Ten years ago, hundreds of people – local Congolese, dignitaries, activists and supporters from across the globe – gathered in Bukavu to celebrate the opening of the City Of Joy, a revolutionary leadership center for women survivors of gender violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, co-founded by Christine Schuler Deschryver (City of Joy Director and Director of V-Day Congo), Dr. Denis Mukwege (Nobel Laureate and Founder of the Panzi Hospital), and V (formerly Eve Ensler, Founder of V-Day and One Billion Rising, playwright and activist).
It was joyous. Filled with laughter. Brimming with hope.
Ten years later, the City of Joy is thriving, with a network of over 1500 women graduates who are transforming the very fabric of Congolese society and inspiring women everywhere. Designed by Congolese survivors, it is a place where women turn their pain into power. A place that restores women’s sense of agency over their lives as they learn real, practical life skills to feed their futures, and connects them to the global V-Day movement, one billion strong. From the return of warmth and joy into women’s lives, to a reconnection to their bodies, to the feeling of empowerment each woman feels when she masters a new skill or acquires life-changing knowledge, the City of Joy gives women a platform to transform their pasts into fuel for a revolution of the mind, body, and community.
A woman who comes through the City of Joy is forever changed by it. She laughs more, she leads more, she gives more. 10 years of joy and counting… With gratitude for everyone who made the vision of City of Joy a reality, who have been the wind at our backs. It means the world to us.
Join us. Support us. Follow us: cityofjoycongo.org
Today we rise to end Female Genital Mutilation, a practice that puts over 4 million girls each year at the risk of undergoing FGM, as a prerequisite for early marriage.
Women and girls are RISING to end FGM, creating a world where girls can thrive rather than merely survive. We stand with survivors and with all women and girls at risk of female genital mutilation, and the activists working every day to end it.
Lockdowns and school closures have left many girls vulnerable to “the cut” in communities facing rising economic pressures during the pandemic, and that see the practice as a prerequisite for marriage and rite of passage.
In Kenya, Tasaru Ntomonok is a grassroots initiative that created and runs the V-Day Safe House For The Girls in the southern Rift Valley in Narok County, providing shelter and educating girls running away from “the cut” and early childhood marriage. Led by Agnes Pareyio, the founder of Tasaru Ntomonok, Chair of the Anti-FGM Board of Kenya, and UN Person of the Year for Kenya (2005), Agnes and her team bravely confront the cultural practice of FGM in the Maasai community in Kenya and have won many hard-earned victories, influencing community members to take on alternative rite of passage rituals, and educating women and men alike about the power of an educated girl. Each year, hundreds of girls’ lives – and that of their families – are transformed because of their work and vision.
We Rise To End FGM everywhere in the world. We encourage V-Day and 1 Billion Rising activists to support activists and groups in their communities who are fighting for laws to end FGM, who provide services for survivors and education for communities to allow young girls to thrive, to live without the cut.
Variety covered Kerry Washington in conversation with V-Day VOICES Artistic Director Aja Monet on Instagram Live on 25 January. Kerry speaks about how being on the V-Board really changed her life.
“Kerry Washington, in conversation with Voices Artistic Creative Director Aja Monet, explained how The Vagina Monologues connected her ambitions as an actor and activist. ‘Once I became a professional actor … the path for connecting activism and art wasn’t always clear for me,’ Washington said in an Instagram Live. Then she met the community of women behind ‘The Vagina Monologues.’ ‘I was like, “Oh! I found my people,”‘ she said.
‘The Vagina Monologues‘ typically serves as the feature production of global activist nonprofit V-Day, which works to end violence against women, girls and the planet. The organization is now pivoting to Voices, an interdisciplinary performance art project and campaign rooted in Black women’s stories, including cis women, trans women, and nonbinary and gender fluid people from the African diaspora and continent.”
Rising Gardens is a defiant, creative call for revival, restoration and transformation. Rising Gardens is a compassionate call for justice – because one of the greatest injustices of our time has been the destruction of Mother Earth. As we seek to roll back this damage and end escalating gender-based violence, we will plant and nurture and grow.
RISE, GARDEN, RESIST. Visit onebillionrising.org
Read about the 2021 theme, Rising Gardens
Check out One Billion Rising’s blog for inspiration from global coordinators around the world