CHRISTINE SCHULER DESCHRYVER
Christine has called Bukavu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo her home all her life. She oversees all aspects of V-Day’s work on the ground in the DRC, including the City of Joy center, from which the film derives its title, and coordinating campaign activities on the local, provincial, and national levels. She is an internationally renowned human rights activist who has worked as a teacher, an administrator for CARE CANADA, and, for 13 years, as an administrator for the German Technical Cooperation, where she oversaw a staff of over 100. She travels widely advocating for Congolese women’s rights.
DENIS MUKWEGE, MD, PHD
Dr. Denis Mukwege is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital and Foundations. In 1999, Panzi opened amid instability, violence, and an unprecedented epidemic of rape as a weapon of war. A testament to resilience and strength, the Panzi model he developed grew into a globally renowned, groundbreaking holistic healing center. Dr. Mukwege’s vision and methods provide medical care in concert with psychosocial services, literacy and vocational training, legal assistance, family and community reintegration services. With other surgeons, physicians, clinicians, and nearly 500 staff at Panzi Hospital and Foundations – more than 48,482 survivors of sexual violence have been patients in the innovative holistic healing programs. He has received numerous awards for his human rights work, including the European Parliament’s 2014 Sakharov Prize.
A 2016 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Dr. Mukwege sits on the advisory committee for the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict, and is an Icon on the 2016 TIME 100 list by TIME Magazine.
Jane M. was born in the village of Lulingu, in Shabunda. Lulingu is one of the territories of South-Kivu and one of the worst places for women to be born and live. It is a place where assault and battery, kidnapping, murder and rape are seen at their heights.
In July 2005, after being physically and psychologically destroyed, Jane was driven to the hospital in Bukavu, 350 miles from her village. She underwent 9 surgeries to try and repair the damage that was done to her body due to the atrocities she survived. During her long hospital stay Jane became determined to turn her life around and committed herself to helping other women who had undergone similar injustices – she imaged creating a shelter of sorts for them. However, she kept these dreams to herself. During a chance encounter in May 2007, when Eve Ensler was visiting Panzi Hospital, Jane revealed her deepest desire to Eve – to build a place for women survivors to live together so that they can heal, transform and lead. Meeting all of the criteria for admittance, when the City of Joy opened its doors Jane was one of the first class of women. Throughout her training at City of Joy, Jane proved that change is possible even after a long period of uncertainty, isolation, hopelessness and anger. Jane arrived at the City of Joy illiterate but left, after 6 months, able to read, write, and count money. She also became an expert at launching self-help projects. Graduating from City of Joy gave her skills that she could parlay into rebuilding a life for herself – she joined the staff and serves as a strong example for other women living there. Jane was able to buy a plot of land and build a small house. She calls herself a new creature now. While she called herself Jean before City of Joy, she now calls herself Jane.
Eve Ensler is the Tony Award winning playwright, activist, performer and author of the theatrical phenomenon and Obie winning, The Vagina Monologues, which has been published in 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Eve’s plays include Necessary Targets, OPC, The Good Body, and Emotional Creature. Her books include Insecure At Last: A Political Memoir; the New York Times best seller I Am An Emotional Creature, and her latest critically acclaimed memoir In the Body of the World which she recently adapted, debuted and performed at American Repertory Theatre to rave reviews directed by Diane Paulus. Her play, Fruit Trilogy was performed at the Women of the World Festival in London and The West Yorkshire Playhouse in March of 2016. Eve is founder of V-Day, almost 20 year old global activist movement to end violence against women and girls which has raised over 100 million dollars to end violence and One Billion Rising, a global mass action campaign in over 200 countries. She is a co-founder of the City of Joy, a revolutionary center for women survivors of violence in the DRC, along with Christine Schuler Deschyrver and Dr. Denis Mukwege. She writes for The Guardian, TIME Magazine, and The New York Times. She was named one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Changed the World” and The Guardian’s “100 Most Influential Women.”
Photo Credit: Paula J. Allen