To take advocacy from awareness into action was the main goal of the 2015 Zonta Says NO-activity of Zonta Club of Mainz, Germany.
The club joined forces with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a globally active German organization promoting democracy, societal education and pluralism, which provided the platform of a forum on “Combating Sexual Violence against Women and Girls” with focus on rape in wartime.
The forum had three parts. In the first part, Maria von Welser, a well known German author and journalist, introduced the audience to her new book “Where Women Don’t Count”, accompanied by a documentation on her field visits to Afghanistan, India and the Congo, as she said, the three most dangerous countries for women. The pictures from her trip underlined the alarming and worrisome report of what she had experienced, all of which constitute severe violations of women’s human rights.
In the second part, professionals from Women Shelter, UN Women Nat. Com. Germany, the 24-hours hotline of the city of Mainz and experienced Zonta members discussed in a panel, root causes of violence against women and domestic violence, and the female’s subordinate status in society, with focus on refugee women who had suffered all kinds of physically and sexually abuse during their escape and in the refugee camps. Groundbreaking international instruments were discussed like the UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, as well as the UN Resolution 1820, which notes that rape and other forms of sexual violence constitute war crimes and will be prosecuted.
The third part of the forum featured the “Istanbul Convention and its significance in the fight of VAW. Embedded in this report was the open petition of all German Zonta Clubs during the 16 Days of Activism, which urges the German Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention in the current legislation period. Papers were prepared and handed out to the audience for signature with impressive results. Another great effect of this forum was gaining visibility and raising awareness of Zonta International amongst the audience and in the media, networking with like minded organizations for the same cause and the generous donations to the ZISVAW Project “Voices against Violence”. The petition result with all collected signatures will be handed over to the German Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.