More than 300 members of youth groups and civil society organisations joined the One Billion Rising (OBR) 2023 global campaign, which was celebrated this year locally under a theme translated as “Rise for the Freedom of Girls and Women of all Backgrounds”.

“The campaign aims to promote the recognition of rights, freedom, and self-expression of girls and women from all backgrounds. It also aims to promote freedom from patriarchy created by the abuse of power and greed,” said a March 4 press release by OBR.

“The campaign also promotes the creation of a new culture in the community to stop violence against women, eliminating gender roles and learning more about gender through standing together in solidarity, artistic freedom and dance,” it added.

The Phnom Penh event was co-organised by the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN), Gender and Development for Cambodia, Phare Ponleu Selpak, SafeSpaceBtB, Transparency International Cambodia, the UN Youth Advisory Panel Cambodia and Women for Peace Makers.

The campaign received support from the EU, Save the Children, Sverige, Diskonia, Heinrich Boll Stiftung and Norwegian People’s Aid, and sponsored by Pizza Hut, KLEN and foodpanda.

The event took place in late February at Coconut Park, with 304 participants. It differs from many other campaign actions, as it is based around a group dance.

“Dancing without rules is a strong opportunity for self-expression. The participants were free to move and dance however they liked,” said OBR.

“Apart from dancing, there were many art forms, including singing, modelling, theatrical performances, short screenings, and the competition for freedom of creativity, which will change the mindset of contributors, reducing violence against all diverse girls and women,” it added.

Organiser Keo Yary, a project coordinator at CYN, said the event was an excellent platform for reaching the public.

“Many messages from many voices were heard via this campaign,” she said.

She added that the event had had a positive impact on several diverse groups and conveyed a good picture to society that collaboration between women was so strong that they could overcome any challenge.

“On behalf of the youth association, I look forward to seeing more engagement from the public in the future,” she concluded.

“I am happy to see many diverse people join the OBR campaign because fighting for girls and women’s rights is important and is everyone’s responsibility,” said Tep Rachana, who participated in the OBR.

“The event provided a safe environment to speak up and a space to learn more about our rights,” she added.

The OBR campaign was launched on Valentine’s Day in 2012 to raise awareness that according to the UN, one in three women globally would be beaten or raped during their lifetime. The event has been held 10 times in the Kingdom since 2013.