Why V-Day Started
- Charles Isherwood, The New York Times
In 1994, a play called The Vagina Monologues, written by playwright and activist Eve Ensler, broke ground, offering to the world a piece of art like nothing it had seen before. Based on dozens of interviews Ensler conducted with women, the play addressed women's sexuality and the social stigma surrounding rape and abuse, creating a new conversation about and with women. The Vagina Monologues ran Off-Broadway for five years in New York and then toured the United States. After every performance, Ensler found women waiting to share their own stories of survival, leading her to see that The Vagina Monologues could be more than a moving work of art on violence; she divined that the performances could be a mechanism for moving people to act to end violence.
On Valentines Day, 1998, Eve, with a group of women in New York City, established V-Day. Set up as a 501(c)(3) and originally staffed by volunteers, the organization's seed money came from a star-studded, sold out benefit performance at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, a show that raised $250,000 in a single evening.
V-Day's mission is simple. It demands that violence against women and girls must end. To do this, once a year, in February, Eve allows groups around the world to produce a performance of the play, as well as other works created by V-Day, and use the proceeds for local individual projects and programs that work to end violence against women and girls, often shelters and rape crisis centers. What began as one event in New York City in 1998 today includes over 5,800 V-Day events annually.
Performance is just the beginning. V-Day stages large-scale benefits and produces innovative gatherings, films and campaigns to educate and change social attitudes towards violence against women.