A profile of V-Day: Standing up for women’s rights

Marie Jeruc

As a result from the success of the play The Vagina Monologues, the organization V-Day emerged as an advocacy organization for women’s rights. To date, V-Day chapters exist in over 140 countries worldwide.

Lawrence’s chapter of the V-Day national organization strives to bring awareness to women’s rights, violence, gender discrimination and gender inequality.

Student president Tamanna Hossain ’12 hopes to make student involvement in V-Day easier and more frequent. The group plans to publish a weekly newsletter, which will bring awareness to current issues regarding women’s rights and violence.

Says Hossain, “One problem about Lawrence is that we kind of live in a bubble. There’s not a lot of gender discrimination here, and it’s kind of easy to forget that the real world isn’t always like that.”

Hossain hopes that the weekly newsletter will serve as a reminder of the reality of sexual violence and discrimination, even if we cannot always see it in our own community. By simply being more aware of sexual violence cases or updated statistics, the community can advocate for victims of violence.

Hossain also revealed that V-Day plans on selling buttons for abortion awareness in the near future. These buttons will be sold in the Warch Campus Center outside Andrew Commons or the mail room

Additionally, V-Day will sponsor the screening of two documentaries. One documentary, about violence against women in prisons, will be shown around the sixth week of this term. The other will be screened during Spring Term.

Through all of these outlets, V-Day works to “promote social and cultural issues in both the U.S. and in other parts of the world,” says V-Day member Sam Smith ’12.

Said Smith, “It’s important to have a social activist group on campus because it allows students to get involved in the community. There is value in making an issue out in the open and heard about.”

Along with its activist approach, V-Day also tries to inspire others and share stories through art. Since it originated from an artistic medium, a play, it still continues to communicate stories and messages through artistic means.

For example, Smith mentioned “Poetry and Chocolate,” a benefit event that occurred last year created to help end gender violence. This event encouraged collaboration between music compositions, songs, poems and visual art.

While this event brought awareness to this issue and encouraged artistic creativity, it also highlighted the value of collaboration between V-Day and other groups. Smith enjoys “knowing that there are other groups that enjoy working with us.”

Hossain even wants the organization to extend its collaborative efforts to help the demographic for which they advocate. Hossain hopes to engage in “collaborative efforts with the Sexual Assault Crisis Center.”

This collaboration could provide the training necessary to help counsel women and children who have been victims of sexual abuse or violence. It would also provide another way for Lawrence students to be involved in V-Day’s mission and volunteer in the local community.

Smith also agrees with the importance of involvement within Lawrence and within the local community. Says Smith, “You’re giving to the community and educating them, and then you’re giving back with their money to people in your community and on a national level.”

If you are interested in learning more about future events sponsored by V-Day, or wish to attend group meetings, contact Tamanna Hossain at tamanna.t.hossain@lawrence.edu.