Since 1996, sexual violence against women and girls in Eastern DRC has been used as a weapon of war to torture, humiliate and destroy not only women and girls, but entire families and communities.
Hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped due to conflict in the region. The V-Day movement and UNICEF (in partnership with UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict) are engaged in a global campaign to bring much needed attention to the needs of Congolese women and girls.
On the ground, women survivors are coming together and breaking the silence. Dr. Mukwege and Ms. Ensler speak about violence against women, the efforts underway to end it, and their work toward supporting a new wave of women leaders in the region.
They discuss what it takes to economically and socially empower women and girls so that they can become leaders in rebuilding their country.
Eve Ensler is an American playwright, performer, feminist and activist, best known for her play The Vagina Monologues.
Ensler's The Vagina Monologues has been translated into over 45 languages and is running in theaters all over the world, including sold-out runs at both Off-Broadway's Westside Theater and on London's West End (2002 Olivier Award nomination, Best Entertainment).
Ensler has devoted her life to stopping violence, envisioning a planet in which women and girls will be free to thrive, rather than merely survive. The Vagina Monologues is based on Ensler's interviews with more than 200 women. With humor and grace, the piece celebrates women's sexuality and strength.
Ensler's play Necessary Targets, set in a Bosnian refugee camp, opened Off-Broadway at the Variety Arts Theater in February 2002, after a hit run at Hartford Stage. Other plays include Conviction, Lemonade, The Depot, Floating Rhoda and the Glue Man, and Extraordinary Measures. The Good Body, The Vagina Monologues and Necessary Targets have been published by Villard/Random House. Vagina Warriors, words by Eve Ensler and photos by Joyce Tenneson, was published by Bulfinch Press for V-Day 2005.
Her first book Insecure At Last: A Political Memoir was published by Random House in 2007. Her most recent book, I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World, was published in January 2011.
Ensler is the recipient of many awards including the Guggenheim Fellowship Award in Playwriting, the Berrilla-Kerr Award for Playwriting, the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Solo Performance, and the Jury Award for Theater at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, as well as the 2002 Amnesty International Media Spotlight Award for Leadership and The Matrix Award (2002).
She has received numerous Honorary degrees, including Doctor of Letters from her alma mater, Middlebury College.
Dr. Denis Mukwege
Denis Mukwege (born circa 1955) is a Congolese gynecologist. Working in Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where he specializes in the treatment of women who have been gang-raped by Congolese militia, Mukwege has probably become the world's leading expert on how to repair the internal physical damage caused by gang rape.
He has treated 21,000 women during the Congo's 12-year war, some of them more than once, performing up to 10 surgeries a day during his 18-hour working days.