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Why I Supported One Billion Rising

Eve Ensler greeting Neema at One Billion Rising in Congo: Two hearts - One Mind - Big Love!

Was forwarded the link to an article in the Huffington Post entitled:
Why I Won't Support One Billion Rising. After reading it I felt compelled to comment. The Huffington Post only allows 250 words so I had to shorten it a bit, but here is the unabridged version:

I am Congolese, a woman, an activist, an underfunded grassroots worker, and a One Billion Rising supporter and participant. This article is very disappointing on so many fronts, beginning with the opening line – “One Billion Rising is to ‘rise’ above forms of violence” – which with all the shallow words that follow completely mischaracterizes what the One Billion Rising event was all about. With any research at all you can quickly determine that it was about one billion women joining together and taking a stand with One Voice, from over 200 countries around the globe, to demand an end to violence against women. It was a global strike from the norm to visibly gather, make some noise and draw attention to the #1 issue for women across the world today.

Clearly you’ve never sat down with Eve Ensler to discuss your concerns, since you say: “what goes through her mind?” Yet you feel free to assume she’s got some great white savior complex, accusing her of “an inflated sense of ego” and mocking her intentions as if she’s got “world domination” in mind.

It seems to me that all you gained from your time with the Congolese and Iranian women was their righteous indignation, which was obviously not as righteous as it was damning. You took your characterizations of Eve Ensler and One Billion Rising from women on stage who are trying to create a platform for themselves, who therefore need you to mindlessly follow their lead and drink their kool-aid.

You state: “I don't see why it can't be enough to do essential grassroots work.” You obviously missed the point about scheduling the event for February 14th – V-Day's 15th anniversary of doing grassroots work! 15 years of treating VICTIMS! Grassroots work is essential, but obviously it’s not enough. What are all of our grassroots efforts doing to end violence against women? You note yourself that violence against women is not in decline here in East Congo, but rising.

Don’t let those full of righteous indignation cloud your good sense. You’ve got it completely backwards when you say: “The focus for white, western feminists should be on gender equality at home, where there are enough problems for a lifetime of activism.” IT'S TIME TO GO GLOBAL with this issue, and that’s what pioneer Eve Ensler is attempting to do: To stop allowing it to just be a Congolese problem, an India problem, an Afghan problem. More than ever we are seeing we are all part of One World. This is a global issue that demands a Universal Platform. And we in the worst place in the world to be a woman or girl need your strength Natalie, your experience, your influence, to raise this issue to the top of the Global Agenda where it belongs. We need Eve Ensler, Gloria Steinem, Abigail Disney, Robin Wright, Rebecca Solnit, and yes, Ben Affleck too!

How did you get so narrow in your thinking that you can’t see that violence against women is not just a women’s issue? Do we not want and need men standing with us? Or are you suggesting a war; women against men? This is not a war against man-kind; it’s a global campaign to end violence against women. It’s a campaign for Right-Mindedness. Is patriarchy an enemy? Absolutely. It’s an enemy of Right-Mindedness; of the global consciousness Eve Ensler is promoting; a mind that sees every one as equal, as essential, as One.


Osai's picture


Dear Neema,

You captured it very well. Conscious efforts are needed to get everyone especially men to take a firm stand against rape and other acts of violence against women.


Twitter: @livingtruely

KathyG's picture

As always you know what to say

Dear Neema,

Here at the World Pulse offices we cheered you and the Maman Shujaa and all the people of the Congo on. You know we did. I, unfortunately at home with a cold, couldn't join our small gathering in downtown Portland.

There is no single answer, no one person, or people to solve this. It is TIME TO GO GLOBAL. Reading your piece, reading the Huffington Post piece and the many comments in response, we all need to pull from our strengths and from what ever situation we come from, whether grass-roots, media persona, woman, or man, to be the role models and movement builders to make a global change.

Thank you for your continued perseverance and powerful words.


jacollura's picture

Thank you, Neema

Thank you for this thoughtful, conscientious response to a negative and narrow-minded article. Thanks to Eve Ensler for founding V-Day and organizing One Billion Rising. I rose, marched, and danced with my sisters and brothers in Portland, OR, and I thought of you and the women and men rising and dancing all across the globe.

Amei's picture

Well said Neema.

Thoughtfulness is what we need. This is a good example and thank you for sharing these thoughts.

We all have to work together where ever we come from. We have to join together to make us strong.

All the best Neema

With love

Cali gal Michelle's picture

Yes, Neema!

My dearest sister-

I say "yes" to your strongly stated response, "Yes" to the fact this is a human issue, not just a woman issue. The narrow mindedness of the "won't" article, while disappointing at best, also provokes responses like yours, and thereby inspires even more awareness and action from the "will"s!

My body was home sick, too, on that day. But my heart and soul were as one with all who were rising up! Let the rising continue as we move along our separate paths towards the singular goal.

Thank you Neema for your dedication and action, which never ceases to inspire me.


Let us Hope together-
aka: Cali gal


Aurore's picture

Western Europe rose as well

Hi Neema,
I also read this crazy article about not supporting One Billion Rising and I thought it was apalling. As a French feminist living in Belgium I am totally aware I do not face the same challenges other women might face abroad, yet I am also very aware violence against wmen definitely happens also at home with 1 women dying in France every 4 days because of domestic violence, for example.

We organized a One Billion Rising in Ghent, Belgium, and we were all proud to rise along with people all over the world. The group was very diverse, actually. Going global was exactly the purpose of the event and the idea that I was dancing along with so many others truly made me tremble with joy during the flashmob.

I did not at all feel that because I rose on the 14th, I have a white savior complex and that I try to undermine the voices of women in other countries. I also did not feel that I was betraying European women who face violence in our continent. I just felt that I was saying NO to violence with women in Europe and outside, that it was a deep grassroot work because the people who stopped to watch us were sensitized through this event, and that it was extremely valuable.

The girls and women dancing on Feb 14th are mostly persons who are also active outside this frame, who speak out on violence against women on an everyday basis, and it was just an awesome idea to gather them all to express their bodies, something that is often restricted for women in every single place of this planet!

So, thanks for your article. Sharing it right away!!
Warm hug from snowy Belgium,

kirthijay's picture

Very well said Neema. <3

Very well said Neema. <3

Gloriabit's picture

yes Neema

We need women like you in the all world, you are very right

May the Lord hepls you and strehngthen you dear

Y's picture

What bravery you have, Neema

The truth is so well-said by you. I am so angry about women who simply want everything to be "nice" no matter the price of truth that must be paid for "peace." Women continue to turn on each other when we speak out with anything other than the babble about gender roles that have been beaten into the brains of all the "civilized" world. Women continue to bear children for men that they know are bullies not worthy of being called human, wrongly believing that a predatory animal has any lasting allegiance.

We must wake up and wake up each other. Thank you for your strong words.


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