On 24 November, the Auckland Harbor Bridge was lit up orange to recognize the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the Zonta Club of Auckland Inc’s Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign.
To mark the occasion, the club held a “Light the Bridge Orange” dinner at the New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Special attendees included Zonta International Honorary Members Dame Silvia Cartwright and Dr. Marilyn Waring.
Past District 16 Governor Maureen Heine presented, linking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, ending child marriage and Zonta International’s service project to end child marriage.
She concluded her presentation by discussing New Zealand legislation enacted this year to prevent forced marriages of mostly girls, aged 16 and 17, who are considered minors by the state. The law now requires 16- and 17-year-olds who want to marry or enter into a civil union or de facto relationship to obtain the consent of a family court judge.
Other speakers included Dr. Pani Farvid, a senior lecturer at Auckland University of Technology, and Jan Logie, a member of the New Zealand House of Representatives.
The evening enabled the Zonta Club of Auckland Inc to draw attention to the issue of child marriage and look at ways to address violence against women in New Zealand.
Farvid, who is widely published and a well-known academic media commentator on issues related to gender, sexuality, sexism, relations and psychology, looked at primary prevention strategies for addressing gender-based violence.
She advocated for gender equality education in schools that challenged the rigid binary model of masculinity and femininity and outlined the damaging effects of gender stereotypes—particularly macho masculinity, which creates high levels of men’s violence against men and women.
Farvid also noted that violence against women is preventable and that to end it, we must change enduring (sexist) norms and beliefs about the nature of gender and men’s and women’s roles, psychologies, abilities and sensibilities. Farvid also noted that men need to become more than allies in the fight against gender-based violence and lead the charge in changing violent masculinities.
Logie, who was appointed parliamentary undersecretary to the minister of justice with a focus on domestic and sexual violence issues, reported that family and sexual violence are endemic in New Zealand and have huge consequences. However, she believes the challenge to address these issues is not insurmountable and is something we can fix if we choose to do so.
She covered what the present government has achieved in the past year to address family violence and its victims and to stop the forced marriage of young people and how it is looking to progress the set of recommendations received from the UN Committee on the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Finally, Logie announced the joint venture approach to address family violence and sexual violence across governments, bringing together the chief executives of 10 agencies to take collective responsibility for developing a national strategy on family violence and sexual violence, and reporting publicly on our progress.
She highlighted that it takes all of us to make this work. Logie believes that together, we will end child marriage and every other form of family violence and sexual violence in our society, creating a future where violence is truly an aberration.