In 1996, at the invitation of my good friend Glenn Close, I traveled to Sarajevo to report on a play being performed for the victims of the Bosnian war. The play was by Eve Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues. In my first-ever interview with her, she spoke passionately and eloquently, as she always does, about her intention to use theater as a means of raising awareness of the tragic levels of violence against women and girls everywhere in the world. I knew right away that I wanted to commit my time, talent and resources to helping her launch and sustain what she later named the V-Day movement — a movement with the audacious goal of ending violence against women and girls.
In the nearly 20 years since then, we have identified, supported and sustained activists in more than 200 countries who are working toward this goal in their own communities. I have been fortunate enough to travel around the world and to meet these amazing activists, and to witness their extraordinary work. In Kenya, I saw the schools and safe houses that V-day activists provide for girls escaping genital cutting. In the Congo, I witnessed the incredible City of Joy, a community that trains rape victims to become leaders; in doing so, they are turning pain into power.
In 2011, Eve took the movement another step forward with the launch of One Billion Rising, a global call to the activists in every country, every village and town, to rise up, organize, dance together, march together, protest together, the fact that one billion women and girls will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. It is the largest global action against violence that I am aware of, and One Billion Rising continues to call us to rise, to act, to take a stand against injustice and for revolution and change.
We can’t stop until the violence stops.