One Billion Rising for Change

UWC Dilijan joined the One Billon Rising global campaign thanks to Amal Clooney Scholarship fellow Dalia (Lebanon, UWCD’18) who, along with her peers, brought together prominent opinion leaders from around the world to Dilijan to discuss the pressing topic of violence against women.

With this, the global One Billion Rising campaign to Armenia. The campaign was launched back in 2012 on Valentine’s Day. It began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. Over time, the movement expanded, and in February 2015 millions of activists from 200 countries stood up for the Rise for Revolution. Dalia herself got to know the movement through Liberian activist and journalist, Gboko Stewart.

D.: “This is when we decided to make a project out of it and organise a One Billion Rising event in Armenia. We thought it would be incredible to implement such an inspiring movement in a country that is in need of an awareness boost”.

Next, she got acquainted with Graziella Seif, the President of United Ambassadors at Large for Global Integration in the US, who suggested joining the initiative. Rowanna, Dalia’s sister, who is pursuing a singing career, flew to Armenia from Lebanon to perform at the event and to endorse the initiative.

The event perfectly coincided with the Inclusivity Focus Week, thus becoming a part of an even bigger cause. Very soon the event’s organising team comprised students committed to creating an event that would gather women from Dilijan and the wider community of Armenia. Students actively collaborated with the Dilijan Community Centre to get in contact with local arts and crafts workshops and organised a charity fair of handmade souvenirs that would contribute to further supporting the cause of empowering women.

The event hosted some exceptional women that came to advocate for this important cause. The World Bank’s Country Manager for Armenia, Laura Bailey called violence against women not only a violation of human rights, but also an economic drain: “Globally, we have conservative estimates of lost productivity resulting from domestic violence that range from 1.2 percent of GDP in Brazil and Tanzania to 2 percent of GDP in Chile. And those figures don’t include costs associated with long-term emotional impact and second-generation consequences (children in households that experience domestic violence perform less well in school and have a harder time making successful transitions to work)”.

Natalya Harutyunyan from UNDP Armenia, when talking about the importance of engaging women in decision making said: “Aren’t they (ed. women) playing a key role in the educational sphere, children’s upbringing, social protection, and other issues? So why shouldn’t they decide or influence decisions in those aspects of community life?”

Dalia’s initiative, in fact, united the community of the College and the entire town: Visual Arts students had the opportunity to exhibit their pieces of feminist art, and the Cooking CAS expressing their support to the cause through preparing refreshments for the guests. Several UWC Dilijan students came up with their own speeches, also, a group of children from Dilijan performed a traditional Armenian dance.

The event was truly a success. The organisers believe that it served its purpose and they are hopeful that it drew all the participants one step closer to realising the latitude of the cause and finding ways of overcoming the obstacles in its way. As the Managing Director of TUMO Centre for Creative Technologies Marie Lou Papazian said in her speech, her hope was that eventually these kind of events wouldn’t be needed; but the only way it could happen is to get on the same level and work together to find a solution that didn’t just create the illusion of proactivity and make people feel good but yielded sustainable results.