V-Day Celebrates the Opening of City of Joy
On Friday, February 4th, the opening of the City of Joy brought thousands of Congolese women and men, local women's groups and grassroots activists, regional dignitaries including South Kivu Governor Marcellin Cishambo Ruhoya, V-Day Congo Director/Director of City of Joy Christine Schuler Deschryver, Panzi Hospital's Dr. Denis Mukwege, City of Joy construction crew members, and residents and staff of City of Joy together with national and international activists, politicians and supporters, including V-Day Founder Eve Ensler, UN Messenger of Peace and V-Day supporter Charlize Theron, U.S. Ambassador on Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer, U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, UN Special Envoy Margot Wallström, UNICEF DRC Representative a.i. Philippe Heffinck, V-Day Board Members Rosario Dawson, Carole Black, Pat Mitchell, Emily Scott Pottruck, my Rao, and Susan Celia Swan (V-Day's Managing Director), V-Day Supporters Dylan McDermott, Naomi Klein, and Thandie Newton, Congolese Ambassador to the U.S. Faida Mitifu, AIDS Free World Co-Founder Stephen Lewis, and V-Day staff including Managing Director - Campaigns & Development Cecile Lipworth, Programs & Development Director Purva Panday Cullman, Europe Director Karin Heisecke, and Director of Operations Anthony Montentieri. During the ceremony, Christine Schuler Deschryver was presented with the inaugural "Turning Pain To Power" award.
This incredible and diverse celebration marks the next chapter in V-Day's ongoing global campaign, STOP RAPING OUR GREATEST RESOURCE: Power to the Women and Girls of the DRC, and commences the creation of a sustainable path towards the health and empowerment of Congolese women, providing a powerful new platform to turn their pain to power, and become leaders who will steer Eastern Congo's destiny towards peace.
Starting with the first group, City of Joy will provide up to 180 Congolese women a year with an opportunity to benefit from group therapy; self-defense training; comprehensive sexuality education (covering HIV/AIDS, family planning); economic empowerment; storytelling; dance; theater; ecology and horticulture. Created from their vision, Congolese women will run, operate, and direct City of Joy themselves.
For the last three years, you, our V-Day activists around the world, have taken this issue of violence against women and girls in DRC to your friends, family, neighbors, and communities, raising international awareness and over one million dollars for the STOP RAPING OUR GREATEST RESOURCE campaign and the City of Joy. Through the Congo Spotlight Campaign alone, V-Day organizers around the world came together to raise over $500,000 for City of Joy, with thousands more women, men, girls, and boys showing support by joining V-Day's V-Wall for Congo and letting the women and girls of DRC know that they are not forgotten. It is through your donations, your time, your energy, and your commitment to end the violence that has lead us to this momentous occasion, and so we share this great Victory with you!
Photojournalist Paula Allen, who has been documenting V-Day's Congo work for three years, joined us in Bukavu. VIEW a selection of images from the opening.
Please keep checking vday.org over the next few weeks as we post more about this opening celebration, including more photos and video shot over the opening weekend.
Thank you all from all of us at V-Day!
READ the Press Release >
READ the New York Times article, Fighting Congo's Ills With Education and an Army of Women >
VIEW City of Joy Opening Ceremony Photo Gallery >
Go to vday.org >
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Turning Pain to Power by Marianne Schnall
( Extended Interview with Eve Ensler)
Open Letter to President Elect Barack Obama by Women's Rights Leaders, Including V-Day
From Superdome to SUPERLOVE—V-Day at 10 by Marianne Schnall
Other V-Day Features at Feminist.com:Action Alert: This Just In from Kenya Action Alert: End Sexual Violence in Democratic Republic of Congo V-Day/Feminist.com Anti-Violence Resource Guide
Other Eve Ensler writings at Feminist.com: Interview with Eve EnslerExcerpt from Insecure at LastExcerpt from The Good Body The Real Meaning of Security
About V-Day: V-Day is a global movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler’s award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. In 2008, over 4000 V-Day benefit events took place produced by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $60 million and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, launched the Karama program in the Middle East, reopened shelters, and funded over 10,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic Of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. V-Day was named one of Worth magazine's "100 Best Charities" in 2001 and Marie Claire’s “Top Ten Charities” in 2006. The 'V' in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina.