The Zonta Club of Cebu 1 recognized the 16 Days of Activism and Zonta’s dedication to ending child marriage with a series of awareness programs.
On 8 November, Zontians held a commemoration event recognizing Zonta’s Centennial, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Zonta Club of Cebu I. This event included an “opening salvo” held at the Ayala Mall to an audience of about 1,000 people, including community leaders.
Also on 8 November, a research-interactive forum discussed the roots of child marriage.
A play was also presented that focused on how early pregnancy can lead to child marriage. This was attended by about 500 people.
On 29 November, about 200 Zontians and guests celebrated its golden year, featuring the Hall of Fame of Past Presidents from 1981 to 2018 and their projects that empowered women to spearhead prevention of violence against women. There were also poster exhibits focused on ending child marriage.
The largest assemblage was of 5,000 students, teachers and Zontians on 10 December at the University of San Jose Recoletos Coliseum. This was during the event “Shout Out NO to Child Marriage.” The event was covered by a regional tv network, as well as print media.
Members of the club say this series of integrated programs on child marriage had an impact on the community, which resulted in the formation of a new Z Club, comics serials, oratorical contests and an international forum on women’s transformative leadership.
The Zonta Club of Kennemerland-Zuid Area, District 29, took part in the 16 Days of Activism by using orange lights to light up a local tower.
The tower of the St. Bavo Church in Haarlem, Netherlands was illuminated with a spectacular orange-colored floodlight.
Club members said they hoped the color would stand out and be recognized as a color meant to warn. Everyone recognizes it as the color of traffic signals which are meant to warn us.
Mayor Jos Wienen kindly connected two orange cables, setting the tower ablaze. Wienen said he was pleased to be present at the opening ceremony, saying: “We do not always realize what is taking place outside the public view, in private relationships. Every year at least 25 women in the Netherlands die as a result of domestic violence. From November 25 until December 10, also Haarlem will pay attention to these problems.”
One may wonder why orange was chosen as the color for this campaign for a hopeful future without violence against women and girls. Club members say the answer is that in orange the colors red, the physical, and yellow, the emotional, are joined.
The tower of the St. Bavo Church remained lit in orange light until 10 December.
Members of the Zonta Club of Mangawhai, District 16, acknowledged the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence with three main activities.
Members knit-bombed a large tree at their local library and arts center complex, painted men’s, women’s and children’s shoes orange and hung them along a fence with two wooden orange dolls and a sign, and held an orange themed Quiz Night.
During the 16 Days, a visiting English tourist was murdered in New Zealand. A vigil was held to remember Grace Millane throughout New Zealand and several Zontians took part in the local walk, holding candles and wearing their orange shirts.
The Zonta Club of Central Oklahoma, District 10, arranged to light the Oklahoma City Skydance Bridge orange in their Zonta Says NO campaign to turn their city orange during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
Club members gathered on 29 November at the bridge, where they were joined by community partners from Palomar, Pivot, and the Oklahoma Coalition.
Members watched the bridge turn orange against the backdrop of the Oklahoma City skyline to make their statement that Zonta says NO to violence against women.
As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, the Zonta Club of Pocatello, District 8, collected and distributed feminine hygiene and personal care items to distribute to 16 local places for underserved women and girls to have free access to the products.
Members delivered products to one stop a day for 16 days. Each location received at least one box of supplies and some even received two boxes.
Club members collaborated with three businesses to have drop-off locations so non-members could donate and participate as well.
Club members selected 16 places around their community that they felt offered the most access for women and girls in to gain free access to the items. The stops included seven junior and senior high schools, three battered women or homeless shelters, a pantry on the campus of Idaho State University and several other locations that offer services or assistance to a wide variety of community members.
Members who dropped off the donations took selfies and posted them on social media at each stop to help spread the message to end violence against women. They also used the hashtags #womendoing and #tamponladies to help attract attention to their cause.
For many girls, child marriage can seem like the only option. Watch what happens when we give girls choices.
By the end of this year, the Ending Child Marriage Project has the potential to reach 2.5 million girls in 12 countries.
As we begin 2019, reinvigorate your dedication to ending child marriage by joining Zonta International in saying NO to the violating practice.
During the 16 Days of Activism, Zonta International, as well as many clubs, focused on ending child marriage. For one club in Dhaka, this focus aligned with a current project from which they have seen success for two local girls.
Through a club-wide service project, members of the Zonta Club of Dhaka II, District 25, have supported two girls in changing their lives after avoiding the pressures of child marriage.
Mohsina Akhtar and Shoma Islam are two young women from remote villages of Bangladesh and both participate in Shathi Samaj, an education project by the Zonta Club of Dhaka II.
While studying, Mohsina Akhtar was forced to get married and her in-laws did not let her continue with her studies. Mohsina underwent both mental and physical abuse during this time. Mohsina reached out to the Zonta club for counseling and advice. With the support of the club members, she was able to leave her marriage and go back to her studies. She is now a student at the University of Dhaka, studying finance. She hopes to become a chartered accountant.
When she was young, Shoma Islam was under pressure to discontinue her studies to get married. However, with the help of the members of the club, Shoma is now a 4th-year student of home economics at the University of Dhaka and is doing very well. She is also currently working with a renowned NGO in Dhaka and is also continuing her studies in food and nutrition. She has a dream of becoming a nutritionist.
Members of the Zonta Club of Dhaka II plan to be by their sides until they fulfill their dreams.
The Zonta Club of Birmingham, District 11, worked with an advertising company to use a billboard to advertise this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign.
The billboard was placed on the busy interstate I-65, which goes through the city of Birmingham, to increase awareness of violence against women and provide a hotline number. The location of the sign allowed both the citizens of Birmingham and motorists passing through the city to become aware of Zonta’s position on violence against women.
Members said that although they will never know how many people visited their website or called the hotline, they are happy to know the billboard could have helped even just one person.
Zontians in Alabama and the rest of the United States have a special concern on the issue of child marriage. In Alabama, girls can be married at the age of 16 with a court or parental permission. The U.S. law supporting efforts by law enforcement, nonprofits and government agencies to combat sexual violence and support domestic violence victims, the Violence Against Women Act, could expire soon and there are major obstacles to reauthorization. The major federal law to combat human trafficking and assist victims expired a year ago.
The billboard, along with other action Zonta club members in Birmingham take, is all in the interest of changing existing policies and protecting more women and girls from violence.
From 25 November to 10 December, during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, Zonta club members embraced the Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign and advocated to end violence against women and child marriage in their communities.
Watch the video below to see a few examples of how club members said NO during the campaign.
Inspired by the ZontaSaysNo campaign, the Danish District 13 Zonta clubs of Viborg, Silkeborg, Aarhus and Aarhus II invited upper secondary schools in their respective cities to discuss the topic of equal rights and respect between the sexes.
More than 150 students at seven upper secondary schools said yes to the invitation. During the course of November, they spent
many lessons in English, Danish, social studies or drama working on subjects such as how to say no to physical or mental abuse, how to have ethical behavior on social media, and learning about bullying and mental terror. They also learned about sexist stereotyping and other related topics.
The result was a series of inspiring essays, poems, short stories, video productions, social studies papers and plays. The students presented many of these products on stage to an enthusiastic audience on 24 November at VIA University College in Aarhus.
The Zonta club members said they are grateful to the students for their thought-provoking responses and reflections. Members said the contributions from the students strengthen their faith in humanity and show them clearly just how aware young people are about these issues and about how important it is to say no to physical and mental violence and to fight for gender equality.