On the final day of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley, USA, hosted a screening of Crushed Wings at the Santa Clarita International Film Festival (SCIFF). Written, directed and produced by British filmmaker Lalit Bhusal, Crushed Wings portrays the lifelong nightmare of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The club has been associated with the film festival since last year through its Zonta’s Wome in Film initiative. When selecting the films for the festival, Lisa DeSousa, Founder and CEO of SCIFF, immediately thought of Zonta when she viewed Crushed Wings. She understood Zonta’s mission to fight violence against women and girls, including international initiatives against FGM.
Zontians Cherise Moore and Lois Bauccio sat on a panel following the film to interview Lalit, who virtually joined the event from the United Kingdom. During the discussion, Lalit explained that he wanted to make a film about child abuse. People kept telling him about FGM as the ultimate example of abuse entrenched in certain cultures and wrongly attributed to religion. He has created the story of Ria, an innocent and happy seven-year-old village girl who is led to her nightmare by her mother in ignorance. The film goes through her childhood, adolescence, marriage and ultimate metamorphosis into a brave and independent woman. Some actresses in the movie are actual survivors of FGM.
Cherise and Lois explained the importance of ending global FGM and child marriage, which also addresses medical conditions such as obstetric fistula, crushing emotional health disorders and suicide and the social problem of keeping women in a subservient permanent under-class in cultures that practice them.
The Zonta Club of Bowen Inc, Australia, donated a Red Bench to the new Bowen Community Centre to raise awareness of domestic violence and provide an opportunity for this important issue to remain visible.
During the 16 Days of Activism, Zonta Clubs in Belgium united their voices to say NO to violence against women, especially cyber violence. The clubs kicked off the Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign with a press conference and panel discussion at Brussels City Hall.
The club addressed the prevalence of gender-based cyber violence at the press conference. Statistically, 2 in 10 adults using social media have experienced some form of cyber harassment, but the figure is twice as high amongst adolescents. They urged that special attention be paid in the country to not only support and guide victims but also prevent harassment from happening.
Joining Area Director Régine Claeys to speak at the event were UN Women-Brussels Office Director Dagmar Schumacher, Eleanora Esposito, a gender-based violence researcher at the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), Professor Lisebet Stevens and Erika Frans, a senior expert on sexual health. Each speaker provided insights on how to work together to end gender-based violence and support victims.
At the end of the press conference, the clubs unveiled a graffiti artwork commissioned by EIGE on the theme of digital sexual violence for the City of Brussels by Belgian street artist CAZn. After the campaign, city hall plans to find a permanent place for the artwork to continue inspiring, stimulating, and guiding Brussels youth in their personal and professional development – a message of hope.
The Zonta Club of Geelong Inc, Australia, was overwhelmed and touched by its community’s support at its annual Walk Against Family Violence event during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
The club also proudly collaborated with local councils and businesses in lighting up buildings in its efforts to Orange the World during this period.
While the Zonta Club of Pori I, Finland, annually kicks off the 16 Days of Activism by wrapping orange scarves around statues in their city, they planned other activities to further their mission of saying NO to violence against women.
Exhibition at local library
In the lobby of Pori’s library, an exhibition was organized in cooperation with the Mother and Child Homes and Shelters Association of Pori, Soroptimists and other Zonta clubs. The exhibition aimed to raise awareness of gender-based and domestic violence in their community. The presentation included brochures from organizing associations, literature on the topic and, of course, orange color.
In an open-air concert led by the Mother and Child Homes and Shelters Association, Zontians and Soroptimists relayed information regarding gender-based and domestic violence. Orange-colored items were distributed to attendees to further the message.
Under the Hong Kong Women’s Coalition on Equal Opportunities task force, the Zonta Club of Kowloon, Hong Kong, met with seven other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for the Equal Opportunities Commission in November. The Equal Opportunities Commission is a statutory body set up by the Hong Kong government. It is responsible for implementing the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, the Disability Discrimination Ordinance, the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance, and the Race Discrimination Ordinance in Hong Kong.
A Survey on Sexual Harassment in Hong Kong from 2021 showed that one in eight ( 11.8%) of the 5,027 respondents reported being sexually harassed at the workplace in the past 24 months. Most victims were harassed by men (66.7%). They were harassed by colleagues of the same rank (44.6%), but more female victims were sexually harassed by someone more senior in rank (30.5%) or by clients. (15.9%).
The meeting focused on sexual harassment in the workplace, and the club explored how NGOs can contribute to solving this issue. The groups agreed that we should encourage corporations, especially Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), to establish sexual harassment policies, set up frameworks for internal complaints and investigation and establish staff training in their own companies. They also discussed the issue of how to generate more awareness on this issue in their community, as well as organizing public educational programs. There will likely be joint advocacy activities on this issue during International Women’s Day in March 2023.
The photo above shows participants of the Equal Opportunities Commission meeting, with Ricky Chu Man-Kin, Chairperson of the Equal Opportunity Commission and his team, Winnie Teoh, Chair of Advocacy Committee of Zonta Club of Kowloon and other Zontians, as well as Sisi Liu together with the seven NGOs under the Hong Kong Women’s Coalition on Equal Opportunities – Hong Kong Federation of Women’s Centres, Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions, Progressive Labor Union of Domestic Workers in Hong Kong, The Association of the Advancement of Feminism, Hong Kong Women Workers’ Association, Hong Kon Young Women’s Christian Association, Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women.
To kick off the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the Zonta Club of Makati and Environs, the Philippines, presented an art exhibition featuring the paintings, sculptures and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of the artist Carlos from 24-27 November. The exhibition took place at the Power Plant Mall, and a portion of the proceeds was donated to the Zonta Foundation for Women.
Carlos is a painter and sculptor whose career has spanned 40 years. He is best known for his vibrant colors, which are just as much a subject as the idyllic scenes he paints on his canvases. His work focuses on the joy of life, depicted in his subjects. His color palette encourages his viewers to savor and relish life’s moments of beauty, romance and love.
In honor of the 16 Days, several paintings and sculptures featured women as the subject of the works, together with their different roles. Beyond their roles in the family, which are usually depicted in art by renderings of mother and child, and which Carlos takes as a subject that goes beyond the literal, the artworks also offer depictions of their chosen professions, with some sculptures touching on figurative meanings rather than literal translations of their chosen roles.
To raise awareness of gender-based violence, Zonta clubs in District 16, Area 3, New Zealand, teamed up to hold a garden party at the home of Suffragette Kate Shephard. Many local dignitaries and Members of Parliament (MPs) attended the event.
The clubs also invited speakers from inspirational organizations working to prevent violence against women.