On Valentine’s Day, millions around the world gathered in support of a new global “movement for social justice” – perhaps the largest mobilization of its kind in years. In Manila, hundreds of protesters danced with veteran stage actress Monique Wilson, joining simultaneous street protests and dance parades, among other events, organised nationwide.
“One Billion Rising for Justice is a call to women, men, and youth around the world to gather safely on 14 February 2014 outside places where they are entitled to justice – court houses, police stations, government offices, school administration buildings, work places, sites of environmental injustice, military courts, embassies, places of worship, homes, or simply public gathering places where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not”, notes the movement’s official webpage.
One Billion Rising (OBR) is an offshoot of a campaign of the same name launched last year, an international movement on women’s rights spearheaded locally by Gabriela. OBR has since expanded the focus of its campaigns to include a much broader range of issues from socioeconomic justice to human rights.
Noting how rising social inequality has made the pursuit of meaningful justice and decent lives difficult – if not impossible – for the majority, “the plight of millions around the world cannot be separated from broader trends in government policy and an economy essentially designed for the benefit of a few”, said Sarah Elago, president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines. It is for this reason, she noted, that OBR has made education and social equality, in particular, an explicit focus of its agenda.
“Rise for Education is against the commercialization of education; a system that reduces education to a privilege restricted to a few. We stand for an alternative agenda, a people’s agenda, where all young people can have access to free, quality education, which is theirs by right. This is impossible to attain unless we fight for it, together”, added Elago.