March marks the end of the annual V-Day season as the last local groups at colleges and community and religious centers perform their renditions of playwright and activist Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues. First performed nearly 15 years ago, the monologues were created through interviews with women around the world. Ensler compiled composite vignettes, which explore the lives of women. V-Day campaigns have grown out of the Vagina Monologues movement and serve as the activism center of the movement.
Each year, Ensler creates a new spotlight vignette, dedicated to women in a specific region. Ensler’s advocacy and commitment to supporting women in Congo has often shown through in the monologues, especially in 2009/2010 when Congo was a Spotlight campaign of V-Day, in connection with the launch of V-Day’s City of Joy in Bukavu. The program now includes a permanent Congo monologue.
This year’s spotlight performance revisits the Congo again, titled “For My Sisters in PortAuPrinceBukavuNewOrleans.” It focuses on the common causes of gender-based violence in the Congo, Haiti, and post-Katrina New Orleans. The introduction to this year’s spotlight monologue speaks to the linked struggles of women around the world:
Since 1998, V-Day, the global movement that grew out of Eve Ensler's play The Vagina Monologues, has focused its attention on areas of the world where women and girls are the most vulnerable. As V-Day approaches its fifteenth year of activism, we are spotlighting the common history of racism, poverty, slavery, colonialism and war that has thrown women into an endless cycle of violence and disempowerment. V-Day's work in the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo, post-Katrina-New Orleans, and the earthquake devastated country of Haiti is to reveal the links between these issues and support women on the ground who are struggling for liberation and a violence-free future.
Among readers of Enough Said, the endemic nature of sexual violence in Congo is well known. What Eve Ensler and her team at the City of Joy in Bukavu, South Kivu are trying to do is help survivors create for themselves a more hopeful future. Through a partnership between V-Day and the Fondation Panzi (DRC), the women receive counseling services, education, and vocational training in a nurturing environment, to help equip them for the challenges that lie ahead as they return to communities that often ostracize survivors. In January, the City of Joy graduated its inaugural class. Click below for a slideshow by V-Day from the celebration:
Visit the V-Day website to find the next performance of the Vagina Monologue near you.
Photos of City of Joy graduation, taken by Paula Allen, used courtesy of V-Day.