On 8 March 2014, the world will celebrate International Women’s Day. In Qatar, at least a hundred Sudanese men and women will come together in music, dance and discussion to show their stand for justice and equality for women, and stop the violence against them in Sudan.

The 22-year-old student at Georgetown University in Qatar, Sarah Fayyad, who’s one of the organisers of One Billion Rising in Qatar, said:

As a Sudanese woman in the Diaspora, I have seen on the media and experienced personally how the legal system in Sudan is abusive to women. I feel it is my duty to stand against those laws that promote violence against women by anyway possible. One Billion Rising is a great opportunity for everyone to dance against oppression and all types for abuse against women. Instead of lecturing people about the issues, a dance is a great medium to reach a larger audience.’

One Billion Rising Khartoum
Source: One Billion Rising – Khartoum Facebook

This stand and celebration is inspired by the global campaign phenomenon, One Billion Rising, which is the largest day of mass action to stop violence against women. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls. Every year, there’s a theme for the campaign. This year, it’s One Billion Rising For Justice. Aiming to get millions of people to take part in the campaign on Valentine’s Day (V-Day), One Billion Rising is a global call to women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice – courthouses, police stations, government offices, schools, work places, places of worship, homes, or public gathering. It is a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word and testimonies.

The One Billion Rising campaign is an important event in Sudan. According to the Voice of Africa, one in three women will suffer sexual violence in their lifetime. Sudan is one of two countries, along with Somalia, that has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). According to a 2013 poll, Sudan was found to be one of the worst countries for women’s rights, female genital mutilation and under-aged girls marriage. In Khartoum in 2013, the first One Billion Rising – Khartoum took place where at least 1,000 women [and men] gathered at Al Ahfad University, participating in dance, plays and musical performances at an event called ‘Khartoum Rising’. Watch the video on YouTube:

This year will be the first time One Billion Rising will take place in Qatar. Organised by the Sudanese Women Association (SWA), the Sudanese community in Qatar – which is home to at least 30,000 Sudanese – are joining their brothers and sisters in Sudan on 8 March 2014 at Education City. Amel Ismail Ibrahim Abdalla, one of the leading members of SWA and organisers of One Billion Rising in Qatar, said:

The One Billion Rising campaign indeed fits well with SWA’s mission and goals which endorse women’s empowerment and emancipation. The campaign aims at combating violence against women which is conducive for effective involvement and participation of women in private and public spheres. SWA’s programme and activities aim to raise awareness among Sudanese women in Qatar as well as empower women through inter alia combating violence against women…SWA’s ultimate objective lies in providing a conducive environment free of violence against women where women’s rights is guaranteed and secured.’

Currently visiting Qatar is the 23-year-old Aboulgassim Mohamed Ahmed Hussein, Board Executive of One Billion Rising Khartoum, who’s helping SWA implement the event in Doha, Qatar. He said:

One Billion Rising is not campaign that only affects women and their issues, but it also touches men in the community because she’s part of the community – actually she’s the whole community. That’s why I love her and make this issue a priority. I support her as a person and want my country to have a positive change (social justice) at a time where violence against her is a submissive thing in my country.’

One Billion Rising Sudan
Source: One Billion Rising – Khartoum Facebook

The most popular event of One Billion Rising is the ‘Break The Chain’ dance, which is considered to be the anthem of the campaign. It says:

I dance cause I love
Dance cause I dream
Dance cause I’ve had enough
Dance to stop the screams
Dance to break the rules
Dance to stop the pain
Dance to turn it upside down
Its time to break the chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain
Dance, rise
Dance, rise

Rehearsals for the ‘Break The Chain’ dance have begun as a group of young Sudanese men and women will perform it simultaneously on recorded video on 8 March 2014. Expecting at least 100 participants, SWA invites all Sudanese in Doha, Qatar to join the cause and others in Qatar who would like to support it. If interested, email the dance organiser, Amal Osman at [email protected]. The 21-year-old said:

Dance is a form of self expression, One Billion Rising campaign unites people around the world and gives them a way to express their frustration from the abuse and injustice that happens to women in a day to day basis. Through such a simple, creative and peaceful method, I believe we will be able reach out to many and hopefully make some changes. These changes might not be major, but with this campaigning, we will at least get people thinking, questioning, debating and speaking about these issues.’

For more information, visit the Facebook page One Billion Rising Sudan 2014.

Author: Ola Diab

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