'Now our campaign is for justice!'

Women Rising

As couples across the globe look forward to February 14 to celebrate Valentine’s Day, this actress-turned-activist looks forward to celebrating V Day too. However, this time she will be presiding over the international campaign – One Billion Rising (OBR) as its director.

Monique Wilson, better known as the famed theatre personality from Philippines, talks to Metrolife about the much-awaited OBR plan for V Day and her personal journey of becoming an activist.

“I saw all of it the last time the world stood up to dance for OBR. We saw a lot of footage from India last year and it actually reached all of us in many other countries,” says Monique who recently visited the country along with the American playwright-
activist Eve Ensler.

What touched her heart the most was when Eve offered her to “produce Vagina Monologues. The play has been a life-changing experience for me and my country. It was because of the play that came the V Day campaign and the OBR. When I was asked to be the director of OBR, I said ‘yes’ without any doubt in my heart,” she says rewinding her past and emphasising that the movement has inspired her personally too. “Now our campaign is for justice!”

About the sweeping response for the previous OBR, Monique says, “We kind of knew that it would touch people in a certain way, but we were overwhelmed to see how creative and how big it became. It was surprising for us to see that groups who were not normally activists were also engaged with it. Seeing all the young people rise was like  seeing the future right in front of you,” says the 43-year old who took to activism at the age of 28.

“You cannot be cynical in this movement,” she says, mentioning that theatre has taught her much in the past 15 years. Speaking highly of Eve, her mentor and her inspiration, Monique says, “Eve taught us many years ago ‘you cannot change the world unless you have the hope and belief in your heart with which you can visualise the future’.” And “it is this that propels us to keep moving forward and advocate to people to do the same, no matter how much sorrow there is in the world. It is in the collective that we have power and global solidarity,”  she adds.

The seeds of her activism, however, were sown long back. “In my home my father was very strict, patriarchal, controlling and fundamental. Ever since I was young, I noticed something unfair about my father controlling my mother. Was it justified, just because he is a man?” The question made her think deeper and the rebel in her fumed when her father denied her permission “to go to the progressive university because he knew that I will be more of an activist!

But the calling was very strong.”

Having met like-minded people, she joined the cause and today is engaged in spreading the message of OBR. “It takes time to change mindsets,” she replies in question to her biggest challenge. “We also have to look at cultures. People are afraid to go out of what they know because that’s what is safe for them. It takes time to set in the change but you cannot stop it and V Day has accelerated it. People have to come into their own realisation.”

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