Playwright, activist, performer, and feminist Eve Ensler, best known for her play “The Vagina Monologues,” will be the keynote speaker at the first Women’s Mental Health Conference at Yale to be held Friday, October 25, 2019, at Yale School of Medicine, 333 Cedar St. The full day’s conference activities are now fully subscribed and registration is closed. However, Ensler’s talk, titled, “Women: Moving From Surviving to Thriving,” and a free book signing to follow, do not require registration and the public is welcome. The talk will begin at 10:15 a.m. in Mary S. Harkness Auditorium at Sterling Hall of Medicine. The Yale Bookstore will make Ensler’s books available for purchase outside the auditorium.
Ensler is globally renowned for her advocacy work on behalf of women. In 1998 she launched V-Day, a movement to stop physical and sexual violence against women and girls. She has raised tens of millions of dollars to prevent violence and protect abused women.
Ensler and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Denis Mukwege also co-founded City of Joy, a transformational leadership community for women survivors of violence in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. A 2016 Netflix documentary of City of Joy follows the powerful journey of Congolese women survivors at the safe haven in violence-torn Congo. In 2019, Ensler also released her latest book, The Apology, which imagines a letter of apology that Ensler has longed to receive from her deceased father, who sexually abused her in childhood.
“It is an honor and a privilege to have her come to Yale,” said conference organizer Jacob Lister, an MD/PhD student at Yale School of Medicine who plans to specialize in child and adolescent psychiatry. “It’s particularly exciting that she will be addressing this conference directly – speaking from her vast wisdom and experience advocating for women’s health and creatively expressing her own experiences, struggles, and processes of resilience.”
Ensler said she plans to discuss a range of topics during her keynote address, but that the theme will center on the mental health consequences of gender-based violence. She praised the conference organizers for providing a forum to discuss topics such as sexual trauma, interpersonal violence, women’s mental health, and intersectionality.
“The mental health of women always seems to be the last thing anyone thinks about when it is smack in the center of the story. It impacts every aspect of our emotional, social, physical, and psychological well being. It determines how we act, how we feel, how we think, or if we can think at all.” Ensler said. “I am so proud of the young women who have initiated this conference and I am thrilled to be joining them in creating an ethics and community of care for women at Yale.”