Rising up in support of women
A student holds an image of Malala Yousufzai, who was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan.
In the past 12 months, violence against women and girls has hit the headlines over and over. Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot to stop her campaign for girl's education, but not silenced; Jill Meagher, abducted from a busy Melbourne street, raped and murdered; Jyoti Singh, Indian student whose brutal rape on a bus and death sparked national anger and global attention; and Victoria Soto, the US school teacher shot protecting her young students at Sandy Hook Elementary in the United States. These are names to conjure with.
On Thursday we will be rising for them, and for the millions of women and girls caught up in conflict in Somalia, Syria, Sudan, the Congo, Afghanistan, Mali, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, South Africa, Colombia, Timor Leste and all over the world, whose names we will never know. They, too, deserve justice and protection.
The ''One Billion Rising'' campaign is a global call to action based on the staggering statistic that one in three women on the planet will be beaten or raped during their lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than 1 billion women and girls. The pain, the loss, in every sense, and the social damage represented by that terrible figure of 1 billion is almost unfathomable to contemplate.
We know violence against women is endemic in our region and undermines the economic and social development of states. No state can prosper while half its population lives oppressed by fear of violence or rape. We know violence against indigenous women and girls in Australia remains a scourge. We know domestic violence exists across Australia. And we know it costs the nation dearly on every measure - economic, health, productivity, social, education and inter-generational impact.
Australia has a National Action Plan, but pressure must be applied for the resources to deliver it. And so the Australian National University is hosting an ''uprising'' event in Canberra in support of V-Day's One Billion Rising event to stop violence against women and girls.
This Valentine's Day, academics, students and the Canberra community are standing in solidarity with Canberra's anti-violence organisations, including the Domestic Violence Crisis Service, White Ribbon, Rape Crisis Centre, Women's Legal Centre and many more to raise awareness of this crucial issue and say ''enough''.
What does it mean to join an ''uprising''? By both gathering in person and using social media, the ANU will join activists, writers, thinkers, celebrities, and women and men across the world. We express our outrage, demand change, strike, dance in the Union Court and Garema Place and rise in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women and girls in Canberra, in Australia, in our region and globally.
If it sounds a bit radical, that's because it is. There is nothing inevitable about violence against 1 billion women and girls, and this fact deserves a serious policy response. Imagine the global reaction if this same number of 1 billion people were hit by a pandemic or a terrorist attack. Services and justice for survivors of gender-based violence is crucial, but we are rising to prevent the violence occurring in the first place. That means valuing women and girls. That means challenging the way we think. And I believe it can be done.
Campuses have always been a place to call for justice. It is O-Week, and Valentine's Day. Come join an uprising.
Dr Susan Harris Rimmer is the director of studies at the Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy in the College of Asia and the Pacific at ANU, and a member of the ANU Gender Institute.
For more detail, visit www.onebillionrising.org and www.vday.org