On December 19, 2017, City of Joy graduated 90 formidable women leaders. The joy that came to the graduates and participants in the ceremony was immeasurable. The day was full of demonstrations. It was full of surprise. It was special and remains unique in the life of each graduate who was proud to celebrate herself and her femininity as a Vagina Warrior. These 90 women, who join the 938 others in 64 rural areas in 4 provinces of DRC, have demonstrated through speeches, dance, and humor how their lives changed from pain to power. They are determined to join their villages to make a difference — not just a small difference, but a big and critical one.
The day was proof that 90 woman who have spent 6 full months at City of Joy have become incredible role models for their country’s women and girls, and men and boys too. They will serve as an inspiration across tribes, gender and communities.
The Vice President of the Provincial Assembly and the Minister of Health, Gender, Family and Child was among the invitees. They were overwhelmed by the fascinating achievements of City of Joy in six years and the impact of the V-World farm on the attainment of City of Joy’s goals. These authorities promised to go to the farm to see the reality on the ground. The Minister spoke about how “other organizations should get inspiration from V-DAY to help mend lives and profit from what nature offers freely.”
During the graduation ceremony, the 12th class graduates explained with fierce, elegant, openness and power how the 6 month stay and empowerment had helped them break glass ceilings, push the frontiers of women’s leadership and pave the path for other women and girls to follow in their footsteps and become future leaders.
The graduates’ testimonies and demonstrations have proved that they are committed to denouncing all inequalities that continue to perpetuate gender imbalance and thus weigh women down in their communities. They promised that they will make their voices heard when it comes to local and national policy and program making in development, in peace and security, in humanitarian action and resilience building, in the promotion and protection of human rights and in climate change action. So they will put all the ingredients of the City of Joy program into play.
In her speech, one graduate said “…When a woman’s voice is heard, when she participates in decision making and when she exercises leadership, she most likely brings something unique, special and of high value and quality to key decisions.”
The power that women got in 6 months is an inspiration to us. Through them we see that we have made some important strides. That is why we will keep on working towards a better day for women and girls.
We are thankful to Eve Ensler and V-Day. Our work is only possible with her support and V-Day’s care. Thank you for believing in the City of Joy, for desiring it sufficiently, and for creating it. We are grateful to the V-Day team for believing—passionately, relentlessly, unequivocally—in what we are doing and the road that lies ahead. Thank you for making the dream of City of Joy come true, and for making it possible.
With immense gratitude,
Christine Schuler Deschryver