V-Day, Women's Rights


V-Season is February 14th, Valentine’s Day, through March 8th, International Women’s Day, every year. During V-Season women – and men – around the world come together to raise awareness about violence against women. This year, I signed up to organise a V-Day campaign here in Switzerland. I first tried to reach out to the community in Zurich and when that was unsuccessful, looked into the community I live in, Schaffhausen. Although I was able to recruit ONE woman to work with me, we were unable to recruit more.

I moved to Switzerland in August. I did not have the language, nor the background or connections within the community. In October, I was approved to organise a V-Day campaign and benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues for V-Season 2006. I began to connect via email, telephone, and through meetings in cafes, with women in Germany, Switzerland as well as in the United States. I conducted research on the internet, and through speaking with other women in the community about women’s issues within Switzerland. I found over twenty women’s shelters in the Zurich, Wintertur and Schaffahausen areas alone. Violence against women was an issue here, but I soon discovered that no one wanted to talk about it.

Although I had support from women in this area that were willing to meet up with me to discuss ideas and also put me in touch with other women who may be interested, none of these women were able to commit to the V-Day campaign because they didn’t have time. Although I tried to reassure them that some of the roles within the campaign were not as time consuming as others, no one was willing to take the next step to commit. There were many times I felt defeated, but I kept going. I was not willing to give up so easily. I was praised again and again for my perserverence, but all I wanted was for someone to join the team and help make it happen.

I knew that things didn’t look promising in February when I held an information evening in Schaffhausen and no one showed up. When I told to the event’s main orgniser and support in the US, Cecile, she was not surprised. I, however, felt let down. I had wanted to educate the people in this community so much and this year, it had happened very little. Or had it?

When I thought back at what I had accomplished with my V-Day campaign, I realised that I had accomplished more than I origionally thought. I had in fact educated people within my community. I had educated family, friends and coworkers that had never heard of V-Day or The Vagina Monologues. I had permanent pictures in my mind of women and their reactions when I said THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES. Vagina? I said that word? Out loud? Yes I did. And it opened up great discussions among women and men.

Although I wasn’t able to organise an event here in Schaffhausen or Zurich, I was able to organise many events in which I was educating the women and men in my life that had never been exposed to V-Day before. Women went out and bought the play. Watched the movie. I, myself, became even more educated. I cried as I watched both the DVD of The Vagina Monologues as well as the Documentry of V-Day and how it began. I was able to reflect upon Katie’s attack and visit feelings I had shut away for years. We were able to open a dialogue between us. So, in fact, I had educated many this V-Season, just not in the way that I had intended.

Next year I will be living in London. I will be living in a new community where I know the language. I will be meeting new women and I will be learning about new issues. I will be involved in V-Day. But next year, I would like to join a V-Day campaign being organised by someone else. Perhaps work closely together with someone who has organised it in the past. Next year I would like to audition to perform in The Vagina Monologues. And then, after I have gained experience and grown within the community I am living, I will sign up to be an event organiser again.

There is a job for Amnesty International in London to work on the Stop Violence Against Women Campaign. I can’t apply for it now because I don’t have the experience in the field that they are asking for. But some day, I will. I have found my new goal to work towards. And as I have achieved other large goals in my past, I know I will make it to this one. One step at a time.

This post has been cross posted with my V-Day Zurich 2006 blog, which will now turn into a forum of thoughts and information regarding Women’s Rights and future V-Day involvements.