often they have gone unheard. Words don't stop a man who's trapped in a cycle of anger, intimidation and revenge. Words can't describe the complex emotions that a new mother feels when she looks at her newborn baby and all she sees is her rapist's face. Words can't contain the loss and sorrow a parent feels when their daughter is killed in a violent attack. Words won't undo the damage and shame that a young girl endures long after her body has recovered from brutality.
We've all heard horrific stories of acts of violence against women and girls. We don't have to go to Asia or Africa to know that men commit unthinkable acts of terror toward women and girls; it's happening right here in our backyard. One UN statistic is worth repeating: one in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. That's one billion women -- all of whom are daughters, mothers, wives, sisters, partners or grandmothers.
Why aren't women and girls rioting the streets in protest of violence? Have we learned to accept violence as part of our global culture? Is this the kind of world we want our children and grandchildren to inherit? Have we given up?
The answer is a resounding and an unequivocal NO. Not as long as the one and only Eve Ensler is around. We may not have the power ofwords to stop violence. But make no mistake. Our language of protest will be expressive and loud. It will be a grand gesture of global proportions.
On February 14, Eve Ensler and V-Day will lead more than 200 countries to STRIKE, DANCE and RISE in protest of violence against women and girls. It's called One Billion Rising. It's a call to action -- to one billion women and girls and all the boys and men who love them -- to keep alive our vision for a world where women and girls are far more than mere bodies to assault, rape or violate. We will shake the earth to shift the energy in favor of love over hatred, revenge and violence. We will strike to turn the world that has become a conflict zone for women and girls into a safe haven of peaceful nurturing where one and all will thrive and find joy in being alive. We will rise because no act of violence is humanity's proudest moment. We will dance together and keep our hope alive that violence will become the exception to the rule.
Together, one billion of us, possibly more, will rise. His Holiness the Dalai Lama will rise. Former President of Chile and Executive Director of UN Women Ms. Michelle Bachelet will rise. Members of Parliament will rise. Catholic Bishops in the Philippines will rise. Over 13,000 organizations across the globe will rise. Labor unions including the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, National Nurses United, and so many more within the labor movement. Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Charlize Theron, Donna Karan, Robert Redford, Yoko Ono, Rosario Dawson, Anne Hathaway, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Lawrence and many Hollywood actors will rise.
It will be a Valentine's Day like no other.
San Francisco will have multiple risings, including one with Mayor Ed Lee leading a One Billion Rising pledge with various city leaders at San Francisco City Hall at 4 p.m., the event will be a dance action with DJs and dancers, all of San Francisco is invited. There will be a dance/walk across Golden Gate Bridge starting at 10 a.m. where people will gather at the southeast end of the eastern walkway. There will be thousands of risings around the globe. There will be a dance party at The Art Institute at noon and another at Grace Cathedral at 2:30 p.m. There will be a Flash Mob After party at El Rio from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
I will rise in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, with a few friends from the Bay Area. We will let rhythm, music and joy take over as we hold hands with our Congolese sisters at City of Joy, a transformational haven where dance is a way of healing wounds, rebuilding what has been destroyed and turning pain into power. City of Joy, in some ways, is the ideal place to rise as it is where the aftermath of rape and brutality is literally overpowered by love and joy. The women who live within its walls find healing and are then transformed so that each of them becomes a leader and a force for good when they return to their respective communities.
I hope you will join us on Valentine's Day. You can take one minute, one hour or the entire day to rise. You can join a flash mob or dance party or start your own. You can link up with various risings in person, by Skype or in spirit. Because we need each one of us to resolve that enough is enough. Because our inaction means more sex trafficking, more rape, more genital mutilation, more domestic abuse, and more harm to our greatest resource. Because no one's daughter or granddaughter should have to learn firsthand what violence is. Because there is always -- always -- an alternative to violence and because we must believe that we have within our power to choose it.
Susie Tompkins Buell is a philanthropist and founder of the Susie Tompkins Buell Foundation.