None other than Eve Ensler—writer, activist, inspirational founder of V-DAY, a movement to end violence against women—brought this message to the Skoll World Forum and received a standing ovation (rare at Skoll) in appreciation for the power of her words and the stories she shared.
She wove together her own personal story with the extraordinary story of V-DAY, which Eve started in response to the reactions she received to her groundbreaking play, The Vagina Monologues. Eve donated the rights to perform that play as a way to raise funds for local activists and organizations working to end violence in their communities...and this innovative model for fundraising has raised more money to fight violence than any other organization, including the United Nations. Nearly 100 million dollars has been raised in less than 15 years and all of it stayed in the local communities.
Every year there are more performances, more V-DAY events, more funds raised in more countries than ever--this year, more than 5000 events in more than 100 countries, including thousands of schools. V-DAY has filled Madison Square Garden, reclaimed the Superdome in New Orleans, and supported the women in Congo to build a City of Joy in the middle of a war zone—disruptive and risky, to say the least.
At Skoll, Eve called for the biggest V-DAY campaign ever: a disruptive action called One Billion Rising!
Responding to the UN's report that more than one billion women will be raped or brutalized in their lifetime. (That shocking number, by the way, doesn't even include family violence, cultural, social, or political violence.) Think of it: if one billion whales, or anything else, were being violated or destroyed, the world would rise up and protest and demand an end to violence. Yet, year after year, as Eve reminded us, women and girls on every continent, in ever country, lose their lives to violence. Eve is calling on one billion women and men to join in a global action and dance! Yes, dance! To dance in our homes, our offices, our streets, our villages, our cities--united in our call to end violence.
Why dance? It’s an action that will be distinct, unique in every culture and country; it can be individual or collective, but dancing takes up space and is a celebration as well as protest. after eve’s talk, people began planning their dancing actions and I am confident that many of the participants will be rising, dancing and being a disrupter and risktaker to try to reduce the risks for women and girls to become one of the billion victims.
Eve’s boldness and her total personal commitment to keep pushing us out of our comfort zones, challenging us to be bolder and more audacious comes from her own experiences, some of which she shared with us at the TEDWomen conference in 2010.