Each person that does one small thing to change the status quo of poverty or violence has an effect, even though it may not be immediate. The woman who bakes and sells cakes on a market stall in Sydney might make $20 and donate this amount to an education project for girls in Africa. She is only a small cog in a very very big wheel and she may never know the effect – but she is making a difference. This is why I volunteer and become involved.
As a sometimes radical activist, Sara Lubowitz has always been outspoken about her beliefs. Drawing strength from her grandmother and her mother, and raised by parents who encouraged political debate and discussion, Sara has never been able to sit back and accept the status quo. At the tender age of 13, she joined the Anti-Nazi league in South-East London in defiance of the local National Front skinhead subculture. At 16, she travelled to South Africa with her South African father and was confronted with institutionalised racism for the first time. Appalled by the government’s policies, she became actively involved in the Anti-Apartheid Movement. She also participated in the HIV/AIDS demonstrations with ACT UP in Sydney, she went on to work with Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and the AIDS Council of NSW where she established the Women Partners of Gay/Bisexual Men Project. This was the first of its kind in the world.
While growing up in London, Sara had also been all too aware of the brutality of domestic violence: almost every day for more than thirty years, her grandmother had been beaten by her husband, an ex-London policeman. Her grandmother would leave him – but she would always return. This man’s violent legacy had a lasting impact on Sara. When she read Half the Sky, a book about the oppression of women and girls worldwide, it left a strong and immediate impression.
Written by two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu-Dunn, Half the Sky exposes the many forms of gender-based violence against women and girls, from the abortion of female foetuses to sex trafficking and forced prostitution. They also write about some of the extraordinary and ordinary people bringing about change. Sara immediately bought ten copies of the book, giving them to her friends and family, but found that the book did not have the same impact on them. Determined to become more involved, Sara investigated One Billion Rising (OBR), an organisation founded by Eve Ensler that was calling for a global strike on 14 February 2013 to show solidarity on the refusal to condone violence against women and girls. Volunteers in local communities in over 200 countries organised OBR events – with the aim of getting one billion people to rise, strike and dance.
Sara campaigned for her local community centre, Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre, to take part in One Billion Rising. She organised a children’s dance troupe to perform, which encouraged the audience to dance, and she orchestrated a publicity campaign to make sure that her daughters, her husband, her friends and her community were aware of this opportunity to express their outrage that a billion women might be abused during the course of our lifetime. She remains committed to this initiative and plans to organise another gathering in 2014.