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Frustrated by the lack of response from the international community to what activist and playwright Eve Ensler calls Congo’s “femicide”, she’s attempting to create a revolution. Last February, Ensler celebrated the opening of the City of Joy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and will welcome the first residents later this month.

“I’ve been to every parliament and I’m done with them,” she says. “My energy will be spent from this point forward building a revolution and supporting the women on the ground to take back their own independence and power.”

The City of Joy, conceived, built and run by Congolese women, created by V-Day and supported by UNICEF, is a mini-town where Congolese women come to regain themselves and repair their lives. It is structured to house 90 women at a time, three from each village, all survivors of sexual violence.

For a period of six months the women will be given therapy to rebuild their mutilated sense of worth, and be trained in computer skills, their legal rights, agriculture, construction, leadership and other skills. The complex has several houses, fields and gardens, a grass courtyard where children can play, a large kitchen, dining room, administration, storage and rooms for therapy, theatre and arts. In five years, 1000 women will have been healed and returned to their villages to open mini-centers where they can pass on what they’ve learned.

“We are going to see a massive shift in the Congo very soon,” says Ensler. “When women leave [the City of Joy], they will have turned their pain into power.”

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