The title of this piece is inspired by the first of four core beliefs of a beautifully focused, globally engaged non-profit known as V-Day. Founded by Eve Ensler, the celebrated author of a truly great piece of performance art known as The Vagina Monologues, the focus of V-Day is the empowerment of women around the world, with a particular emphasis on ending violence aimed at women.
Four Core Beliefs of V-Day
- Art has the power to transform thinking and inspire people to act
- Lasting social and an cultural change is spread by ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
- Local women best know what their communities need and can become unstoppable leaders
- One must look at the intersection of race, class, and gender to understand violence against women
As we move further into the 21st century, the number of civilization scale challenges we face is unprecedented. Seven billion plus humans are competing for a share of our earth’s rapidly diminishing resources. Economic and social inequality remain rampant. Outright discrimination is a huge factor in the lives of well over half the world’s population. The culturally ingrained oppression of women continues to be a particularly corrosive fact of life. We believe the path to a sustainable, dignified future for humanity requires that, to the extent possible, all forms of discrimination must be eliminated. Equal opportunity and fair treatment must become more than just a platitude. The empowerment of women in the economic and political arenas is critical to achieving this goal. V-Day is a global beacon for the rights and dignity of women.
In February, 2014, V-Day’s One Billion Rising campaign was launched as a worldwide awakening on discrimination and violence against women. V-Day doesn’t take the easy road. One of their principle focuses is the ongoing genocide and violence against women in the African Congo. Violence and cruelty are an everyday part of life, particularly in the mostly lawless eastern region of the Congo. On a daily basis, the women of that region are a primary target for roaming bands of armed thugs, who use rape as a weapon of terror. For V-Day, there are certainly easier places where they could make a difference. We can’t say enough about their commitment to stand with the women of the Congo. The fact is the entire African continent has been used and abused for two centuries by Europeans, and later Americans, who colonized and exploited its human, biological, and mineral resources. Perhaps the most egregious example happened late in the 19th century, when Leopold, the King of Belgium, had the audacity to claim the Congo, an area nearly as large as all of Europe combined, not for his country, but for himself. Starting in the mid-20th century, the European nations abandoned their African colonies. The whole continent has, for the most part, been a politically dysfunctional quagmire ever since.
We are deeply concerned not just about the people of the Congo, but also about the other living wild animal species in that nation, many of which can be found almost no where else in the world. The Congo wildlife legacy is severely threatened by human population growth. Despite the ongoing genocide, the population in the Congo is expanding at a rate of nearly 3% annually. As of 2013, the population was about 75 million, up 350% from where it was 50 years ago. Moreover, a very substantial share of the Congo population depends on bushmeat (wild animals killed for food) for survival. As a consequence, in many parts of the Congo, wild animal numbers are plummeting. This includes gorillas, chimpanzees, and other primates; the closest living relatives to humans.
Despite the severe nature of the challenges, the Congo is a place worth saving. V-Day is committed to that goal. We share their desire to make a difference. ‘Art has the power to transform thinking and inspire people to act.’ That is a core principle for V-Day, and that is the sentiment that motivates us as well to stand with V-Day in the fight for justice and equality for women everywhere..