V to the Tenth!
In Africa, the Middle East and Asia, V-Day commits ongoing support to build movements and anti-violence networks. Among its work:
• funding the first shelters for women in Egypt and Iraq;
• sponsoring annual workshops and three national campaigns in Afghanistan;
• convening the Confronting Violence conference of South Asian women leaders;
• donating satellite phones to Afghan women to keep lines of communication open and action plans moving forward.
Ensler started V-Day in 1998 with proceeds from her ever-evolving and wildly successful play, “The Vagina Monologues.” Once a year, in February and March, Ensler allows groups around the world to produce a performance of the play and use the proceeds for individual programs that work to end violence against women and girls (often shelters and rape crisis cetners). Just about any group can sign on to do its own performance, but there’s an application process where the group leader is required to outline the mission of the group and its plans for using any money it raises.
Once approved, the group receives a specially written script, along with resources and guidelines for ensuring a smooth and lucrative production. After channeling 10 percent of its net proceeds back to V-Day to benefit groups in its Spotlight Campaign, the group then is free to use the rest for its approved projects.
More than 2,000 V-Day benefits took place in 950 communities and on college campuses around the world in 2007. Ensler calls it self-empowered philanthropy.
“V-Day is not a foundation; I think of it as a movement,” she says. “A foundation implies a fixed hierarchy and a fixed place, and V-Day doesn’t exist in a fixed place. We’re virtual; we don’t really have an office.
“Really what we are is a self-empowered movement,” she adds. “We’ve been able in the last 10 years to raise $50 million. But that has come from grassroots groups around the world — individual grassroots groups, thousands and thousands of them — doing the play, raising the money and keeping the money. And that also comes from being able to give direct support to self-empowered groups around the world who know what they’re doing and … all they need is more resources to do it.”
- People Magazine