V-Day, the gala benefit performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, opened to a sold out crowd of 18,000 at Madison Square Gardens Saturday evening. Actors and musicians, including Jane Fonda (who donated $1 million to the event), Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei, Rosie Perez, Claire Danes, and Queen Latifah, performed the Monologues, raising awareness to stop violence against women. As part of the V-day festivities, Oprah Winfrey performed Ensler’s tribute to Afghan women, entitled Under the Burqa.
In 1996, the Taliban, overthrew the government of Afghanistan and unilaterally declared an end to women’s basic human rights. Women can now no longer work outside of the home. Girls and women are prohibited from attending school. In addition, women are required to completely cover their bodies with a burqa including a mesh covering over the eyes. Ensler wrote Under the Burqa after visiting Afghanistan 8 months ago. During the evening, thousands of people signed petitions for the Feminist Majority’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan. Many in the audience wore burqa swatches as a symbol of remembrance for Afghan women and girls.