100th International Women's Day

by Eve Ensler

Author of 'I Am An Emotional Creature" and "The Vagina Monologues," Founder of V-Day

Posted: March 8, 2011 12:00 AM

For the Builders, the Planters, and the Refusers, on the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day

On this, the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, I want to take a minute to honor grassroots women's activists across the planet -- women, like those working tirelessly in Haiti, who have inspired their communities, united their communities, and led their communities, holding them together and pushing them forward.

Today, I want to particularly honor the women on the ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who have organized and worked for peace and freedom over the many years of conflict that has been fought in their country and on their bodies. On February 4, the women of Congo, in partnership with V-Day and the Fondation Panzi (République Démocratique du Congo), opened the City of Joy, a revolutionary leadership community for survivors of sexual violence that will be the headquarters of a grassroots women's movement in Eastern, DRC.

A group of women, called "Friends of V-Day," built the City of Joy -- they were possibly the first female construction crew in Congolese history. These women mixed the cement, carried loads on their shoulders, made the bricks. They built the City of Joy with their own hands, understanding, with each careful step, that making a world and living in the world are not separate. Each day that the women built, they took time to dance and sing. It was part of the day's work, and now that spirit is literally built into the walls of the City of Joy. These women were aware that it takes a very specific constellation of ingredients to create a community, the way water, sun and earth all come together to build a new world. In the final days before the opening, the women planted grass, blade by blade, on the grounds of the City of Joy. That is how movements are born -- individual green blades, planted one by one, nurtured by water and light, protected until they have grown into grass.

Today, I dedicate my piece, REFUSER, to all the builders, all the grass planters, all the individual, green, sparkling blades of grass. I dedicate it to all the girls and women joining forces across the earth, to create change and revolution. 


From the Lebanese mountains

To the Kenyan village of El Doret 

We are practicing self-defense

Versed in Karate, Tai Chi, Judo, and Kung Foo 

We are no longer surrendering to our fate.

Now, we are the ones who walk our girl friends home from school. 

And we don't do it with macho. We do it with cool.

Our mothers are the Pink Sari Gang 

Fighting off the drunken men

With rose pointed fingers and sticks in

Uttar Pradesh.

The Peshmerga women

in the Kurdish mountains

with barrettes in their hair

and AK47's instead of pocket books.

We are not waiting anymore to be taken and retaken.

We are the Liberian women sitting

in the Africa sun blockading the exits 

til the men figure it out.

We are the Nigerian women

babies strapped to out backs

occupying the oil terminals of Chevron.

We are the women of Kerala

who refused to let Coca Cola

privatize our water.

We are Cindy Sheehan showing up in Crawford without a plan.

We are all those who forfeited husbands boyfriends and dates

Cause we were married to our mission. 

We know love comes from all directions and in many forms.

We are Malalai who spoke back to the Afghan Loya Jurga

And told them they were "raping warlords" and

She kept speaking even when they kept

trying to blow up her house.

And we are Zoya whose radical mother was shot dead when Zoya was only a child so she was fed on revolution which was stronger than milk

And we are the ones who kept and loved our babies

even though they have the faces of our rapists.

We are the girls who stopped cutting ourselves to release the pain

And we are the girls who refused to have our clitoris cut 

And give up our pleasure.

We are: 

Rachel Corrie who wouldn't couldn't move away from the Israeli tank.

Aung San Suu Kyi who still smiles after years of not being able to leave her room.

Anne Frank who survives now cause she wrote down her story.

We are Neda Soltani gunned down by a sniper in the streets of

Tehran as she voiced a new freedom and way

And we are Asmaa Mahfouz from the April 6th movement in Egypt

Who twittered an uprising. 

We are the women riding the high seas to offer

Needy women abortions on ships.

We are women documenting the atrocities

in stadiums with video cameras underneath our Burqas.

We are seventeen and living for a year in a tree

And laying down in the forests to protect wild oaks.

We are out at sea interrupting the whale murders.

We are freegans, vegans, trannies 

But mainly we are refusers.

We don't accept your world

Your rules your wars

We don't accept your cruelty and unkindness.

We don't believe some need to suffer for others to survive

Or that there isn't enough to go around

Or that corporations are the only and best economic arrangement

And we don't hate boys, okay?

That's another bullshit story.

We are refusers

But we crave kissing.

We don't want to do anything before we're ready

but it could be sooner than you think

and we get to decide

and we are not afraid of what is pulsing through us.

It makes us alive.

Don't deny us, criticize us or infantilize us.

We don't accept checkpoints, blockades or air raids

We are obsessed with learning.

On the barren Tsunamied beaches of Sri Lanka

In the desolate and smelly remains

Of the lower ninth

We want school.

We want school.

We want school.

We know if you plan too long

Nothing happens and things get worse and that

Most everything is found in the action

and instinctively we get that the scariest thing

isn't dying, but not trying at all.

And when we finally have our voice

and come together

when we let ourselves gather the knowledge

when we stop turning on each other

but direct our energy towards what matters

when we stop worrying about 

our skinny ass stomachs or too frizzy hair

or fat thighs 

when we stop caring about pleasing

and making everyone so incredibly happy-

We got the Power.


Janis Joplin was nominated the ugliest man on her campus

And they sent Angela Davis to jail 

If Simone Weil had manly virtues

And Joan of Arc was hysterical

If Bella Abzug was eminently obnoxious

And Ellen Sirleaf Johnson is considered scary

If Arundhati Roy is totally intimidating

and Rigoberta Menchu is pathologically intense

And Julia Butterfly Hill is an extremist freak

Call us hysterical then





Eminently obnoxious




Tattoo me


Give us our broomsticks 

And potions on the stove

We are the girls

who are aren't afraid to cook.

"Refuser" is published in Eve's newest work - I AM AN EMOTIONAL CREATURE: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World, just released in paperback from Villard Trade Paperbacks.

Eve Ensler, a playwright and activist, is the founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls. In conjunction with I AM AN EMOTIONAL CREATURE, V-Day has developed a targeted pilot program, V-Girls, to engage young women in our "empowerment philanthropy" model, providing them with a platform to amplify their voices.

Follow Eve Ensler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vdayorg