On 14 February, Gabriela Australia in partnership with One Billion Rising Melbourne in Australia was among the countries to hold activities as part of the One Billion Rising global campaign initiated by Eve Ensler, playwright of “The Vagina Monologues” and founder of V-Day, a global campaign against violence against women and children. One Billion Rising (OBR) is an international campaign to raise awareness of women’s rights through creative action and dance, a call to put an end to violence against women.
The Organisers for the event are Gabriela Australia, YWCA Australia, Victorian Trades Hall Council, Domestic Violence Victoria, South- East Centre Against Sexual Assault, Women’s Legal Service Victoria. Thousands gathered in Federation Square—women, men, children and various organisations like Eastern Domestic Violence Service and Filipino organisations.
At 6pm, around 2,000 trooped women and men protested and converged to the heart of Melbourne in Federation Square in front of the main stage to “dance, strike and rise” not only against physical forms of abuse such as battering and rape but also against all forms of violence against women.
The crowd together, they danced to the Break the Chain and One Billion Rising Filipino version demonstrated on the stage by Gabriella officers and members, Animal Lovers Rescue Mission Inc. headed by current president Jessica Peritos and Share-Me-A-Dream Bisayan Community Club of Victoria Inc. represented by Choy Symes and Terry Kane.
The campaign has the support of Prime Minister Julia Gillard who released her video endorsing the One Billion Rising movement and the Australian events.
At 7pm, the protesters marched down St Kilda Road and converged in the Queen Victoria Gardens where top DJ’s and dancers continued to energise the crowd saying ‘No’ to Violence Against Women and Children.
Current officers of Gabriela Australia are Angelina Ladera , Chairperson; Resy Lim, Vice Chairperson; Tess Hinojosa, Secretary; Jenny Binegas, Department Secretary; Lorna Diche, Finance Officer; Malou Logan, Committee Head for Education and Research; Christy Rivera, Committee Head for Welfare; Illeth Stevens, Deputy Head for Welfare; Elsa Reed, Committee Head for Membership; May Kotsakis, Committee Head for Campaign; and Steph Rabusa, Deputy Head for Campaign.