McPherson residents took part in a global movement Thursday to advocate for abused women around the world.
1 Billion Rising is a worldwide movement that aims to raise awareness about and stop the abuse of women and girls. It is based on the statistic that one in three women, or 1 billion females, will be raped or beaten in their lifetime.
Organizers encourage communities to start a revolution by walking, dancing, gathering or just rising to make a change. It’s website showed participation of individuals all over the globe. McPherson joined in the movement with a gathering in Memorial Park at noon Thursday.
“I felt like having a gathering would shed light on the injustices around the world,” organizer Diane Carter said. “I think that when something happens to people around the world, it affects us whether we realize it or not.”
Carter said women’s abuse hits closer to home than may realize.
“It’s just absolutely horrible, if you just listen to the news, every day we have this happening all the time and it happens to people we know,” she said. “It’s not just something that happens in other countries, it's something that happens where we live.”
Speakers during the McPherson Rising event were Carter, Wendy Lorenz of the Set Free Movement, who spoke about human trafficking, and Rex Willems McPherson Black Belt Academy, who spoke of standing up for one’s self.
Lorenz called attention to some slavery statistics around the world and in Kansas. McPherson is at the center of the United States, and coupled with its proximity to Interstate 135, Lorenz said the town is not immune to human trafficking.
“Each of us has a role to play in ending modern-day slavery and creating new futures,” she said. “We are called to bring hope and healing to our deeply fractured world. All of us are influencers...all can engage.”
Willems said his academy empowers participants to resist becoming easy targets. Youth and women are offered confidence to stand up for themselves.
Jerri Wall Yeargan of McPherson attended the event and knows how prevalent women’s abuse is. She volunteered at the Wichita Crisis Center in the 1970s and 1980s and has long considered her self a women’s advocate.
“It was horrifying what was going on and is still going on,” she said. “I had hoped then these gatherings wouldn’t still have to be taking place. We need to talk about it and bring it more to the attention of everyone, especially in small towns when we think we’re sheltered from this kind of abuse.”
Page 2 of 2 - Carter hopes to have a bigger turnout next year and raise more awareness about women’s abuse. Until then, she hopes a sign near the McPherson County Courthouse on Kansas Avenue raises the curiosity of passersby.
“And even if we don’t make an impact in a physical way, we can make an impact in a spiritual way,” she said.
To learn more, visit onebillionrising.org.
Contact Jenae Pauls at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel