In 1994, a play called The Vagina Monologues, written by playwright and activist V (formerly Eve Ensler), broke ground, offering to the world a piece of art like nothing it had seen before. Based on dozens of interviews V 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, V 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 Valentine’s Day 1998, V, 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 for local anti-violence groups including Safe Horizon, and Sakhi.
V-Day’s mission is simple. It demands that violence against all women, girls and the planet must end.
Through V-Day campaigns, local volunteers and college students produce annual benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues and A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer to raise awareness and funds for anti-violence groups within their own communities. Each year, thousands of V-Day benefit events take 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.
READ MORE about the Movement:
SAY IT, STAGE IT: V-DAY AT TWENTY By Susan Celia Swan and Purva Panday Cullman, from the 20th Anniversary Edition of The Vagina Monologues, by V (formerly Eve Ensler).