NORTH ADAMS -- Berkshire County residents are being asked to join One Billion Rising, an international movement aimed at ending violence against women and girls, by attending an event, wearing a red arm band or simply standing up today at noon, as a sign of solidarity.
The movement, which aims to get "1 billion women to walk out, dance, rise up and demand an end to the violence" against women and girls, was founded by Eve Ensler, author of the "Vagina Monologues."
"This year marks the 15th anniversary of the monologues and V-Day, which Ensler created as a way to raise funds for charities and draw attention to the issue of violence against women," Susan Birns, president of the Elizabeth Freeman Center board of directors, said Wednesday.
"Instead of the sappy chocolates and cards, we're acknowledging that a lot of relationships are not happy and that there is a lot of violence against women and girls in this world," she said. "V-Day is a way to raise awareness. Ensler allows the Vagina Monologues to be produced on February 14, with a portion of funds being sent to the V-Day Foundation for a specific charity."
She added, "This year, Ensler decided she wanted to do two things -- ramp up the events a little bit and include a community awareness campaign aimed at celebrating women's lives, but at the same time acknowledging our outrage at the violence that takes place. It's an invitation to hold dances and take a stand."
Ensler created One Billion Rising after reading a United Nations report that said that said 1 billion women, at some point in their lives, will be sexually assaulted or badly beaten.
"That's one out of every three women," Birns said. "We're saying enough is enough and we're doing this on behalf of that billion. We're uprising."
According to the movement's website, OneBillionRising.org, events are scheduled to take place in almost every country around the globe.
"There are local events happening and events in Des Moines and in Bombay," she said. "We've asked people to change their Facebook profile picture to the One Billion Rising Logo. We've asked everyone to wear red arm bands, because they create a teachable moment."
After learning about the movement last March, North Adams resident Rachel Branch became passionate about making sure local residents were aware and joined in. To help spread the word, she produced "Solutions Rising," a half-hour program airing on Northern Berkshire Community Television, with Elizabeth Freeman Center Executive Director Janis Broderick and Liz Langille, also of the Elizabeth Freeman Center.
In addition, Branch asked Mayor Richard J. Alcombright to sign a proclamation declaring Feb. 14 as "One Billion Rising Day" in North Adams.
"I originally asked him if he would sign a proclamation if I were to give him a draft," she said. "Not only did the mayor agree to sign the proclamation, but he decided to present it during Tuesday's City Council meeting. It was also his idea to have each of the council women read a portion of the proclamation. His support was unbelievable. I'm just really grateful."
In addition to asking women and men to take a few minutes from their schedules at noon today to rise up, stand or dance, there are several events scheduled in Berkshire County to celebrate and bring awareness to the movement.
Here's a video from Maya Azucena, who recently headlined the 8th annual MCLA Blues & Funk Festival. Azucena made this video, "Dance Revolution," specifically for "One Billion Rising."
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email