When Eve Ensler first travelled to Eastern DRC in 2007 on invitation from Dr. Denis Mukwege of Panzi Hospital to meet with and learn from women survivors of violence, she was most interested in knowing what solutions they felt would work in the face of such horrible violence. It was these women who birthed the idea of the City of Joy, saying what they most wanted was a place to live in community so that they could heal – in essence, they wanted a place to turn their pain to power. And so the City of Joy was born. Under the leadership of Christine Schuler Deschryver and with support from Unicef, construction for the City of Joy began in August 2009, down the road from Panzi Hospital.
V-Day opened the City of Joy with a high-profile ceremony in February 2011 and the first class of women began in June 2011.